Elyria Council condemns union bill

by Lisa Roberson | The Chronicle-Telegram | Click here to visit The Chronicle Online

ELYRIA — Elyria City Council unanimously voted Monday night to send a resolution to Gov. John Kasich opposing Senate Bill 5.

All 11 Council members, including longtime Republican member Garry Gibbs, 3rd Ward, voted to denounce the bill, which if passed would restrict the collective bargaining rights of Ohio public employees, including those that work in Elyria as police officers, firefighters, sanitations workers and laborers. The bill passed the Senate earlier this month and hearings in the House are slated to start today on the proposed bill.

“I see it as a very radical move by our state Legislature,” Gibbs said prior to the vote. “I’m opposed to it, for what this one Republican vote is worth.”

The resolution, which was introduced to Council without the benefit of committee report or referral, said that Council believes the bill is a “direct attack on public-sector workers and will lead to lower wages and benefits that will hurt Ohio families.” In addition, the resolution said “council believes that the serious budget crisis facing the state should not be used as an excuse to eliminate the long established collective bargaining rights of hard working public servants.”

City Law Director Terry “Pete” Shilling said he has been reading the very lengthy bill and believes it would have significant effects on collective bargaining in Elyria should it become law. The most significant could be the way binding arbitration is used in the city.

Currently, if the administration and union can not come to an agreement and even a fact-finding report is not deemed suitable to reach an agreement, an arbitrator can be brought in to settle the contract. Under Senate Bill 5, the administration could reject the report of the arbitrator and Council would be asked to settle the agreement.

In other news, After a quick public hearing where only one resident spoke, Council passed an ordinance that would allow wind turbines to be built in Elyria.

The legislation would allow those seeking to put up a turbine, whether commercial or residential, to go before Council and seek a conditional-use permit that would allow for the construction and operation of the wind turbine. The legislation passed Monday night details everything from height and wattage to how much noise the turbine can make and when it should be decommissioned and deconstructed.

Currently, only Lorain County Community College has a wind turbine on its property, and it is used in conjunction with the school’s wind turbine/alternative energy associate degree program.

Earlier this year, Elyria Catholic High School sought a variance from the Board of Zoning Appeals so it could go forward with plans to build a wind turbine on school property. However, the application has since been denied, and school officials have not said whether they plan to seek a conditional-use permit from Council.

No other proposed projects have come before city officials, Chief Building Inspector Phil Lahetta said.

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