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Lorain Council seeks money back from state

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LORAIN — City Council wants its money back from the state of Ohio.

At its Tuesday meeting, its first since the August recess, the body unanimously approved a resolution urging Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio General Assembly to invest state budget surpluses into municipalities.

Councilman Joe Koziura, D-at large, said the resolution was “a very important piece of legislation” because for decades local governments got a portion of the sales tax but that all changed when Kasich took office in 2011.

“Kasich sits there and talks proudly about how he balanced the state’s books, and he did it on local money,” he said. “It’s a terrible thing that as local officials we have to take responsibility for things the state government put on our shoulders because they weren’t willing to do the right thing.”

Council President Joel Arredondo said when Kasich was elected in 2010, the city auditor at the time laid out the effects for Lorain financially.

“It was one of the first discussions we had about how much money we were going to be losing revenuewise,” he said. “We were given a broad picture and all of it came true in a very negative way.”

In recent years, Lorain has been hurt by cuts Kasich made to local government funding. In 2016, the city faced a multimillion-dollar deficit and had to lay off 22 firefighters before they were rehired as part of a federal grant.

Auditor Karen Shawver said the state’s rainy day fund, which Kasich padded with money cut cut from local government funding, is in the neighborhood of $3 billion.

Councilman Mitch Fallis, D-at large, said he agreed with the resolution “wholeheartedly” and added cities across the state have felt the pain of this particular policy, not just Lorain.

“The state has more than enough money to provide some much-needed relief to communities like Lorain to give basic services that citizens deserve,” he said.

Mayor Chase Ritenauer, who has been a critic of the state government’s cuts, said when the state decided to cut the estate tax, Lorain lost between $500,000 and $850,000 a year.

“We’ve lost more than that,” he said. “We’re the ones who got cut for the state to say they cut taxes. It’s not a lack of will or desire to do things in the neighborhoods, but when things happen in our police department it’s all hands on deck. Imagine how nice it would be to have designated task forces to handle neighborhood issues. Cities have to stand up and resist what’s going on and demand it be an issue for the next administration in Columbus to address.”

Council will have a Parks and Recreation Committee meeting 6 p.m. Monday to discuss banning smoking in all public places in the city.

Contact Katie Nix at (440) 329-7129 or knix@chroniclet.com. Find her on Facebook and Twitter at @KatieHNix.
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