We all know that only very rarely are things as they appear.
The SCPR believes such is the case in the drama unfolding in Massillon with the Catzaro-Perry administration ordered layoffs of 27 Massillon workers including 19 safety workers.
It seems as if council and the mayor are on the same page.
However, to The Report an underlying political battle (especially for the Republican members of council) is underway about reducing the size of government over and against Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry's desire to hold on to as many city workers as she can. Accordingly, the mayor is clearly on the size of building revenues.
It was a stinging setback to Catazaro-Perry when her plan to reduce the Massillon income tax credit for Massillonians paying income taxes to other municipalities was rejected 8 to 1 by Massillon Council earlier this year.
Media reports of Monday's meeting indicate to The Report that most members of council, while regretful to see folks lose their jobs, felt that a resizing of Massillon's government is in order given the mismatch between city expenditures and revenues.
Reading between the lines, The Report wonders whether or not the administration beefed up the number of layoffs in order to put political pressure on council to revisit the rejection, and provide the mayor with an the additional $600,000 she had speculated would be available to her budget.
Take this quote of Finance Committee Chair Donnie Peters, Jr. from The Independent's Matt Rink piece (Council apologetic but stands by mayor, May 1st):
“I was a little shocked. I thought we could get by with 10 (layoffs). I was wrong. But we had no choice.”Moreover, from Councilman Ed Lewis, IV:
“Is it (layoffs) the decision that had to be made? Probably. We all knew it was coming. It’s just the fact of how much money we have. It’s not enough to pay everybody. I have to trust that the mayor made the best decision she could.”It could be that a "cat and mouse" political game is unfolding. Or, in politics, "the blame game."
Time will tell, but the SCPR is guessing that a majority of council will stick by its guns in forcing Massillon to become more fiscally responsible.
Massillon offers a striking contrast to Canton.
In Canton it appears that Mayor William J. Healy, II has council (all Democrats) in the palm of his hand (for the most part) and is in the process of orchestrating that it present to voters a ballot initiative for an increase in the city income tax from 2% to 2.5%.
Thanks to the election of 2011, Massillonians put in place a council with a razor thin Republican majority.
The newly elected majority plus some Democratic stragglers is demonstrating a willingness to engage in a give and take with the mayor on the critical issue of the fiscal integrity of Massillon finances.
Such is our democratic republic operating at its best.