East Cleveland Mayor: Merger With Cleveland Would Lead to Better Services

The mayor of East Cleveland told residents last night that it would be to their benefit to merge this financially troubled suburb into the city of Cleveland.

While stopping short of formally endorsing what is a politically controversial subject there, Mayor Gary Norton said residents would receive more reliable services from Cleveland—such as fixing streets and answering EMS calls.

Speaking on a conference call meeting with constituents, he said the process could begin with a petition drive. Under state law, that would set up a commission to negotiate annexation proceedings.

"I believe that if this petition is put forward, Cleveland will agree to form the commission with us and to study the issues," Norton said. "And hopefully it will be a win-win situation.”

This meeting was the latest in a series of conversations the mayor has convened about the city's future.

Norton said the cities could merge without combining the school districts. State law indicates the two could be dealt with separately.

Those residents and elected officials skeptical of annexation by Cleveland have questioned whether the city would be able to offer improved service in the East Cleveland area.

Norton said if a merger does not happen, he’ll be forced to make steep cuts in his own budget. The state auditor declared East Cleveland in fiscal emergency in 2012.

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