Friday, April 11, 2014


UPDATED:  10:30 AM


(From 03/10/2014)

(From 03/10/2014)

It is appearing more and more that there is going to be no agreement between Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry and Massillon City Council on a Massillon financial recovery plan.

At least the mayor did present council's plan to the state mandated commission overseeing Massillon's fiscal emergency situation.

However, the plan was rejected in a 7 to 0 vote.

Back on March 20th, the SCPR wrote:

The SCPR for one will be surprised if she [the mayor] relents.

The expectation is that if the mayor had not accepted as of the end of yesterday the following consequences will flow:
  • a 15% reduction in the city's budget using April, 2013 appropriation numbers, 
  • to be implemented on April 1, 2014, and 
  • to continue until the mayor and council agree on a plan
Looking at the politics of the situation, it could be that many if not most council members are just fine with the 15% cuts.

The die could be cast as early as this coming Monday night (April 14, 2014) when council is set to meet in a work session with the Massillon Financial Planning and Supervision Commission.

The commission is headed up by State of Ohio Office of Management and Budget representative Sharon Hanrahan.

The SCPR assesses that council has done 75% or more of the giving in negotiations with Catazaro-Perry.  But as The Report has written:  Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry is projecting herself these days as "one tough lady" in the order of  "The Iron Lady" Margaret Thatcher, former (now deceased) prime minister of Great Brittain.

The Report understands that a number council persons think that a scaled down tax issue would not pass even if placed on November's general election ballot.

The SCPR was at a work session of Massillon City Council on March 10th.  Out of that session there were two interesting items to come up (for the acerbic exchange between Catazaro-Perry and Councilman Ed lewis of to this YouTube LINK);
  • Citizen Sam Daut asking Councilman Paul Manson why council would not consider putting a income tax measure for a limited period of time (5 years) on the ballot, and
  • Councilman Lewis responding to Mayor Catazaro-Perry's allegation that his insistence on conditioning the reduction of the income tax credit to the passage of an income tax increase as being his electioneering for the upcoming 2015 municipal elections

The SCPR thinks Daut raised a good point.  But The Report's impression that a limited duration income tax increase is not even on the radar.

The Lewis portion of the video The Report thinks goes a long way towards understanding why the ambient hostility between many on council and the mayor makes it very unlikely that they can reach a concord on a plan for Massillon' financial recovery.

And it does not look as if council is going to relent on rolling back the mayor/council negotiated reduction in credit that Massillonians working out of down get on Massillon income taxes should the proposed city income tax increase fail.

(SCPR Note:  [the proposal]  Reduce the credit that Massillonians who work out-of-town get for income taxes paid to the other city/village from 100% of up to the current 1.8% to 75% of that amount which will become 1.9% if Massillons agree to the .1% increase on an upcoming ballot initiative.

As long as Catazaro-Perry projects an "in-your-face" disposition in her relationship with many if not most of council's members, it is hard to see how there can be an agreement that spares the city the 15% across-the-board cuts that may be instituted as soon as next month.

From the beginning of the Catazaro-Perry's administration, she has achieved very little in terms of having a harmonious "let's work together" relationship with council.

The SCPR thinks that base of her rocky start with council had to do with the fact that Republicans took control of council while Catazaro-Perry was focused on her own election as mayor.

While the Democrats are once again in control (just barely at 5 to 4), only one or two of them are likely to support the mayor in her overall battle with council.

Last month an out-of-state developer stepped forward with a project which should have been a "no-brainer" in terms of Catazaro-Perry and council working together to bring the proposal (an aquarium/waterpark combo) to reality.

But that hasn't happened and the SCPR will not happen as long as the site contemplated is the city owned "The Legends" golf course.

Originally the plan was for the developer to lease the "excess" (i.e. the 9 holes added to the original 18 holes) part of the golf course for $10 per year for a term of 30 years.

The neighborhood surrounding The Legends is one of Massillon's posh neighborhoods and to have a very large aquarium/waterpark in the daily eyesight of the residents in an idea that is never, ever going to fly.

There is talk that that the developer is revamping the plan to included a buy out of The Legends for $15 million which would wipe out an outstanding $5.4 mortgage with yearly payments of about $500,000 per annum.

Return to the surrounding neighborhood factor.

As sweet as it would be for Massillon to be out of the golf course business for many Massillonians, there is indication that council may reject any such overture because members would not want to leave those who live in the vicinity of The Legends having to deal with the visage of the proposed commercial enterprise in what is essentially (notwithstanding that the golf course itself is a commercial endeavor) an upscale residential neighborhood.

Were the plan to be reconstituted in terms of its location, the SCPR gets the impression that the aquarium/waterpark project might be the occasion of "a new beginning" upon which the mayor and council could build on over the next year.

Even if the mayor and council were able to develop "a working relationship," there is very little likelihood that it could approximate what a healthy executive/legislative relationship should be.

For this time next year, political season will be in full swing.

It could be that Catazaro-Perry will draw a Democratic Party opponent in next year's primary.

Meanwhile, The Report hears that Massillon's Republican Party leadership is pushing Ward 6 Councilman Ed Lewis, IV to step up and position himself to be the Republican standard bearer in November, 2015.

As far as the SCPR is concerned, Mayor Catazaro-Perry and her political advisers have ill-served Massillonians in frittering away the first two and one-half years of her administration looking for a fight rather than using the break-in period of a new administration to build bridges.

It is all well and good for Catazaro-Perry for her own ego gratification to hone the role of being The Iron Lady.

But the citizens of Massillon deserve better!

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