To the Editor - The Press
Mayor’s Column for February 24, 2016
We live in an ever-changing world and yet at the same time, some things remain the same. An important component to any civilization is public health services that address the basic issues of clean water and sanitary conditions, in a world of periodic outbreaks of disease and other health matters. The City of Avon Lake has relied on the services of the Lorain City Health Department since 1974, when city council authorized then Mayor Harold Earley to enter into an agreement with that city in lieu of the Lorain County Health Department. This was done after Avon Lake City Council reviewed the services from the county and recommended to make the change based on financial considerations. Forty-two years later we face another important decision.
Due to financial challenges, the City of Lorain is being forced to close its health department by the end of 2016, and will likely be joining the county health department by 2017. Our arrangement with the City of Lorain will no longer be an option for us. The City of Elyria, also faced with serious financial issues, is studying their situation and will decide by April 1st whether or not to close their health department. Adding to the problem is a mandate by the Ohio State Legislature that, beginning in 2018, all health departments meet very strict accreditation requirements beyond the scope of what those two cities are currently offering.
Where does this leave the City of Avon Lake? Due to the accreditation requirements, hiring private agencies to provide the services for our residents appears to be much more costly than our only other alternative, joining the county health department. This option would be funded by an estimated one-half mil property tax generating approximately $450,000 per year. The increase in property taxes on the average home valuation of $211,000 would be approximately $35 per year. The estimated cost of “going alone” is at least $600,000 based recent expenditures by the cities of Lorain and Elyria.
Most residents have received a post card in the mail inviting them to a forum at Learwood Middle School on Monday February 29 at 7:00 pm to learn more details and to offer their input. Please join us on that date.
We are proud of the efforts of the Recreation Department as they hosted “Dark Skies, Bright Kids” on February 12th. Over 200 children and adults participated in what we hope will become an annual event. Our staff worked with NASA Glenn Research Center, NASA Johnson Space Center and several astronomical societies to dazzle the crowd in what was a very memorable experience. Thanks to Suzie Dills with Starry Trails and event sponsors Petitti Garden Center, Novotny Catering, Pizza Cutter and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Recreation staff members Nicole Haas and Lorrie Bruce also deserve a round of applause.
Residents of wards 3 and 4 are reminded of the ward meeting to be held on Wednesday, February 24th at the Avon Lake High School Performing Arts Center. The meeting begins at 7:00 pm and you will have a chance to ask questions of members of the administration about issues that are of concern to you. We hope to see you there.