Thursday, October 11, 2012
(VIDEO) COM'R FERGUSON GETS ASSIST IN "SHARED SERVICES" PUSH. CANTON TO GET 50 CENTS ON THE DOLLAR ON OHIO LOCAL GOV'T CUTS FROM CASINO REVENUES. REST OF STARK CO. GOV'TS TO GET ABOUT 25 CENTS ON THE DOLLAR.
Lame duck commissioner Pete Ferguson (his term ends December 31st in that he is not seeking re-election) is receiving an assist in his effort to get Stark County's political subdivisions (i.e. the county itself as well as Stark's villages, cities and townships) to share services.
His effort is to get a cooperative agreement among Alliance, Canal Fulton, Canton, Louisville, Massillon and North Canton on the sharing of services on matters related to implementation of and enforcement of building codes.
Stark County (through Ferguson's initiative) was recently awarded a $75,000 Kasich administration Local Government Innovation Fund grant to study the feasibility of collectivizing county/political subdivision services.
The SCPR has learned from a solid estimate published by Policy Matters Ohio (a centrist think tank) that the cure which local Ohio General Assembly members Hagan (R - Marlboro), Oelslager (R - Plain), Schuring (R - Jackson) and Slesnick (D - Canton) for the dramatic cuts in Ohio's Local Government Fund ("LGF" - to localities (50% over the 2012/13 fiscal year) in the form of casino profits will not begin to fill the financial void created by the LGF rollback.
Canton is the only Stark County entity that will recover 50% of its LGF loss. The rest of Stark's cities, villages and townships will get about 25 cents on the LGF lost.
And you can be sure that the only way a de facto consolidation of services can occur in Stark County is to go euphemistic and come up with a phrase like "shared services" to describe what looks like and smells like merger and for local communities to be up against it financially.
Stark's political subdivisions zealously guard their independence to the point that the independence becomes "turfism" which in the end hurts the local government in terms of competence and efficiency and all of Stark County in terms of the quality of services provided to the taxpaying public.
At what turned out to be the last "out-in-the-county" community meetings by the Stark County commissioners (ended because of poor attendance) in Lake Township on September 18th, the SCPR captured Commissioner Ferguson explaining to the two or three gathered his initiative and his progress.
Yesterday the The Report spoke with Commissioner Ferguson about his continuing progress as he approaches his end as a county office holder in 81 days.
As an update, he tells The Report that he sent out letters to the mayors/service directors of the Stark targeted communities to ascertain whether or not they have any interest whatsoever in becoming more efficient on administering their building codes.
Next he will hold a face-to-face meeting with interested communities. At the meetings he will be sharing with officials the savings they can expect to realize from "sharing services."
Beyond the meeting, the next step will be to do the study with the assistance of Stark County Regional Planning Director Robert Nau.
And finally, assuming that there will be a finding that the study will confirm that bringing multiple building departments will be determined to be efficient and cost saving, Stark County will ask Ohio to fund the actual implementation of shared services.
The SCPR reads Ferguson as being somewhat pessimistic that Canton and Alliance will be interested in his cost-saving initiative.
But he says, even if only one city from among Alliance, Canal Fulton, Canton, Louisville, Massillon and North Canton is willing to move forward with Stark County with the feasibility study that it likely will be a go from the State of Ohio.
The SCPR applauds Ferguson for his work and urges Alliance, Canal Fulton, Canton, Louisville, Massillon and North Canton to hear him out on his proposal and participate in the feasibility study.
In the end they can choose to continue to be turf-bound and thereby hurt their own taxpayers and citizens in terms of quality and convenience of services.
And if some choose to continue to stand off unto themselves, then cries of financial crisis or crunch have a rather empty ring to them, no?