UPDATE: 08/18/2010 - 9:45 AM
Earlier this morning, yours truly had a telephone conversation with North Canton City Council President Daryl Revolt.
As is customary with the SCPR, responders to SCPR blogs are afforded opportunity to express differences with The Report and/or to explain topics of the blog from their perspective.
Revoldt made several points in our conversation, to wit:
- North Canton City Council has not committed to spend $65,000 on the walkway at Bitzer Park, the site of the "in process" veterans memorial which is projected to be completed in November of this year. From the substance and tone of the conversation, it appears that Council is not likely to approve the expenditure given the tight budget that North Canton is now own.
- On the North Canton Little League and water matter. Revoldt says that the North Canton Little League is a positive factor in North Canton's community life and that league officials have invested many dollars in conditioning and maintaining the fields. Revoldt says that organizations like the Little League are entities that make communities like North Canton a special place and that he supports helping out such organizations with taxpayer resources. The Little League, he says, bring out-of-community folks into North Canton and while here they spend money at nearby commercial establishments. Another point that Revoldt makes is that any monetary cost inherent in the assistance would come from the City's dedicated water fund and not from its general fund.
Over the last year or so we have been hearing about the impending budget crisis in North Canton.
The last the SCPR heard, The Dogwood City was looking at a $231,000 deficit for Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 and about $1 million for FY 2012.
So what is this talk at Monday night's North Canton City Council "Committee of the Whole" meeting about $65,000 of City money being needed for the rehab of a walkway at Bitzer Park, located in the heart of North Canton, which is home to an "in the process" construction of a veterans memorial in the park which is slated to open in November?
A source tells the SCPR that when the project was first announced, the World War II Veterans Monument Committee said it had all the funds the it needed to do a complete project.
At the same Monday night meeting there was talk of another $40,000 being needed this year to fund North Canton's share of the "in process" Main Street Signal Coordination Project. And it could even be higher if a $160,000 grant does not pan out. Interesting, no?
And just a few weeks ago, Council approved an "up fronting" of $15,000 on behalf of the North Canton Little League (which is to reimburse the city over a number of years) for the drilling of a "monitoring" well which is to double as a "watering" well for city ball fields that the league plays its games on.
Some citizens think the need for another monitoring well as a North Canton government concoction primarily designed to accommodate the Little League with free water (after the capital cost of drilling the well), while making North Cantonians think that the primary reason for the well was for water safety reasons.
These kinds of understatements and contortions of government are phenomena which give birth to a growing skepticism of the credibility of government. Moreover, there is a growing public perception that government is a respecter of connected persons and groups and not about exclusively working across the board for the general public good.
Another puzzlement in North Canton is the decision to keep former City Administrator Earle E. Wise, Jr. on the City payroll at a healthy salary of about $70,000 (down from about $95,000) in a job that seems to be amorphous at best in terms of job description. Both numbers are straight salary. They do not include the cost of fringes.
The question is this: what kind of value does North Canton get out of paying the $70,000 plus benefits? For Wise's retention to make sense in the light of the City's budgetary problems, North Canton's decision makers on this matter need to go public with their specific reasons why he is value added.
North Canton just let go a substantially lower paid person who used to work for Wise. The reason? Budgetary constraints. Hmm?
What is wrong with this picture?
Is this yet another example of a selectivity and contortion of government that leaves citizens negative, skeptical and even cynical about the candor and even-handedness of government officials?
Are some North Cantonians "more equal than others?"
North Canton officials say they have budgetary problems, but they certainly are not acting as if they do.