Councilman Martin explained how the city has more than 53 police officers, which he says is too many for East Cleveland.
City of East Cleveland still struggles
By JAMES W. WADE III
It has been clear over the last couple of years the city ofEast Clevelandhas been handicapped by the continued disagreements between Mayor Gary Norton and City Council. And just when it seems like it can’t get any worse… It does.
With the city being in a financial crisis, Council has stated that something has to be cut. An email was sent to the Mayor instructing him to make cuts.
Norton, in a phone interview shared how he felt about the directive he was instructed to operate with. “There will be a safety impact for residents,” said Mayor Norton. The mayor also informed the Call & Post that without the police on the streets,East Clevelandwill also lose revenue that comes in the city through the courts.
Norton said the East Cleveland City Council’s decision to cut the police department budget by 25 percent of $1.2 million resulted in the cuts. City council members, however, blame the Mayor for mishandling the city’s budget, which has an estimated $8 million shortfall.
“Without the 10 police on the streets giving tickets, and us getting money for those tickets [it’s] not helping the city at all,” said Norton.
“Unless city council restores funding,East Clevelandwill go from 14 officers on the street to 4 officers on the street, on a typical day. The city council cuts will increase police response times to many calls and eliminate police response to other calls,” Norton said. And he brought up the point that bringing in police to man the phones will cause problems, because now they are doing dispatch work.
The Mayor went on to say, “The city council cuts will cause the elimination of (the) city’s warrant unit, traffic unit and narcotics investigation unit. Clearly, these city council cuts put our citizens at risk by weakening our law enforcement presence and strength.”
Regarding the financial impact, he added that “elimination of the warrant and traffic units will cause the city to lose up to $700,000 in revenue from these operations. For example, decreased traffic and warrant activity leads to fewer court cases, which leads to decreased fine and fee totals. Currently, such cases brought to court generate more than $1 million in revenue annually. We anticipate that this revenue stream will drop by more than 60 percent.”
Regarding the impact on other city services, Norton said, “The loss of $700,000 in revenue due to council’s police budget cut will have a ripple effect on other city services, such as snow removal, street repair, street lighting and vacant/abandoned property mitigation. Essentially, these services are supported by police-generated revenue.”
The battle continues on where the money is being spent and why they have budget problems. This one situation is not a fight or disagreement, but a major decision from Council and how they want to move forward.
Councilman Nathaniel Martin disagrees what the Mayor has been doing since he’s been in office. “Our money is being spent on raises and other things to benefit Mayor Norton, not the city as a whole,” said Martin.
Councilman Martin explained how the city has more than 53 police officers, which he says is too many forEast Cleveland. “We can not afford the police officers, we don’t have the revenue, we don’t get money from the red light cameras and we have $5 million in warrant money and if we just get half of that we can keep the police officers and could help the city get out of its fiscal emergency.”
The state ofOhiowill be coming toEast Clevelandto monitor the spending. Martin went on to say “Some people in the administration have gotten a $10,000 raise. Some people got five or six thousand. People making $80,000 in a city that’s stricken with poverty. We brought the red light cameras into the city and they have not generated half the revenue that they were projected to bring in.”