Thursday, September 22, 2011

Apathy on YES! for Stark - ISSUE #29. A SIGN THAT ITS GOING DOWN?

The Stark County commissioners have done their damndest to get the Stark County public and local government officials aware of the impending financial crisis that stalks Stark County "county-level" government, but apparently to no avail.

From February of this year through June, the commissioners held 22 community meetings across the landscape of Stark County to meet the people and get their input on whether or not:
  • there should be a sales tax levy put on the ballot,
  • if so, for how much and for how long.
The community connection effort was a major bust!

For instance, in Canton nobody showed up and only two did so in Alliance.  Only in Perry and Jackson did significant numbers of citizens show an interest in connecting with their Stark County commissioners.  And those numbers (given the population of those township) were not anything to write home about.

Commissioners did not place a renewal of 1/4% sales tax that expired earlier this year because they felt that with the plummeting of the public's trust in county government, they (representing a new regime of commissioners with the November, 2010 election of Republican Janet Creighton and Democrat Tom Bernabei) needed time to connect with Stark Countians in a new model of local government which emphasizes accessibility, accountability, community connectedness and transparency.

Accordingly (i.e. being the only county in Ohio without a piggyback sales tax), Stark County government revenues are set to dive from being in the 50s millions to the 30 millions come 2012 and correspondingly will mandate a huge drop off in county services. 

It appears that among government types, only directly connected Stark County employees and officials are participating in meaningful numbers in the effort to get the 1/2% sales tax for 8 years placed on November's ballot passed.

This week the "Yes! for Stark ISSUE #29 Stark County 1/2 cent sales tax" committee decided to hold a series of three meetings (one in western Stark, one in central Stark and one in eastern Stark) to interest local government officials in seeing that they and their constituents have a compelling interest to pass the sales tax increase.

Another major bust?

It appears so.

Yesterday, after the Stark County regular Wednesday weekly meeting, Commissioner Creighton said that only one person showed up at R.G. Drage.

Given the unmistakeable apathy that the commissioners are seeing at the hand of the Stark County public and among local government types, it is hard to see that there is any way that the sales tax initiative can pass.

As the SCPR comes into contact with government officials throughout Stark County and the question of the fate of the sales tax is put to them by yours truly, the response:  "it is not going to pass."

Tax issues are hard to pass even when there is a core citizen group saying "let's campaign for this" and they follow through with the talk with action.  It seems to be an automatic response for voters to want to say "no" to any tax increase, especially so in these days of the tea party movement.

Add on the clear case of apathy that is underway among the Stark County electorate (including local government officials) and one has to wonder whether or not the 1/2 cent sales tax in reduced to the proverbial "snowball's chance in Hell?"

No comments: