It is difficult for the Stark County Political Report to commiserate with Jackson Township residents over the township's tight finances for one simple reason.
The man they repeatedly elect to represent them in the Ohio General Assembly (Republican Kirk Schuring) voted for all the cuts in local government funding that has put the township in a financial squeeze.
And it looks like Jacksonians will be the primary factor in his returning to the Ohio House (this time the 49th House District because of constitutionally required decennial redistricting) in November.
It is pretty apparent that his goal is own political preservation; not so much the interest of the folks who live in the 51st (to be the 49th) Ohio House District.
Schuring clearly is taking Jacksonians for granted. Accordingly, he had no problems whatsoever in voting to cut:
- in a draconian fashion, Ohio's Local Government Fund funding to communities like Jackson. Jackson's loss for 2013 is to be $696,971;
- in a "kill all the revenue to local government" fashion, the entire revenue base from Ohio's estate tax which will likely cost Jackson about $1 million in 2013;
- in a "not keeping our promises" fashion, the personal property tax as part of the 2006 tax reform package that brought Ohio the Commercial Activities Tax (CAT). Ohio was to hold local governments harmless on the loss of personal property tax. Of course, we all know that politicians of whatever stripe do not keep promises. Accordingly, Jackson will lose $21,336 of personal property tax revenues in 2013,
Jackson Township absolutely relied on the predictable $1 million, more or less, from Ohio's Estate Tax to keep its parks in a state-of-the-art condition.
With the estate tax revenue loss, the trustees had no alternative but to ask township residents to pass a new levy which they call current expense levy (so that revenues can be applied to both highway and park maintenance expenses) to the tune of about $1.32 million per year (reference: Certificate of Estimated Property Tax Revenue, Stark County Auditor Alan Harold [June 14, 2012] over its five year lifespan.
While Kirk Schuring is a gentleman and a scholar of sorts, he is not looking out for the best interest of the constituents of the townships, cities and villages which make up his House district in terms of local government funding.
So coming full circle, the SCPR believes that more and more of what used to be financial resources from Ohio flowing to local governments such as Jackson Township will be voted to be cut by the likes of Kirk Schuring and that the local taxes will have to go up if local governments are going to be able to provide services (such as a first-rate park system) that Jacksonians have come to expect.
If the "current expenses levy" does not pass and the only thing that Jackson Township trustees can do is "mow the grass" in Jackson's park system (as is clearly stated by township officials in the video below) because police, fire and highways by far and away are the primary concern of local governments, then it would be very unfair for township residents to badger the trustees about the unmet needs to sustain the parks.
Who they should go after is none other than the likes of J. Kirk Schuring! Only if they put they put the "political" fear of God in him will things change. Without electoral accountability, nothing will change.
Here is a video of Jackson Township trustees and Fiscal Officer Randy Gonzalez discussing the proposed levy last Wednesday evening.