Friday, March 22, 2013



Prosecutor John Ferrero 
Stark County Police Chiefs 
Stark County Delegation
Ohio General Assembly
Local Gov't Fund Cuts


SCOG Administrator
Don Archer
Bleak Picture
Financial Future
Canton-Stark Co. Crime Lab 

Canton City Council 
President Allen Schulman
Stark County Legislators
Local Gov't Funding Cuts 
Yesterday, the SCPR attended a Stark County Police Chiefs meeting with representatives of the Stark County Council of Governments (SCOG) Executive Committee.

The Topic?

The threat to the continued existence of the Canton-Stark County Crime  Lab (Crime Lab/CSCCL) due to draconian cuts to local government funding at the hand of the State of Ohio through Ohio Legislature budget cuts over the past several years.

There is in place an agreement that Stark's cities, villages and townships will annually allocate 9% of their local government funding to SCOG in order to fund the Crime Lab.

Here is Crime Lab administrator Don Archer providing the police chiefs with a very graphic description of the dire condition of the lab's financing.  

In 2014, the CSCCL faces a $500,000 short fall.  And  if one goes back to the heyday of Crime Lab funding (2007), its budget has taken about a three quarters of a million dollar ($750,000) hit because of the huge State of Ohio reduction in its distribution from the Local Government Fund.

There were some calls at the meeting for dipping into sales tax revenues being generated from the passage In November, 2011 of an 0.5% issue.  Waynesburg Chief of Police William Bath took the position that the police chiefs supported the sales tax issue, at least in part, because of a promise that a significant part of the Crime Lab's monies would come from the revenues it generated. 

If the commissioners were to specifically earmark sales tax money to the CSCCL, then it would mean less money for the sheriff's department, the prosecutor's office, and other Stark County criminal justice units for which the tax issue was designed.

In effect, Ohio's cut on local government funds forces taxes be raised in one form or another at every level of Stark's local government.

Yes "local tax increases" forced by the Ohio General Assembly:  Be it the county (sales tax), township (road, fire, Park and EMS levies), cities and villages (income tax increases).

And get this.  What has happened to the money taken away from local communities?  The State of Ohio has used the money to balance the state budget.

Such is a form of creative tax increase legislation whereby Ohioans taxes go up at the local level but the appearance is that Ohio is reducing taxes.

Talk is that Governor Kasich who is running for re-election in 2014 is going to push through a tax reduction on the state income tax level during this 130th Ohio General Assembly.

He is depending on an easily fooled electorate buying into the "apparent" tax reduction and ignoring that the cost of government is in reality rising exponentially at the local level.

So who takes the political hit?

You've got it!  Commissioners, mayors, city councilpersons, trustees and board of education members.

Meanwhile, the governor gets re-elected campaigning on:  "Hey, folks, I reduced your taxes!"

One thing you very rarely see among police chiefs (usually very conservative and politically inactive folks, at least in public view) is agitation to get in the face of other public officials.

But yesterday they were exhorted by Prosecutor John Ferrero to do just that each and every time they see a member of the Stark County delegation to the Ohio General Assembly.

He even used the term expression:  "Harass them."

Interesting, no?

If the chiefs follow Ferrero's admonition, it is likely to get the attention of the likes of state Senator Scott Oelslager, state Representative Kirk Schuring, state Rep. Christina Hagan, (Republicans which constitute a super majority in the Legislature) and state Rep. Stephen Slesnick (a Democrat).

As far as the SCPR is concerned Oelslager (a legislator since 1988) and Schuring (a legislator since 1995) for all their combined 43 years in the Ohio General Assembly (switching back and forth between the Ohio House and Senate to get around term limits) have produced relatively little for Stark County.

Yesterday, Commissioner Tom Bernabei said that about 10 years ago Stark County received about $19 million in State of Ohio local government funding.  The projection for 2013/14 is a little over $8 million.


Stark County has gotten cut almost 60% on the Oelslager/Schuring watch going back to 2002/2003.


Nevertheless, Stark Countians keep sending them back to Columbus?

And local officials have in the opinion of the SCPR aided and abetted their becoming fixtures in the Legislature in providing public forums for them to appear in the form of council meetings, trustee meetings and the like to make cameo, grandstanding-esque appearances to engage in glad handing with these very same officials.

It has been rare indeed that the SCPR has ever heard a councilperson, a trustee, or a board of education member put either Oelslager, Schuring, Hagan, or Slesnick on the griddle when they make their public relations appearances at about election time.

These four must chuckle to themselves about how they have just fooled the people, no?

Of course, none of the four have the b_ _ _ s to sit down with the SCPR and answer the incisive questions that only yours truly (of all the Stark County media) has for them.

Not on their life would they ever, ever do that!  

For they know that yours truly has the background knowledge of their specific work in the Legislature and the ability to analyze that work or lack thereof and to frame questions the answers to which (if compelled by the SCPR's persistent questioning on point until the question asked is answered) would prove politically embarrassing to them if not make them vulnerable to not being re-elected.

In short, Oelslager, Schuring, Hagan and Slesnick work very hard to avoid accountability to Stark County voters.

The most active Stark County public official in going after the Legislature and specifically after Oelslager, Schuring and Hagan has been Canton City Council president Allen Schulman.  (LINK to a prior SCPR blog)

A few weeks ago he as council president issued letters to federal and state legislators to come to council and explain why local governments are being cut.

Oelslager said he is too busy.  Schuring and Slesnick said they would come, but does anyone believe they really will?  Hagan just totally blew Canton off.  And the congressmen?  No way they are coming to Canton, Ohio!

The SCPR learned today that Alliance is facing up to a million dollar deficit in it budgeting.

Of course, Massillon has felt the crunch too.  City officials (council, not the mayor) have put an income tax issue on to increase it by 0.2% and also reduced the credit that Massillonians, who work outside the city and pay taxes to other jurisdictions, get.

On March 15th, Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry laid off seven (7) from the city's Roads and Highways department because the city was looking at a $600,000 deficit this year.

North Canton is looking at about a $1 million deficit.

Canton citizens are pushing the Healy administration to add 25 or so new policemen to the Canton force to get it up to 175 officers as soon as possible. 

But where is the money to come from in the face of massive cuts that Ohio has visited on the Hall of Fame city?

Schulman told the activists to go after their legislators.  But will they follow his direction?

All these cuts are being made in the midst of Ohio having generated a $1.7 billion and trending higher surplus (per Schulman, see video above).


With all the furor in Stark County from many different quarters about the cuts being made in various government services, is life in the hometown about get a lot more uncomfortable for Oelslager, Schuring, Hagan and Slesnick?

Are they about to have to face discordant music for their failure to protect Stark County local government funding?

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