Sunday, August 15, 2010
WILL THE STARK COUNTY'S 9-1-1 FUNDING MAKE IT TO THE STARK COUNCIL ON GOVERNMENTS (SCOG)?
Recently, yours truly had a conversation with Commissioner Todd Bosley in which the topic of funding for the Stark County Council of Governments' (SCOG) came up.
Stark Countians will recall that Bosley spearheaded an effort to "impose" a sales tax increase of 0.50 of one percent in December, 2008. The sales pitch for the sales tax was the repair of what he and many Stark County emergency force leaders tab as being a "broken 9-1-1 system."
However, a significant added reason (which was pushed into the background in justifying the tax) was getting more revenue for Stark County government general fund operations.
When "Vote No Increased Taxes" group got the retention or non-retention of the tax issue on the November, 2009 ballot, the pro-retention forces totally focused on the 9-1-1 aspect of the tax as being "the" reason why the tax should be retained.
Shortly after county voters overwhelmingly voted not to retain the tax (about 2 to 1 against retention), county commissioners began differing over putting the remaining revenue to be collected 50/50 into a 9-1-1 fund and the county general revenue fund.
Before former Commissioner Tom Harmon left office, he and Bosley had a public meeting difference over the division. His successor Steve Meeks (joined by Commissioner Pete Ferguson) adopted the Harmon position and some of the early-on 9-1-1 designated money ended up in the Stark County general fund.
So why is the topic coming up again?
Because Bosley fears that if the money is not actually transferred to SCOG before he leaves office on December 31st (he is running for state representative for the Ohio House - the 50th - against Republican Todd Snitchler), the money or parts of it will never make it to SCOG.
Is Bosley's concern well founded?
The SCPR thinks so.
If the planned renewal of 0.25 of one percent sales tax does not fly by the May, 2011 election, Stark County departments of government are looking at about 30% to 35% in "across-the-board" cuts in 2012.
It seems to logical to The Report that if the "9-1-1" share of the money is still accessible to the commissioners after Bosley leaves office and the renewal does not pass, then the temptation to divert the money - or at least some of it - to the general fund will be strong.
If such were to happen, Stark Countians are likely to be looking at a scaled down re-work of 9-1-1, and if that were to happen, then taxpayers would be in a "We told you so" mode.
So look for Bosley to bring this matter up in the several months.
There could be a real donnybrook between commissioners in the offing!