If Cleveland decides to annex it’s cash-strapped east side neighbor, East Cleveland city councilors want a cut. Now, they’ve put their list of demands in writing, but Cleveland officials have already rejected the proposal outright.
A memorandum of understanding, passed unanimously by East Cleveland city councilors earlier this month, appoints three people to a merger committee to enter into negotiations, but it then makes a list of demands, including an annual merger incentive payment of $10 million from the state of Ohio, $20 million from the Cuyahoga County land bank for housing rehabilitation, income tax breaks for East Cleveland residents, and the continuation of the controversial red light camera ticket program.
Council also wants to keep their jobs. They proposed created an East Cleveland advisory council with the same members as the current city council and the same level of compensation.
Longtime East Cleveland resident Ayanna Powell, who has watched her neighborhood decay over 38 years, laughed when she was shown the proposal.
“Because it’s irritating,” Powell said. "Compensation. What are they gaining out of it? It’s money.”
East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton said he opposed the list.
“It’s like a kidnapper list,” he said. "But to begin the manifesto by saying we want to keep these positions and keep our salaries, everything after that deserves the scrutiny that the first thing gets.”
Cleveland City Council President Kevin kelley rejected the proposal outright.
“It’s not a starting point for negotiations,” he said. “I’m concerned about the city of Cleveland and we need — the conditions that we need to talk about, the real conditions are some relief from East Cleveland’s liabilities, the extreme, the expensive capital needs that they have and some transition of operating expenses.”
Newsnet5 reached out to every member of East Cleveland City Council, all of whom voted for it. Council President Thomas Wheeler said he was against the plan, but decided to vote for it anyway to show “a unified voice.”
Councilor Barbara Thomas called it a starting point for negotiations. Other members of council were not immediately available for comment.
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