Back on September 19th Stark County officials from the treasury, the prosecutor's office and, of course, the commissioners themselves sat down to review the progress being made to collect upwards of $40 million in back property taxes owned by Stark Countians.
It is unclear whether or not any net progress is being made on the collection of the $40 million in unpaid property taxes. For every collection being made, it could be that it is offset by new delinquencies coming on the list. Stark County Auditor Alan Harold says that whether or not progress is being made will not be known until about the end of October.
The fact there is $40 million, more or less, in back taxes owed is in and of itself an indictment of county officials to the effect that they have not been exercising "due diligence" on behalf the "we pay our taxes and pay them on time" segment of Stark taxpayers.
Also, hurt by the lack of "due diligence" has been local school district, township, village, city and other property tax dependent local government entities who are being shorted by the failure of the Stark treasury and the Stark prosecutor's office.
Now comes Stark County Prosecutor John D. Ferrero (who the SCPR sees as a principal county officeholder who, along with Treasurer Zeigler, as not getting the job done in collecting the back taxes), appearing at a July meeting of elected county officials and spoke of the impending reduction of his professional staff to a skeleton-esque operation should an increase in the county sales tax fail this November.
The obvious implication of a sales tax increase failure for back property tax collection going forward into 2012: "forget it!"
Had it not been for local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley bringing the arrearage front and center to Stark County political dialogue, you can bet your bottom dollar that the September 19th commissioners' work session would not have happened in the first place: "out-of-sight; out-of-mind!"
Also to be commended is former or "usurper" (as Zeigler's attorney describes him in court pleadings but who the SCPR sees as having been a first-rate public official) Republican Stark County Treasurer Alex Zumber. He is the treasurer who got the ball rolling on collecting delinquencies.
it was a bit much for yours truly to sit and listen to Ferrero on September 19th (see video at the end of this paragraph) point out that only 3.58% of property taxes collected go to the county.
The apparent Ferrero intended message is that collecting the back property taxes will not solve the county's impending financial/fiscal problems.
Obviously, Ferrero doesn't see or is conveniently ignoring that "the other side of the coin" message is that since Stark County profits so little (i.e. 3.58%), what incentive has there been and continues to be for county officials to push for collection of the monies.
In doing so, he is setting up yet another "distrust" of county government factor.
Both Ferrero and Zeigler originally were political appointees (Ferrero a former Stark County Democratic Party chairman who was chairman when Zeigler was appointed by the Party's central committee) who, in the opinion of yours truly, are mainly interested in their own personal political longevity and not in serving the Stark County public and taxpayer interest effectively.
Both ran "unopposed" in 2008, and in the case of Zeigler, the now Stark County Auditor Alan Harold has let it be known he (Harold) believes that Zeigler put pressure on Harold's then employer - Huntington Bank - to force him out of his projected race against Zeigler.
Though it is breaking apart these days, the SCPR sees Zeigler and Ferrero as having been (and Ferrero, in the judgment of The Report, continues to be) quintessential members of the Stark County Democratic Party's "good ole boys" network.
Whether it is a Democratic Party "good ole boy" network, or a Republican one at work (e.g. Stark GOP Chair Jeff Matthews seeing to it that former Stark GOP Executive Director Travis Secrest gets a Stark Board of Elections job), the ramification on a county government that house these folks is that of growing distrust.
It is clear to the SCPR that those running the Yes for Safety Issue 29 campaign are focusing on documenting "need" using "fear of consequences" messages if the 1/2 cent issues does not pass as their approach.
What they are not focusing on is whether or not Stark Countians trust county government to have 1/2 cent more on the dollar.
For if they did, Issue 29 surely would not pass?