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Elyria Council: Gas tax funds will be a while


ELYRIA — What will become of Elyria’s potential $1 million windfall from the state’s new gasoline tax was on the mind of several City Council members at Monday’s meeting.

Both 4th Ward Councilman Phil Tollett and 7th Ward Councilman Jack Cerra asked Council President Mike Lotko to bring to the floor a discussion of the use of the new fuel tax to pave neighborhood streets.

Finance Director Ted Pileski said preliminary indications are that the city could see an additional $1 million in funds from the bill signed April 3 by Gov. Mike DeWine. The bill raises the state gasoline tax by 10.5 cents per gallon and the tax on diesel fuel by 19 cents per gallon.

“We could earmark it right now even if we don’t spend it right now,” Tollett suggested. He estimated that the city could resurface 10 or 11 more streets “annually” with the expected funds.

Pileski said the city’s share of the state gas tax goes for street construction and the purchase of road salt. From the funds, 92.5 percent goes to the city’s street fund for maintenance, traffic lights, street worker salaries and other considerations, while the remaining 7.5 percent is funneled into the “state highway fund,” used exclusively to purchase road salt.

However, Pileski said City Council typically votes to subsidize both those funds with an additional $200,000 to $400,000 each year when they invariably begin to run out of money. He also said he has not yet included the estimated $1 million in additional revenue the gas tax increase will bring to Elyria, and that the first money from the increase, which goes into effect July 1, should start to show up in the city’s accounts in September.

Pileski also said there is a chance that the state might tell the city how the money has to be used.

“We may have to make a separate fund (for it) to be used in a specific manner,” he said.

Another issue is the city’s capacity to do all the roadwork that needs done with the employees it has. Mayor Holly Brinda said the city “has tried to be conservative in our employment numbers” and did not want to spend money the city does not have on hiring more street workers, then running out of money to pay them.

“We don’t want to end up laying people off,” she said.

Lotko said he would put the matter on the Utilities, Safety and Environment Committee agenda for further discussion. That committee’s next scheduled meeting is at 6 p.m. April 24 in council chambers.

The request fit with another matter on Monday’s agenda, when City Council approved a list of 19 city streets to be paved with $1.36 million in Issue 6 money, approved by voters in March 2016 as part of a temporary 0.5 percent income tax increase for city services. Ward council members came up with the list during an April 8 committee meeting, with Council voting to approve the recommendations.

In other business:

  • Two public hearings will take place 7 p.m. May 6: A rezoning request by Muzilla Properties for the building at 41333 Schaden Road to be rezoned from professional office district to light industrial, and a request to grant a conditional use permit to Tyllin LLC and Dale Yost Construction to build a 48-unit cluster housing development at South Logan Street and Cornell Avenue.
  • A public hearing will be 7 p.m. May 20 in City Council chambers to rezone property at 915 Lorain Blvd. and 526 Bell Ave. from business neighborhood to business automotive oriented. TrueNorth Energy plans to expand the existing Shell station there, add additional pumps and diesel fuel service and will build a 4,000-square-foot convenience store, a company representative said previously.
  • City Council did not object to two liquor license requests — one a transfer from Hanan Food & Gas Co. at 824 Middle Ave. to Amneh Food Corp. at 1600 Middle Ave., and the other a request for Cookies’ 10 Pin bowling alley, at 252 S. Abbe Road, for spirits, beer and wine on premises and Sunday sales until midnight.
Contact Dave O’Brien at (440) 329-7129 or do’ Follow him at @daveobrienCT on Twitter.

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