Smith Working To Keep East Cleveland Afloat During 'fiscal Hurricane'
Lawmaker says state's 'rainy day fund' should cover state cuts to city
April 08, 2015
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State Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) today announced he is working to get an amendment in the state budget to restore nearly $6.7 million in Local Government Funds (LGF) to East Cleveland. The amount, which would come from the state’s $1.5 billion Rainy Day Fund, reflects the state’s cuts to East Cleveland since 2008.

“Though some are reporting that it’s all sunshine in Ohio, we know it’s raining in East Cleveland,” said Rep. Smith. “Due to state cuts to local communities, East Cleveland has faced a financial hurricane that has washed away much resources and the capacity to plan for the future or even provide basic services today.”

The lawmaker said the city of 17,000 has faced challenges in providing basic services to its residents, especially when it comes to fire equipment and safety, senior services and infrastructure needs.

East Cleveland has 10 vehicles dedicated to its fire department, but all are beyond their normal operational lifespan. As of April 2015, only three vehicles are in service and two will soon come off the road for much-needed repairs.

The senior center, which offered meal service, health care and educational programming to 200 to 300 seniors per week, was forced to close at the end of 2014.

The city also has great infrastructure needs. According to city staff, East Cleveland has 70 streets that need to be resurfaced and half of those, approximately 35, need water and sewer work below the surface. The city has 13 intersections where traffic lights are not operational.

“Even though some communities around the state have the resources to supplement funds for schools, services and programs, many have not been able to absorb these losses,” added Rep. Smith. “East Cleveland has been devastated by budget cuts from the state and continues to struggle to provide the most basic services to its community members.”

The LGF is an 80-year old state revenue-sharing program that has been essential to helping Ohio communities fund schools, provide services and lift people out of poverty. Since Gov. Kasich took office, the LGF has been cut by over $1 billion, forcing local governments to drastically cut services or raise local taxes. 

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