Friday, May 31, 2013


If the 90 degree weather doesn’t inspire you to do this, the quality of the programming will!  Tomorrow – Saturday, June 1 is the Elyria Parks and Recreation Department’s ONE STOP REGISTRATION for all of its spectacular summer programming.  Please make time to visit East Park Recreation Center, 1101 Prospect Street, between 9:00am – Noon and register before the sessions fill.

Register your child for FREE SUMMER CAMP through the Reach and Rise Discovery Camp program sponsored by the City and 15 community partners.  The 14 week-long camps are geared for children and youth ages 5 – 17 and cover a variety of themes from NASA Rocketry and Mars Exploration Camp to arts and music, to sports and much more.

You can also dive into summer with adult or child swimming lessons, parent and tot water fun, diving lessons, swim team and more.  Swimming passes will also be available on Saturday. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Today's Topics: Community Gardens & Eliminating Nuisance Properties to Strengthen Neighborhoods

Thanks to the efforts of committed citizen volunteers, the City of Elyria is becoming a more sustainable, friendly, beautiful and safe community.  As part of the Mayor’s Office on Volunteer Engagement, the City offered residents an opportunity to plant their own gardens on vacant city-owned properties where homes have been demolished using Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funds.  

The City has been working very hard to eliminate homes that have become a nuisance because of neglect or abandonment.  Since January 1, 2013 we have demolished 59 nuisance homes and we have another 53 in process using both federal NSP funds and monies made available through a national mortgage settlement. An additional 17 properties are currently being evaluated.  Demolishing these homes reduces crime, makes your block safer and more attractive, improves your property value and provides us with an opportunity to return these vacant properties to productive use. One way to return vacant properties to productive use is for the City to lend the properties free of charge to residents who have an interest in creating community gardens. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Talk about an all American City - despite the cool weather and threat of rain Elyrians showed up by the thousands to honor our veterans and participate in or view our Memorial Day service and parade.  I hope you enjoy the slide show that follows, as it is a true testimony to our community’s patriotic values and citizen participation. And as a side note, thank you to the Friendship APL for joining us in the parade...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Today’s Topics: Accountability and Celebrating Downtown

If you come downtown this weekend to celebrate Memorial Day, which I hope you will, you’ll probably notice a number of improvements.  I would like to express my most sincere appreciation to Lamar Advertising for DONATING four billboards to the City to help promote downtown events.  We also have new grant-funded solar- power mid-block crosswalks downtown – and of course, the flowers planted by hundreds of volunteers on Pride Day and the donor-funded flower baskets sponsored by Main Street Elyria.  I hope you’ll join us for the following festivities and celebrations beginning with the Elyria High School Pioneer Marching Band Appreciation Day Celebration this Friday, May 24th on Ely Square from 4:30 – 9:00pm and the Memorial Day Parade on Monday!  A pancake breakfast is also served that morning at St. Andrews church downtown.  (Please scroll down for Performance Audit Question/Answer) 

Carol: How do you plan on holding the City more accountable to the taxpayers?

Great question Carol.  I am a true believer in cost-benefit analysis of services, re-bidding contracts to make sure the City is getting the most for its dollar, prioritizing services and resources based on safety first, and weighing and balancing the wants and needs of the community by engaging citizens in processes that provide feedback to the City in its decision-making.  In other words, we want to be able to offer citizens what they want and are willing to pay for, so one of the challenges we have as an administration is to find simple ways to share information and give people viable choices based on limited resources. 

Monday, May 20, 2013


One of the measures of a community’s vitality is the level of engagement of its citizen  volunteers.  This past weekend Elyrians and others who care about Elyria stepped forward in a big way to help make our downtown, Cascade Park, and surrounding neighborhoods the clean, beautiful, walkable places we expect and deserve. 

Congratulations and my most sincere thanks to  the over 500 citizen volunteers from the Church of the Open Door, Main Street Elyria, Lorain County Solid Waste, Invest Elyria, the Mayor’s Office on Volunteer Engagement and others who took personal responsibility to sweep streets, wash windows, haul trash, and plant flowers.  When I walked into Elyria City Hall this morning all I could do is smile as I passed the beautiful purple, pink and yellow petunias adorning the planters around the square and on Broad Street.   I hope you enjoy the pictures. 

