Wednesday, June 3, 2009
IS THERE TAXPAYER ACCOUNTABILITY FROM NORTH CANTON CITY OFFICIALS?
More and more it appears that it is becoming murky as to whether or not the move of Myers Controlled Power from Massillon is going to pay off for North Canton.
Murky is the operative word.
North Canton city officials do not seem to have a handle on the numbers being bandied about in terms of jobs being maintained or increased?
The SCPR has asked North Canton Economic Development Director Eric Bowles and North Canton Council president Daryl Revoldt about reports that one tenant of the Hoover campus ("HOOVER" - which Maple Street Commerce - "MAPLE STREET") is rehabbing is out and that another (MYERS) is struggling.
Other than confirming that the Flower Factory (FLOWER) has vacated Hoover with its 12 jobs, Bowles was shockingly unable to confirm or deny or provide specific alternative information on the questions being asked.
Daryl Revoldt, who knows a thing or two about economic development, chose to ignore the SCPR's questions. Does this mean that Revoldt only answers questions he feels comfortable with?
Apparently, Bowles and Revoldt either don't know the numbers or do not think they are accountable to the public.
Bowles made some sort of vague reference to the SCPR to some other company subleasing from FLOWER but had no idea what number of jobs that the sublessee was bringing to HOOVER.
The move by FLOWER cost North Canton an actual 12 jobs and a hoped for total of 100. Has the sublessee replaced any of the actual or hoped for 100? Again, no one in North Canton government seems to know or are not talking.
It cost North Canton Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) $440,000 to buy three cranes to bring MYERS from Massillon to HOOVER. It is believed that MYERS brought at least 100 jobs to HOOVER per its obligation in an agreement entered into between MYERS, CIC and MAPLE STREET about one year ago. When the North Canton press conference was held in mid-2008 heralding the MYERS relocation 10.5 miles from the 44646 zip code to the 44720 zip code, the "non-contractual" word was that MYERS might be up to 220 jobs in about a year.When contrasting what CIC did for MYERS in forking out the $440,000 (Massillon only anted up $25,000 in relocation expenses when MYERS moved to Massillon in 2000 bringing 100 jobs); is it acceptable that MYERS is struggling to maintain the 100 jobs, if that?
Now comes word that MYERS has laid off at least 20 employees and maybe as many as 26. Again, North Canton Economic Development Director Eric Bowles said he didn't know the exact number. Revoldt is not talking.
So what is the number of total jobs that the HOOVER remake has brought to North Canton and at what cost?
A more basic question is whether or not North Canton officials have the wherewithal to make the HOOVER project work?
Revoldt appears to be equipped (in terms of understanding the mechanics of re-development) to pull the renaissance of North Canton off. The SCPR is encouraged he attended the recent Stark State conference on fuel cell development which might be indicative he is acquiring a "vision." But, like LeBron James and his teammates, are there missing parts to his North Canton team that will prevent North Canton from becoming a "champion" economic development city?
North Cantonians should be alarmed that city officials either do not know the numbers or are choosing to "not be accountable" to taxpayers. Moreover, Stark Countians and, indeed, all Ohioans - from a taxpayer standpoint (because of Job Ready Site grants) are entitled to know the real numbers.
The SCPR has learned that MAPLE STREET may be having difficulty in obtaining the necessary financing to rehab HOOVER to receive the recently announced relocation of Altercare from Jackson Township into North Canton.
Is this true/untrue? Will North Canton officials answer the question? Can they answer the question?
As uncomfortable as squaring up with reality North Canton officials may feel; they have no choice. They must level with the people and constantly redirect their couse until they get on a job productive course.
Accountability, transparency and producing for the general community welfare are among a whole range of obligations incurred by those holding public office.