Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is the man-in-charge of dispensing some $330 million of Ohio's share of a $25 billion federal-state settlement with the America's five largest mortgage companies.
One aspect of DeWine's plan is to make $75 millon available to Ohio's local government for the purpose of demolishing blighted properties. Stark County through its newly formed Land Reutilization Corporation will be the vehicle for some $2.3 million (Stark County's share) to be spent largely in Canton, Alliance and Massillon to demolish blighted properties.
He calls the project: the Moving Ohio Forward Demolition Grant Program.
Being the noble person he is, the attorney general has said that the first $500,000 of the grant to qualifying local government entities can be used without a local match. Otherwise, villages, cities and townships will have to provide $1 in local spending on demolition for every $1 coming out of the grant.
DeWine's actual words:
Recognizing the economic hardships facing local governments, the Attorney General will not require a match for up to the first $500,000 allocated to each County."Economic hardship facing local government?"
And who has a large part in creating the economic/financial hardships facing local governments?
You've got it! None other than the State of Ohio being run these days by DeWine's Ohio Republican Party.
DeWine's political party proteges in the form of Governor John Kasich and the huge majority Republican Ohio General Assembly (including Stark Countians Christina Hagan [Ohio House - the 50th], Kirk Schuring [Ohio House - the 51st] and Scott Oelslager [Senate - the 29th] are well on their way in delivering a punishing blow to local government finances.
They have gutted local government funding by 50% and the threat (by Kasich) is to eliminate the State of Ohio Local Government Fund entirely in the 2014/2015 biennium budget.
They have eliminated (effective: January 1, 2013) the Ohio Estate Tax 80% of which goes to local governments.
They have eliminated the personal property tax and have failed to fully hold localities harmless on their loses of revenue as promised in their 2005 tax reform initiative. A note. Christina Hagan was not part of the 2005 effort, but her father former state Rep. John Hagan was was.
So DeWine is "all heart" in his relaxing the local match factor on the $500,000 of a county grant, no?
One has to wonder what it would take for him to eliminate the local match for the entire grant amount ($2.3 million in Stark's case)?
One of the communities most in need of funds to demolish decrepit properties is the Stark County county seat: Canton.
Last night yours truly did an "on camera" with Mayor William J. Healy, II as to the prospect that the grant money coming to Stark would be of help to Canton in its demolish activity.
Healy tells the SCPR that since he has been mayor, Canton has demolished about 700 buildings. But he says that is probably on about 5 to 6% of what is needed to clear away all blighted properties.
The most disturbing part of Healy's comments is that he does not know where the local match money is coming from in order for Canton to dip into the $1.8 million of the $2.3 million which is subject to local match.
Watch Healy address the local match factor:
Massillon city government is in just as much of a financial stress, if not more than Canton, and The Report has not heard that Alliance has a lot of spare general revenue fund cash lying around looking for a project to fund.
So you just got to love politicians like Mike DeWine as they spin the use of taxpayer dollars (which the settlement money is in reality) to make it appear how generous they are being as they taketh away with one hand (Kasich and the Ohio General Assembly) and they "sort of" replenish in another but only if you qualify and it is unlikely you have the resources to qualify with.
Hmm? Something wrong about this picture?
He will be reporting to council on a monthly basis going forward.
What was not brought up by any councilperson was where is Canton going to come up with the money for "the local match."
Could this be because as financial matters stand in Canton now, there is no money for the local match? Remember Canton is projecting a $4 million to $4.5 million shortfall in the 2012 budget.
SCLRC leader Alex Zumbar was all worried that Stark County would miss out on its $2.3 million because it could not meet the original July 2, 2012 attorney general filing deadline.
Up steps the generous DeWine and extends the deadline to August 31st.
But to what end?
It could be that neither Canton, Alliance, Massillon nor any other Stark County local government entity has "free cash" just lying around waiting for a state government grant match up.
So it will be interesting to see whether not Stark County will end up sending $1.8 million back to the magnanimous State of Ohio attorney general's office.
That should go over well with Stark County taxpayers, no?