Friday, May 17, 2013


Don’t forget Elyria: this Saturday, May 18th is PRIDE DAY – an opportunity for you, friends, family, neighbors, and faith and civic organizations to take personal responsibility for our City’s cleanliness and appearance.  Nothing demonstrates pride better than clean, swept, litter-free streets and colorful flowers adorning our walkways downtown.  You can make this happen and more. 

There is still time to register and volunteer. Just bring yourself and your essential tools like shovels, rakes, brooms and gloves to Ely Square in downtown Elyria by 9:00am Saturday morning.  Teams will be organizing on the square and then will be deployed by project.  Participating organizations include the organizing agency Lorain County Solid Waste Management District, the City of Elyria, Main Street Elyria, Church of the Open Door and many others. 
In a related matter, the County is now making available through a grant the Clean and Beautiful trailer.  It is being made available to volunteer groups interested in taking up site clean-ups, beautification projects or community gardens.  The trailer is equipped with tools and equipment.  To find out more, call or email Sally Pecora at (440) 329-5467 or

In Elyria, there will be nine community gardens erected this summer on vacant  lots where the City has demolished homes using federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program Funds.  Citizen groups have attended meetings and have committed themselves to these projects.  Look for gardens to spring up on the following streets: Louisiana , Sumner, two on Gates, Second, Hillsdale, North, Lowell, and South Maple.  As the garden flourish, I will be posting more information and photos.  Have a great weekend! 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Tribute to Our Fallen Officers

It was a beautiful day for the Lorain County Police Memorial Service on Ely Square.  The Lorain County Chief’s Law Enforcement Officers Association sponsored a very moving ceremony to honor fallen officers that gave their lives in protection of the citizens of Lorain County.  Also honored were current and retired officers for their years of service and the families that support our officers.  Since 1883, a total of 16 officers have paid the ultimate price for our safety.  Sincere appreciation is extended to the Elyria High School Band and Madrigals, Keynote Speaker Smoky Everett of the United States Secret Service and all of our participating Lorain County law Enforcement organizations.
Please join me in saluting our fallen officers:
James A. Kerstetter, Elyria Patrolman – 2010
Robert Perez, Trooper, Ohio Highway Patrol – 2000
Kenneth M. Tomaszewski, Deputy, Lorain County Sherriff – 1979
Francis Smolka, Vermilion Patrolman – 1978
Robert Woodall, Oberlin Patrolman - 1971
John P. Palmero, Deputy, Lorain County Sheriff – 1964
Michael J. George, Deputy, Lorain County Sheriff – 1961
Edmund G. Smith, Wellington Patrolman – 1957
George Kirk, Patrolman, Lorain – 1944
Howard B. Taft, Patrolman, Elyria – 1942
Franklin J. Strohl, Deputy, Lorain County Sheriff – 1930
Charles C. Deal, Lorain Patrolman – 1925
Fred J. Webber, Lorain Patrolman – 1923
Rupert Becker, Amherst Night Watchman – 1916
Spooner C. Crapo, Rochester Village Marshall – 1905
George Brenner, Wellington City Marshal - 1883   

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Today, it's all about chili and the audit...

Today I am going to mix it up a bit and talk about my favorite subjects: food, and the City Voluntary Performance Audit recently completed by the State at our request.  So before we get into the numbers, let’s talk about the Chili!  If you are game for a fun-filled lunch, please join me and other “Chefs” in the community this Friday, May 17, 2013 from 11:30am – 1:30pm at Spitzer Conferencing Center at Lorain County Community College.  We will be participating in the Third Annual Lorain County Celebrities Cook for Pathways event.  Thirteen “Chefs” including yours truly will be presenting their special dishes for your dining pleasure.  Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door and all proceeds benefit Pathways Counseling and Growth Center – an important organization in our community that provides psychological counseling services to individuals, couples and families.  My special dish: Mayor Brinda’s “Kickin” Southwest Chili.  Warning: it’s hot, hot, hot!  On another note, let’s talk again about the performance audit.  Jane called today with the following question…

Jane: Will the City adopt all of the state’s recommendation made in the performance audit; why and why not?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Today it's Safety Town & Water Meters

Elyria, it’s been a busy day, but as promised, I want to make sure I get back to those of you who have questions regarding our voluntary performance audit.  Gloria has a question about water meters, so that what we’ll talk about today.  But I just want to make sure I don’t forget to remind you about Safety Town.  Yes, believe it or not it’s that time of year again!  If you have a child or grandchild getting ready to enter kindergarten, make sure you don’t miss this opportunity.

