Thursday, September 15, 2011


From what the SCPR is hearing from various Stark Countians, the proposed 1/2% sales tax increase (Issue #29) faces an uphill battle.

But Commissioner Janet Creighton is optimistic that proponents of the increase can "educate" enough Stark Countians as to the critical need to achieve an election day victory.  Here is a video of Creighton speaking to group of county employees this past Tuesday at a commissioner work session.

A 1/2% sales tax increase a victory?

Well, that is if "survival" is victory.

If the 1/2% passes, Stark County will limp along.  But it will not be in a position to aggressively do the thing that the county needs and that is to put together an organized, sophisticated effort of economic development.

The Report recognizes that, as Commissioner Creighton alludes to, too many past commissioners have not served Stark County well.  And trust of local government may be at the lowest level that it has ever been at in the county.

So the public attitude seems to be:  why would you want to put money into a government structure you do not trust? 

Yours truly would one-up Commissioner Creighton and say that a number of other (i.e. other than commissioners) Stark County elected officials have not served the county well in that they appear to be and have been more interested in advancing their personal political agenda and taking care of their political friends and allies as opposed to the well being of the citizens of Stark County. 

These folks have done enormous damage to public confidence in Stark's local government and now "the chickens are coming home to roost."  Also, there has been a number of elected officials who have operated to the advantage of the Stark County public but who have stood by and not uttered a word of protest as some of their colleagues have played the political card at taxpayer expense in bringing people into Stark County government whose main virtue seems to be that they are politically connected. 

Local government jobs are to be accessible to all citizens and not set aside for some elected or appointed official's relative or political loyalist.

Those officials who do not do such in operating their offices, need to step forward and identify those who do.  Otherwise, they are part of the problem in that they do no evil while they turn their heads aside making sure that they not see or hear any evil.  There has to be collegial accountability in Stark County as a part of restoring trust to Stark County government.

It could be that until the 2012 election has come and gone and Stark Countians have had an opportunity to remove the remaining "its all about me" types who remain in office, that Stark County officials can truly rebuild trust between the citizenry and those that govern.

The current board of commissioners is an improvement of what Stark has had in some time.  However, the 1/2% will not allow them to show what they can do with sufficient resources.  In the judgment of The Report, the 1/2% will only work if the commissioners have a follow-up plan to further educate county voters, in an environment of vastly improved trust, that more revenue is merited and that it will be put to use to make Stark County an economic powerhouse which lure jobs and highly skilled workers to our county.

More revenue does not mean that commissioners and other elected county officials do not have an obligation to continue to pare down and pressure the elimination of wasteful structures of government (multiple building departments, health departments and information services departments), unmerited programs (Stark County Fair Board subsidy) and build greater accountability in terms of requiring specific return on the county dollar investment reports from the likes of the Port Authority and the Stark Development Board.

As local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley keeps hammering away at, the commissioners need to take the lead in pressuring the likes of the sheriff's department to get its benefits package in line with what is being done in the private sector.

One of the dangers of what the commissioners are now saying about their intent to take much of money to be raised by a 1/2% increase and restore the sheriff to his 2011 level of funding is that he will feel no need to address the issue that Conley raises.

Should the commissioners allow that to happen, then they will no longer be able to point the finger at previous boards of commissioners as not showing "due diligence" with county taxpayer money.

They then will be thought to be "more of the same" and thereby become part of the increasing  disenchantment of everyday citizens with those who govern us.

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