Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Yesterday, Stark County Commissioner Todd Bosley presented a proposal to help solve Stark County's financial woes which has prevented the "broken" Stark County 9-1-1 system (as characterized by the commissioners).

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) presents a video of the commissioners discussing Bosley's proposal.

Among the highlights:

1. County Chief Administrator Mike Hanke sharing with the commissioners an overview of the deteriorating financial picture of Stark County, to wit:

a. 2007 budget of $58.77 million.
b. 2008 budget of $56.60 million.
c. 2009 budget of $52 to $53 million.

2. Commentary by all three commissioners on the dire financial condition of Stark County and
there current sentiments about whether or not they (in the case of Commissioners Harmon
and Vignos) will support "imposing" a 1/2% increase (on the condition of dropping the 1/4% voted sales tax increase of several years ago) in the Stark County sales and use tax
which is estimated to generate approximately $20 million of which $5 million is to be set
aside to fund a revamping of 9-1-1.

3. The actual resolution itself as presented by Commissioner Bosley.

Commentary by The Report

The emphasis by the commissioners is on getting the funding revamp 9-1-1. The Report agrees that 9-1-1 is broken and does need fixing. Fixing 9-1-1 has been under discussion for some time by the Stark County Council on Governments (SCOG). But there was no clear path to obtaining the monies needed to do the repair and therefore the discussions were just that - discussions.

Commissioner Bosley's proposal is a breakthrough on the funding issue. And, if either Commissioner Harmon and/or Vignos support Bosley's proposal (assuming, of course, that Commissioner Boxley will support his own proposal, the funding issue is solve.

What will remain is working out the details of the configuration of the reform.

One thing that is not so apparent from the discussion among the commissioners in the presented video, is that the process of making 9-1-1 funding a reality will also generate enough other revenue to take Stark County back to 2007 budgeting levels (nearly $59 million).

The Report is fine with this move. But that is the question the commissioners have to deal with. Their concerns (especially Tom Harmon - not so much Commissioner Vignos because she is retiring as of December 31, 2008) is Stark County voter reaction.

Stark Countians have a rich history of keeping county commissioners on a short leash when it comes to funding county operations.

The Report believes that Stark County has fallen behind in economic development for two basic reasons.

First, too many, if not all, Stark County Boards of Commissioners of the modern era have lacked leadership skills and have lack a vision for Stark County prosperity going into the future.

Secondly, even if Stark would have had visionary leaders; the lack of financial resources have made it virtually impossible to implement programs and policies that would have prevented the current financial crisis.

The Report recalls citizen-activists leading an anti-sales/use tax crusades years ago. In the opinion of the The Report, this anti-sales/use tax campaign spawned a regressive culture within the Stark County electorate which lives with us today.

A case in point. When Republican John Daugherty ran for county commissioner during a previous Stark County financial crises which can only be understood in the context of events described above, he let it be known that if the proposed sales/use tax did not pass; then, the anti-tax folks should defeat him also.

The tax issue passed and Daugherty was elected.

The Report thought that Daugherty's action was courageous and would provide Stark County with the resources to prepare itself for the new economy which was just over the horizon (i.e. "the 21st century")

Lo and Behold, four years later when seeking re-election, Daugherty flip-flopped on the sales/use tax issue as the county was, once again, in a financial crisis.

So what happened over the course of four years with Daugherty?

The Report applauds Commissioner Bosley in his "taking the bull by the horns" and seeking to end the financial crises that seem to be never ending in Stark County. Bosley has been very active in trying to resurrect Stark County's dying economy. Until Stark County gets its financial house in order and has the resources to rebuild its infrastructure and thereby make the county attractive to new businesses, Stark County and its citizens will not prosper.

The Report encourages Stark Countians to attend the hearings on the proposed sales/use tax increase announced by Commissioner Bosley in the accompanying video and weigh in with your thoughts.

In the meantime, what is your initial take on the Bosley proposal?

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