The Elyria Police Department and the Elyria Kiwanis will sponsor the 55th annual Safety Town the weeks of June 17th, June 24th, July 8th and July 15th.  Registration is FREE and you get obtain a registration card at the school your child will attend in the fall, or at the Elyria Police Department.  The program runs Monday through Thursday, 9:00am – 11:30am, with a special graduation ceremony on Friday morning starting at 9:00am, complete with guest speakers. 
This is a wonderful one-week course that focuses on teaching our children safe practices both at school and at home.  They learn when, where and how to cross the street, bike and pedestrian safety, school bus safety, fire safety, seat belt safety, 911 emergency calls,  stranger danger and what to do if they find a gun.  It’s also a great way to encourage children to be comfortable around police officers, fire fighters.  Thank you Elyria Police Department and Kiwanis! 

Now about the water meters…
Gloria: How can the City be losing so much water and what are you going to do about it?  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sign up for FREE Reach & Rise Summer Day Camps!

Dear Elyrians, I hope you are enjoying this beautiful Spring day.  And as we approach this warmer weather and think about summer, if you have school-age children please make sure you take full advantage of the City’s second annual Reach & Rise Discovery Camps. Registration is now open through our Parks and Recreation Department, and the camps are filling up fast.  Up to 940 of Elyria’s children and youth ages 6-17 will be offered an opportunity to attend free of charge 12 week-long Reach and Rise Summer Day Camps between June 10 – August 16 at Elyria’s public parks.

I credit the City’s 15 community programming partners and 9 funding partners for making the camps possible.  Because of their support, there is something of interest for every child or youth in our community – with a wide range of topics that infuse fun with challenging academics, music, arts, sports and leadership concepts.  Our partners bring their best programming and personnel to the table and together we build on our strengths to create a remarkable, one-of-a-kind summer camp experience unique to Elyria.       
Those organizations taking the lead in the community to make the 12 camps possible in 2013 include: the City of Elyria Parks and Recreation Department, Elyria Firefighters, Elyria City Schools, the Elyria Public Library, the Lorain County MetroParks, the Lorain County Urban League, the Elyria Chapter of the NAACP, the Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Lorain County, the Elyria YWCA, Lorain County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services (LCADA), NASA, Horizon Activity Centers, Save Our Children, Big Brothers and Big Sisters and the Neighborhood Alliance. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Performance Audit Questions and Answers:

I hope you are enjoying your weekend, Elyrians.  As promised, here are some of the questions sent to me by citizens that have arisen regarding the Voluntary Performance Audit completed by the State, and my responses.  Again, thank you for your willingness to learn more about YOUR city government.  
Janice: What is the City doing to control health care costs?
This is an area that all employers are struggling with, and the City of Elyria is no different, as costs have escalated almost 13 percent annually.  To help address this, in 2012 the City re-bid the health benefit broker contract, interviewed 11 respondents and chose a new benefits broker that presented a case for reducing costs while maintaining high quality services to employees.  The Hoffman/Gallagher Group was chosen and  saved the saved the City $44,160 annually and $156,620 through 2015.  In 2012, working with the City Employee Health Care Committee, the City increased employee contributions, increased the deductibles on the medical plan, increased the out-of-pocket maximums on the medical plan, recaptured prescription drug rebates, and lowered the cost of the prescription drug mail program to encourage use and lower costs.  A new Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is providing more comprehensive wellness programming and the Medical Mutual Super Wellness program is being encouraged among employees – i.e. a new Wellness Fair in 2012.   By making these adjustments, the City has been able to moderately increase the self-insurance reserve fund.  
Fred:  Why do you and some members of City Council disagree on whether or not the area of Emergency Medical Service should be examined?  
First let me say, that while the delivery of emergency medical care to the citizens and visitors of Elyria has been reviewed and opinions offered in the past, there remain many nagging issues related to the quality and cost of care. There are many people who have strong opinions about how EMS should be provided. My sole motivation is to assure the best possible care is delivered at the most economical and sensible cost. I am committed to studying the issue thoroughly and making a recommendation to City Council that best serves our citizens. Whatever option is recommended, everyone can be assured that it reflects a detailed and diligent analysis.

