On September 23, 2010 the then Mayor Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr. gave up the ghost in his effort to annex the Bit of Eden mobile home park AND the Tuslaw schools.
The attempted annexation had become a political hot potato and Cicchinelli perceiving such tried to get ahead of the political opportunism of he thought he saw his to be foe availing herself of in what he was sure would be Kathy Catazaro-Perry running against him in the March 6, 2011 Democratic primary. (See the SCPR blog of September 25, 2010)
As it turns out, Cicchinelli was right about his then challenger-in-waiting but his action on September 23rd turned out to be a case of too little, too late.
Cicchinelli himself now says that the hordes of Tuslaw connected people campaigning against him in Massillon (particularly, the sixth ward) was a key factor to his losing to Catazaro-Perry in the primary.
However, Cicchinelli never conceded to those Massillon opponents of Bit-of-Eden who questioned the overall benefit of the schools annexation to the revenue stream of Massillon city government.
A prime reason that Cicchinelli gave for running again in 2011 was his intent to continue pursuit of his aggressive annexation policy.
He was convinced that his dogged annexation program was highly beneficial to Massillon.
At last night's Massillon City Council (Council), Councilman-at-Large Larry Slagle took a few minutes to talk about the shortfall on state funding of local government in the form of no more money from the Ohio Estate Tax beginning in January 1, 2013.
The occasion was the impending Council vote on Resolution 3-12 requesting that the Stark County Auditor and Treasurer pay over to Massillon 75% of the estate and inheritance tax for the period July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012 (aka FY 2012).
Slagle who happens to be a staunch Democrat lashed out at Republican Governor Kasich and the Republican dominated Ohio General Assembly for giving away vitally needed local government revenue (he says about $300,000 for Massillon this year, but it varies from year to year).
Getting back to Cicchinelli and annexation, Democrat Councilman Paul Manson told the SCPR last night (himself an ardent advocate of annexation) that had Massillon stayed the course on the Bit-of-Eden annexation that included the Tuslaw schools, the city would have realized about $160,000 annually.
Well, with Massillon unable to pay its bills on a timely basis, wouldn't $160,000 be looking very good these days?
So for Mayor Catazaro-Perry the whole Tuslaw annexation thing has to be bittersweet thing. On the one hand the issue may have been the difference maker in her defeating Cicchinelli. But on the other she now has to govern and one of the major problems besetting her administration and Council is finding the revenues with which to balance the city budget and get back to paying the city's bills as they become due.
And by the way, there was discussion/vote at last night's meeting about whether or not to rescind a service agreement previously approved by Council for the scaled down Bit of Eden annexation. In the end, only Ward 4 Councilman Tony Townsend favored rescission. There does seem to be concern on the part of a number of councilpersons that Massillon not come out on the short end of the financial stick.
Council still has the option to abandon the annexation. However, Councilman Manson tells The Report that he believes that ultimately (perhaps, by spring) Council will formally accept the annexation.
But it will not have the financial benefit that former Mayor Cicchinelli had in mind to the tune of $160,000 or so.
Though he dearly loves Massillon and certainly does want to see the once grand industrial city have financial troubles, if the abbreviated - minus the estimated $160,000 in annual revenue - does get accepted, it could be that Massillonians can be sure that Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr will be having "the last laugh!"