Saturday, August 20, 2011


Wednesday last, the Stark County commissioner Janet Creighton announced that an "informal" effort was underway to advocate that Stark County voters agree to a 1/2% increase in the county sales tax.  Stark County is currently the lowest in all of Ohio (5.75%; all of which except 1/4% goes to the state of Ohio).  The 1/4% goes to the Stark County Area Transit Authority [SARTA]).

Here is Creighton's videotaped response to a SCPR question on an initiative to get a campaign up and running to persuade Stark Countians that we ought to provide more money for county operations.

So far as the SCPR is concerned, it seems clear that Stark County government needs an injection of new revenues.  The Report's reluctance is that 1/2% is "keeping one's head above water" and does not provide the resources needed to do county government (especially that promoting and planning for economic development) properly.

There are those who follow Stark government closely who vigorously disagree with the SCPR.  These folks believe that there is much more that can and should be cut in terms of county expenditures before Stark Countians should consider providing additional revenues.

Among the arguments made by the "anti-s,"  is that employment market forces are such (e.g. Stark County's and Ohio's unemployment rate increasing) that county officials are in a strong bargaining position (i.e. "an employer's market) to and ought to ask their employees to accept a 20% cut in their wages.  Moreover, the "anti-s" want a commitment from county officials to revisit pension and health care benefits (at the next opportunity, with reference to those county employees under union contract) and to scale the cost to the county downward.

If the upcoming (November 8th) election sees the defeat of the 1/2% proposed sales tax increase, then it appears that county officials will have no other alternative than to adopt the position of the "anti-s.

So in a way, the proposed 1/2% increase could be looked at as a referendum on which interest Stark Countians thinks most accurately reflects the sentiment of the county electorate.

The Report suspects that were the issue to be presented in such a "stark" contrast, voters would most likely side with county officials and vote them an additional 1/2% sales tax increase.

However, the vote is much more complicated than:  more revenue obviously needed versus the need to cut county employee wages and benefits.

Among the matters that hover over the sales tax issue include:
  • the commissioner (Bosley, Harmon and Vignos) imposed 1/2% sales tax increase of 2008,
  • Sheriff Swanson lashing out at the public a la "poop on the public,"
  • the surfacing of what appear to be "on the part of the public" perceived management issues within the Stark County treasurer's office in light of the revelation on April 1, 2009 of the theft of at least $2.46 million by former Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci,
  • the inability of Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero's office to convince the Ohio Supreme Court to keep Gary D. Zeigler out of Stark County government,
  • the frustration of some segments of the Stark County electorate with the county's lack of a sustained program and a plan (going back over boards of commissioners back to the 1980s) to deal with chronic flooding problems (attributable to Stark's unmaintained ditch artery system) in certain parts of the county,
  • the circus-like atmosphere that seems to be surrounding the commissioners effort to get Zeigler a bond so that he can once again become a "full fledged" Stark County treasurer, 
  • the inability of county and city officials across the Stark County political landscape to get their act together to consolidate, merge, collaborate on common functions (9-1-1, building departments, health departments, and information technology, and the like), 
  • for some of us, the lack of a thoughtout, well-funded, energetic and visionary economic development program to abate Stark County's chronic unemployment problem, and 
  • emerging revelations that the commissioners have not solved problems (again, going back to previous boards of commissioners) at the Stark County Dog Pound.
Given the complicated overlay of the cited factors on the sales tax increase issue, the SCPR believes that "it will take a miracle" to gain passage of the of the issue.

Hence the SCPR graphic showing a person in a prayer mode!

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