Cleveland council leader rejects merger proposal from suburb

CLEVELAND (AP) — The head of Cleveland’s City Council has rejected a merger proposal from a neighboring city that includes numerous demands, including keeping all of the smaller city’s council members employed.

But council President Kevin Kelley said he’s still open to the idea of a merger with East Cleveland.

The East Cleveland City Council proposal and its conditions were released this week.

It calls for East Cleveland council members to continue receiving their salaries as members of an advisory council. Other demands included keeping red-light cameras even though Cleveland voters banned the cameras, and allowing East Cleveland residents to pay less in income tax than the rest of Cleveland.

“What was presented to us — this is not a starting point,” Kelley told ( ).

The proposal also has failed to win support of East Cleveland’s own mayor.

East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton said he doesn’t agree with the council’s demands, and said the only items missing from the proposal are “a moat, a drawbridge and a fire-breathing dragon.”

East Cleveland is one of Ohio’s poorest cities, and has for years been unable to pay for basic services, including street maintenance and snow removal, and for city employee salaries. Officials there are now exploring the possibility of annexation to Cleveland, and East Cleveland City Council members and their appointed commissioners are to negotiate with the larger city’s representatives.

Cleveland has a month to make appointments to the annexation commission and another four months to come up with terms for a merger.


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