Edited 11:24 a.m. In light of comments made, the bolded area has been added to the article.
Avon Lake Mayor Greg Zilka said that city leaders have been prudent with finances, noting numerous cuts and savings the city has incorporated, but noted that should the paramedic levy, fail, services could be inadequate, and the city could face a growing financial crisis.
“This year and every year we have looked for ways to run the city in the most efficient way possible,” Zilka said in public comments at the Oct. 1 Council Meeting.
He noted that the fire department and city leaders have opted to advertise for bids to restore current ladder truck instead of purchasing a new $1.4 million truck. “Restoration will cost much less,” Zilka said.
He also said that a restroom at the fire department that was not ADA compliant was renovated in house by fire fighters and the service department.
Zilka added that Belle Road flooding was corrected at a cost of $31,000. An original plan of $150,000, which would have taken water from Hunter Road to the stormsewer, instead of the creek, was scrapped.
Changing over to the 9-1-1 dispatch system instead of using in-house 9-1-1, will free up three firefighter/paramedics when it begins at the end of this year.
Zilka said that not replacing seven full-time employees and 1 part-time employee in the service, police and engineering departments has saved the city a substantial amount of money.
He added that service clerical workers, police and fire personnel have taken a 0 percent increase through June 30, 2014.
Passing the levy could also help offset a potential financial crisis the city could face with the potential closing of the GenOn Power Plant in 2014.
“Our financial consultant have advised us that the storm clouds are gathering for 2014 and beyond,” Zilka said.
“I think we’ve been very conservative and very prudent,” the mayor said of handling the city budget. He added that a failed paramedic levy would “create a crisis within the city with one that will cause irreparable damage and harm.”
Council president Martin O’Donnell said he has had personal experience with the paramedics in the past month and a half.
“Believe me, when you get there and you want the best person available, when they’re coming at 2 in the morning and wheeling your loved one out…you want the best person available to make those decisions.
“Our fire department, paramedics, no matter who I talk to… think they do an excellent job. You want that kind of training. When you have a situation like that at your home you want the best person available in those situations.
“When you make that vote on Election Day, take that into consideration…It makes a major difference.”