Monday, November 16, 2009


It appears that Stark County commissioners Bosley and Harmon get along.

And they may well - on a personal basis and on many policy issues.

But on 9-1-1 funding from the commissioner imposed sales/use tax (December, 2008) which was repealed by Stark County voters on November 3rd past, they clearly are at loggerheads.

How will the stand-off be resolved?

By Pete Ferguson's vote, that's how.

If Bosley and Harmon continue to see the matter differently, as the SCPR believes they will, then the question becomes how will Pete vote.

The SCPR's prediction?

Ferguson will vote the Harmon view.

What is the basis of the SCPR prediction?

First, Harmon and Ferguson have had a much longer relationship than Bosley and Ferguson.  And, make no mistake about it, public officials who have long standing connections don't jettison those connections easily.

Second, Stark County departments of government who survive, at least in part, and many - totally, on general fund revenues are looking at 10/15/20% reductions come the 2010 budgeting process because of the recent imposed sales tax repeal.

The Report believes that the Harmon/Ferguson relationship factor and the expense cutting measures of Stark County government will coalesce to compel Ferguson to vote with Harmon, if Bosley sticks with his position.

However, SCPR can see a scenario of Bosley coming over to the Harmon view.  He does have a re-election bid coming up in less than a year now.  The SCPR will be looking for indications that he is beginning factoring his political future into the decision on "what happens to the collected revenues" from the tax.

Once the "stark" Stark County financial realities hit home with Bosley and sees that draconian government services cuts might not be all that good in an election year, he could all of a sudden see the the Harmon light.

After all, as Harmon pointed out in an e-mail exchange today, the SCOG 9-1-1 group has not requested any 2010 collected money in a budget presented for public consumption at the Stark Council of Governments Governance Committee this past Thursday.

But before Ferguson decides how to vote (assuming that Bosley does not flip), he might want to consider the following scenario.

Looking at Project Manager Concatto's budget figures, there is the distinct probability that there will be almost $1 million is excess revenues over expenses.  Couple this with Bosley's desire to have 9-1-1 get about $1.2 million more as its share of imposed sales/use tax revenues (2010) and you end up with $2.2 million in unbudgeted expenses.

What to do with it?

Concatto tells the SCPR that it will take $3.2 million (maybe less because a reassessment of need might indicate a lesser number of radios) to buy the remaining necessary 800 megahertz radios required to fully implement the up-to-date radio system started by Sheriff Swanson.  The new radio system is key, if the revamped 9-1-1 is to work properly.  Eventually, the 800 system will be integrated into a statewide system.

At worst,  splicing the monies together,  leaves the Stark Council of Governments (SCOG) Governance Committee about $1 million short of having a full complement of 800 megahertz radios.

The SCPR has to believe that public safety grant opportunities exist to bring in the $1 million.

Staffing (i.e. dispatchers and supervisors) costs will be some $4.3 million plus other ancillary costs of $0.8 million will make for total annual operational costs totaling $5.1 million.

Where does that money come from?

They are to be paid by user fees or some equivalent thereof.

Presently, Concatto says that Stark's political subdivisions (villages, townships and cities) are paying $6.8 million.

So subtracting $5.1 million from $6.8 million saves political subdivisions $1.7 million.

What Commissioner Pete Ferguson needs to do is look at the numbers as he said he will do in coming to his decision of whether to go with Bosley or Harmon.

The numbers are there to possibly do a "complete" 9-1-1 conversion to countywide 9-1-1 without the need to do anything in terms of a tax issue - in the short term.

Ferguson has a lot of pressure on him.

Does he opt to salvage the 2010 money for general fund purposes (the Harmon approach) or does he elect to finish up the 9-1-1 conversion (the Bosley plan)?

Harmon and Bosley have their supporters.  Harmon, most county workers.  Bosley, the emergency worker corp and, very likely, the general public

Which way will Pete go?

Below is a video showing Bosley and Harmon expressing their positions

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