Wednesday, July 27, 2011


The county commissioners work session of yesterday was spellbinding.

And today's regular meeting is one Stark Countians should not miss (1:30 PM at the Stark County Office Building, 2nd floor commissioner meeting room).  Commissioners will be deciding how much of a sales tax increase they will be putting on the ballot and for how long.

One of the most dramatic parts of the work session was a vivid description given by Stark County Sheriff Chief Deputy Mike McDonald (a candidate to succeed his boss Tim Swanson) on the dangers that lurk in the Stark County Jail for "reduced staff" deputies and corrections officers who have to deal with unwieldy numbers of in mates.

Here is a video of McDonald and his horrifying description of current jail conditions (ask yourself, he he employing scare tactics?):

The Repository also had video of the McDonald statement with its coverage and a little bit of what Sheriff Swanson had to say for a total of 2 minutes and 53 seconds.

Later on in this blog, the SCPR provides Stark Countians with the entirety of what Swanson and McDonald had to say for a total video presentation of 15 minutes.  For in depth and more extensive coverage of the financial crisis, the place to come is, of course, the Stark County Political Report.

Let's back up a minute and provide some background for the meeting.

For several weeks now, the Stark County commissioners have been in intense email negotiations with the departments of Stark County government about their ability to comply with commissioner requests that they sustain 40% in budget cuts in 2012 (from the 2011 appropriation) in the event that a planned sales tax levy (probably a 1/2 cent) fails.

Some departments for various reasons cannot abide any cuts whatsoever and those departments are the ones listed "in black" on the document set forth below.  In the case of the Stark County Veterans Service Commission, it outright refuses to make any cuts as a matter of entitlement.

Those listed "in red" are departments who said they could make limited cuts (see the blue numbers), but who will sustain 40.07% cuts if the November levy fails except for Family Court at 18.24% and Telecommunications at 25.79%)

Getting to Sheriff Swanson's operation, here is a his line item on the projected cuts document:

As readers of the SCPR can see, if the November levy fails then the Sheriff will go from $13,884, 409 to $8,320.960 which equals a reduction of over $5.5 million and is 47.5% of his 2007 budget amount.

What will Sheriff Swanson do in terms of cuts to live within the $8,320,960 budget?

Here is his list of actions he will have to take:

When the commissioners were conducting their community meeting series (22 of them in total), they encountered a lot of skepticism about the dire financial condition of Stark County.  Frequently, they heard citizen response of "scare tactic" when they warned about severe cuts in criminal justice were in the offing if a sales tax was not passed in 2011.

The SCPR's take is that citizens have to make a decision.  Are they willing to risk that the commissioners are spoofing them?  For if they are not, then denying them the additional revenue they say they need will be putting Stark County in a deeper hole than it already is.

Bad news surfaced today on the employment front.  Stark County increased from 9.3% (May) to 10.0% in June.  And besides that Stark County does not compare favorably to its neighbors.

But one statistic Stark does best its neighbors is its sales tax.


Here are the videos of Swanson and McDonald and their input with commissioners yesterday:

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