Friday, May 10, 2013

What we're doing and why we're doing it...

Happy Friday, Elyrians!  Welcome to day two of my new blog.  There is certainly a lot to talk about.  First let me say, I sincerely appreciate all of the words of encouragement so many of you have offered in support of my administration and City Council advancing the Voluntary Performance Audit.   You’re right, it did take courage to voluntarily subject ourselves to this kind of scrutiny, but I do think we received back a wealth of information that will help us make best management decisions now and in the future.  

The major point to be made today is that every step we are taking is intended to make the best use of YOUR precious tax dollars and to try to either eliminate the need to ask you for additional money, or at the very least, reduce the amount we will eventually have to ask for, given that the City is faced with the expiration of over $11 million in our $29 million General Fund over the next 18 months.   It should be noted, even if we were able to adopt all cost-saving recommendation in the Audit, which we cannot for reasons I explain in the City’s Response to the Audit (click here), the City will still need to renew an expiring temporary income tax in November of this year that generates $6 million annually over five years.  This issue will NOT BE A TAX INCREASE – it will be a RENEWAL to preserve core city services.

Adoption of many of the cost-saving measures in the Audit will help us off-set some of the impact of the expiration of the additional $5 million of funds we are facing as a result of repeal of the estate tax, a reduction in the Local Government Fund by the State, and the expiration of both a SAFER grant that funds 23 positions in the fire department and COPS grants that fund four positions in the Police Department.   There is no one silver bullet to solving this budget deficit problem.  The City is going to have to take multiple steps to find new ways forward in providing the high quality service delivery with fewer available resources. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Dear Fellow Elyrians and Others,

Thank you for visiting my new BLOG site.  I started this site because I thought citizens needed another way to receive factual, unbiased, real-time information about issues facing our community.   I pledge to you that the information I communicate on this BLOG on a daily basis will be as accurate as I can make it based on the facts that I have at the time. 

There are many important issues facing our city.  This week State Auditor Dave Yost is visiting Elyria to release the results of the VOLUNTARY PERFORMANCE AUDIT that the City requested last year at the beginning of my term as Mayor.  Results of the audit and my preliminary response to the audit recommendations are posted for your review  here.  Elyria City Council and I asked the State to perform this voluntary audit for a number of reasons.

First, as the new Mayor of Elyria, I knew it was important to the City’s progress to see how Elyria compares to peer cities, and to evaluate our efficiency and effectiveness based on peer comparisons, best practices and industry and national standards.  The second reason for the audit was to assure you, the residents of our community, that there are no secrets; this administration is totally committed to transparent, accountable government.  Third, I thought it was important to establish a baseline for our performance in order to be able to measure our progress in the future.  So that you can track our progress, we are creating a measurement system and Community Report Card to help you monitor our performance.   And lastly, in this very challenging financial climate, it is more important than ever that the City of Elyria find new ways to deliver high quality services in the most cost-effective ways.  This audit will provide further context for my administration and Elyria City Council to consider as we plan for a more financially sound future. 

Please take the time to read the audit and my response.  Over the next several weeks, as dialogue about the 32 recommendations contained in it and the City’s responses are discussed in the local media – I hope you will visit this BLOG to view this Mayor’s point of view.   The City of Elyria has incredible potential and the Brinda Administration is committed to working with you, listening to you, and doing everything it can to provide the best possible services at the lowest possible costs. 

I welcome your comments and suggestions.  If you would like to discuss any of these issues further, please visit me and members of my senior staff at an upcoming Mayor’s Night In – held the first Thursday of each month (except July) at 6:00pm in Council Chambers on the second floor of Elyria City Hall – 131 Court Street.  You can also call me at my office at (440) 326-1402.  And of course, the public is welcome and encouraged to attend Elyria City Council meetings, the dates of which are posted here.   

Thank you in advance for taking the time to become more informed about your City.  Working together, we can make Elyria - Ohio’s community of opportunity!


Holly C. Brinda, MPA