It was interesting to hear Mayor Kathy Catzazro-Perry accuse Massillon City Council (at least her opponents on the issue of reducing Massillon income tax credit for Massillonians who pay taxes to other communities) of playing politics with the issue.
Well, as the SCPR sees it, the administration and councilmatic ally Larry Slagle (on the tax credit reduction issue) played a little game of their own last night.
At first it did not fit in The Report's thinking that Slagle voted "no" on a motion to suspend the rules on three readings so that the mayor could have an up or down vote for the third time.
NOTE: Third time?But on reflection, it appears to The Report that what Slagle (the only councilperson to vote for the reduction back in March), was really doing was "saving the mayor's bacon." For if an up or down vote had taken place last night, it was obvious that the issue was going down to defeat at least by a 5 to 3 margin with Chovan, Halter, Lewis, Manson and Peters voting (Cunningham - thought to be another no vote - was absent because she had been in a traffic accident earlier in the day).
In a technical sense of an "up or down vote," there has only been one up or down vote [March, 2012; 8 against, 1 for].
The first time (late last year with the outgoing council) was not an actual vote on the merits of the question, but rather a refusal to put it on the agenda. And, of course, last night was not an actual vote on the merits of the question, but merely a vote on whether or not to allow a vote at last night's proceedings.
Catazaro-Perry was fortunate to have the opportunity to avoid yet another humiliation. Had Cunningham be able to attend, Slagle's move would have been unavailing as she undoubtedly wold have voted to suspend the rules and her vote would have provided the necessary seventh vote to carry the day on the matter.
Here's a video of the actual vote.
If the mayor has made any headway since the March vote, it will in be in possibly picking up the votes of Scassa and Townsend to add to the Slagle vote.
If there ever is going to be a chance that Catazaro-Perry could convince council to vote in favor of the reduced income tax credit, she may have blown it last night as she came out with guns blazing (figuratively speaking, of course) in a Johnnie A. Maier, Jr-esque power move which appeared to be an effort to intimidate council into doing the will of the mayor.
In an earlier blog this year, the SCPR wrote about the mayor's propensity to keep digging a deeper hole for herself in her endeavor to solve Massillon's financial problems.
Apparently, she wants to keep digging.
Here is a video of a sharp exchange between the mayor, Councilman Manson and council president Glenn Gamber on her being out of order during the discussion on the tax reduction issue.
Auditor Jayne Ferrero (perceived by some not to be a big fan of the mayor) lined up with Catazaro-Perry in pleading with council to pass the ordinance.
Here is a video of her plea.
If the administration's assessment of a failure on the tax issue (or, alternatively, other adequate revenue raising measures) is correct, then Massillonians (according to Finance Director Ken Koher) can expect Ohio's auditor to declare Massillon to be in a fiscal emergency and send in a team of auditors to go over Massillon's budget with a fine toothed comb and start making cuts.
The meeting was jam-packed with dramatic moments.
- Councilman Slagle's question of Finance Director about Massillon's failure to collect all that is due it (about $350,000 as drawn out in questioning by Councilman Chovan) in delinquent and collectible income taxes,
- Councilman Townsend asking whether not council's approving the reduced tax credit would result in the re-hiring of the laid off safety forces (answer: no, but may prevent future layoffs),
- Catazaro-Perry's assertion that there is no more room to cut Massillon's expenses be it street lighting or further layoffs,
- The vote last night was the most important vote of the year for council,
- Councilman Manson pitching his longstanding position that council place an increase in the city income tax rate from 1.8% to 2.0%,
- Councilman Manson in a back and forth with Finance Director Koher and Safety Director George Maier on the credibility of the numbers on the sufficiency of revenues (estimated to be $751,000) to solve Massillon's immediate financial quagmire,
- Councilman Lewis drawing out of the mayor her administration's plan to convince the Stark County auditor to allow Massillon to borrow against the projected revenues that an income tax credit would bring in so as to make the money available this year,
- The gaveling down of Catazaro-Perry and Manson (during Lewis's questioning) as a consequence of an argument ensuing as the mayor accused Councilman Manson of "not being serious" about his income tax hike proposal,
- Catazaro-Perry outline activities of the administration to increase Massillon's income tax base,
- Councilman Slagle: "Madame Mayor what is your position on an income tax increase?" and the mayor shifting the subject to the reduced income tax credit (ultimately refusing to answer the question) despite Slagle's objection,
- Councilman Manson referring to Catazaro-Perry's bad decisions of the past (presumably referring to when she served on council herself for 8 years),
The Report has compiled a video of the highlights of the drama.