AVON LAKE

Renewal levies for the city EMS operations and the Avon Public Library are scheduled to appear on the May 4 ballot. City Council voted unanimously Jan. 11 to place the EMS issue in front of voters, while the Board of Education approved the library issue Jan. 12.

The library ballot questions must be approved by the school board.

The three-year, 0.8-mill paramedic issue raises about $1.7 million annually, or one-third of the annual EMS budget, which fluctuates somewhat year to year but is set at $1.5 million for 2021, said city Finance Director Steve Presley.

The levy pays for 10 department members and may fund purchase of a new ambulance and some paramedic equipment, according to City Council President Martin O’Donnell.

Both Presley and O’Donnell emphasized the levy would not increase taxes. The issue costs taxpayers with a home valued at $100,000 approximately $61 annually.

“I would just like to say thank you to the public for their support over the years,” said fire Chief Jeremy Betsa. “They give to us and we give back to the community.”

Council and the school board needed to act when they did to meet the Lorain County Board of Elections deadline for the May election.

The library issue is a five-year, 2.8-mill operating levy raising $2.4 million annually. The levy costs the owner of a $100,000 home $72 annually.

“We’re going for a straight levy, no increases. It’s very straightforward,” said library Director William Rutger.

Levy proceeds make up 75% of the library’s temporary $3.3 million appropriations for 2021. The library budget is finalized by the county in March.

Rutger described failure of the issue “as a disaster, to say the least,” adding the library would face severe cuts.

The levy allows the library to depend on comparatively stable local dollars instead of fluctuating state funding, Rutger said. The tradeoff is the library must go to voters on a regular basis.

As of Jan. 14, there was some question as to who would bear the cost of a May 4 election.

City officials stated if there is no need for a candidate primary, the city would be responsible for the cost of the election.

Three Avon Lake City Council at-large seats terms expire this year along with two ward council terms. Unless more than two people file to run for any given seat, there is no need to put candidates on the ballot prior to the November general election.

As of Jan. 13, no one had filed for any Avon Lake council seat.

In a voicemail message, Lorain County Board of Elections Director Paul Adams said Avon Lake has 15 voter precincts. The cost of an election is $1,700 per precinct, making the total cost of a city election approximately $25,500. At-Large City Councilman K.C. Zuber said legislators might want to rethink putting the EMS issue on the May ballot if the city must pay for the election.

Council put the question on the May ballot to give the city the opportunity to put it before voters again in November if needed. Library officials placed their issue on the May ballot for the same reason.

Both the EMS and library levies expire at the end of this year.

Rules may or may not call for the city and the library to split the cost of a May special election.

Adams could not be reached for further comment.

Contact this reporter at tcorrigan@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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