Canton mayor William J. Healy, II has embarked on a plan to raise revenues for the city to fund Canton's budget for 2013. (He calls it an "alternative budget" to one funded by an increase in the city's income tax) Apparently, his quest is to raise about $3.7 million. Although the exact amount is like trying to a hold on a slippery, wiggly eel.
Hizzhonor's has had some success in his piecemeal plan to fill the budget shortfall. However, it was a close call.
The ordinance passed was one to reduce the credit that work-out-of-Canton residents get for income taxes paid to other municipalities from 2.0% to 1.7%. The measure will raise about $400,000 annually.
towards filling the gap.
Council members Cirelli, Fisher, Hawk, Mack, Mariol and Morris voted no. It took a tie-breaking vote by Council President Allen Schulman for Mayor Healy to get this measure on the books.
However, at the same meeting, it became apparent that Mayor William J. Healy, II's proposal to have council authorize his administration to negotiate leases with the oil/gas industry to drill on city owned lands was NOT going the pass though the mayor had offered the prospect that leasing could, using a conservative estimate, raise at least $500,000.
For weeks, scores of Stark Countians (many of them Cantonians) took to the Public Speaks lectern to plead with council members not to vote for the ordinance.
After thinking it over, the deep thinkers of the Healy administration determined that council pre-authorization was not needed after all. The administration could proceed to try to interest oil and gas companies in negotiation a "conditional" lease contingent on council approval.
And then there was Monday night's council meeting.
On the agenda, the mayor's proposal to dissolve the Board of Park Commissioners. Mayor Healy says that disbanding the board will save Canton $100,000.
Again, Cantonians spring into action at the Public Speaks lectern.
Here is a video compilation of a number of the objections raised by citizens.
Many believe that the citizen action has been effective and that council is set to reject the proposal. A couple of weeks ago, the vote was calculated at being 7 against passage, 5 for passage.
However, it now appears that the Healy administration may have changed one vote and that council is deadlocked at 6 to 6.
If council proceeded to vote and the vote indeed turned out to be 6 to 6, then Council President Alan Schulman breaks the tie. And all indications are that Schulman will vote with the mayor.
Problem was on Monday night that Schulman was not present.
Postpone the vote!
Mayor Healy emphatically denies that the prospect of losing on an "up or down vote" is why Monday night's vote got postponed.
While Canton Law Director Joe Martuccio says he is the person who requested the postponement and thereby is being kind to the mayor, The Report believes the administration decided on Thursday, August 9th, that the measure was not going to pass as constituted and further determined that a change needed to be made in order for it to have any chance of passage. So it was on Thursday last that the administration asked Martuccio's office to prepare an amendment. And it was not just any amendment that the office could easily put together by Monday night. As explained in the following video, it was a highly complicated one in which a future council would be bound by the actions of the present council. So yes, Director Martuccio needed more time, but in reality who caused the delay?
You be the judge of whether or not the mayor is to be believed that it was not the lack of votes for passage that was the primary reason for the amendment and hence the delay needed to deal with a complex legal question thrown in at the last minute.
Because many believe that just about everything Mayor Healy does is whether or not he comes out on top, it is hard to find those who take the mayor at his word.
But the mayor is entitled to have his say. Subjects of SCPR blogs are always given all the space they need to respond to points made in any given blog.
Mayor Healy, for instance, even though The Report has critiqued him frequently in these pages has been willing over the last couple of years to go on camera with yours and explain, advocate for and defend his position on any given matter.
Hats off to the mayor for having the political maturity and fortitude to take on the direct, difficult and pointed critiques of The Report.
He stands head and shoulders above the likes of Stark County GOP chairman Jeff Matthews, Massillon Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry, state Rep. Christina Hagan and former Stark County Democratic Party chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr who, though they are taxpayer supported, think they entitled to blow off media who do not ask syncophantic questions.
Matthews et al are obviously to yours truly insecure public officials who cannot stand "the heat in the 'political' kitchen!"
The SCPR spent about 15 minutes with Mayor Healy after Monday night's meeting in order to provide him with ample opportunity to explain and justify his insistence that the thing for Canton to do is to dissolve the Parks Commission as it now exists.
Here is the video with the mayor.
There is more to come on controversial measures that council must pass on.
On Monday night's agenda under COMMUNICATIONS:
Eerily similar to what is going on now when it appears he does not have the votes, no?
Councilpersons Cirelli, Dougherty, Griffin, Hawk, Smith and West remain on council from 2009.
If the five no votes of 2009 remain steadfast, it is hard to see how the mayor can get this portion of his "alternate budget" through.
Councilman Edmond Mack tells the Stark County Political Report that he has already gotten calls from constituents telling him that they do not want him support the legislation.
And undoubtedly the remaining new councilmen are or will be besieged with calls from their constituents objecting to Redflex coming back into the picture; revenue producing or not.
First term incumbent councilpersons are the most vulnerable to citizen pressure. Expect 2013 up for reelection the first time Councilmen Fisher, Mack, Mariol and Morris to be especially sensitive to constituent pressure.
Taking those holdover councilperson who voted no in 2009 and coupling them with the likelihood that more than one of the newbies will join them, it is hard to see how the administration will be able to get the Redflex proposal through.
One possibility is that the proposal "apparently" gives individual councilpersons the ability to veto the introduction of the cameras into the councilperson's wards.
Below is a copy of Safety Director Reams letter outlining the substance of the proposal.
The question is whether or not the "councilperson veto power" will be the magic potion that enables the administration to flip the vote on whether or not Redflex traffic cameras are coming to Canton.