UPDATE: 09:10 AM
A RESPONSE FROM COUNCILMAN KEVIN FISHER
Today at 8:50 AM
To Martin Olson
Regarding the vote to repeal the reduced tax credit and today's blog post, I wanted to give you a quick explanation of my vote. This was a tough vote for me, but in the end Mayor Healy stopped by my house with Coach McDaniels and the ghost of Marion Motley and convinced me that any good Bulldog would vote against the ordinance. Later we all sang the McKinley Alma Mater...a good time was had by all!!!
Seriously, It really was a difficult decision for me. I voted against the reduction of the credit in 2012 and continue to have concerns of its impact on construction workers and tradesmen, who routinely work a short amount of time in multiple jurisdictions in the course of a single tax year. This repeal measure, however, I felt was incomplete and failed to address several key issues...primarily, the lack of identifying where the subsequent cuts in spending would come from or creating replacement revenue in coming tax years. The city recently hired 35 safety officers...the cost of which will increase by nearly half a million dollars simply by going from first year to second year employees in 2015. The relocation of the Timken Research facility to the Airport will cost the city another half a million dollars. The impending passage of HB5 in the General Assembly will take yet another $750,000 from the city's General Fund (according to our Treasurer's Office estimate). This would have reduced that revenue by another estimated $400k per year. I have asked for weeks, including during the committee hearing for an accounting of how the revenue would be replaced or spending cuts would be made, and have yet to see said accounting. I felt, that as a member of the Finance Committee, this was the only responsible vote I could cast at this time.
I hope this answers any question you may have...and as always GO PUPS!!!
Kevin L. Fisher
Canton City Council - Ward 5
Last night Canton mayor William J. Healy, II reacted swiftly to Canton City Council's 7 to 5 vote to restore the income tax credit of Cantonians who work out-of-town to a full 2%. The vote was a reversal of a July 30, 2012 vote instituting a .3% reduction (LINK).
He address his promise to veto the ordinance in the following video. (SCPR Note: Healy also responds to a Councilman Bill Smuckler claim that he has gone on a spending spree in the five  months that Smuckler has returned to council after being off for two  years)
And here are the mayor's remarks during the pre-vote debate in which he argues for a delay on the vote.
The full text of the Healy administration press release in which Mayor Healy explains why he will veto Council's vote last night appears at the end of this blog.
Other players in the fight last evening included what the Stark County Political Report thinks are folks who may be interested in challenging Healy's right to continue on as mayor beyond December 31, 2015.
It will take eight (8) councilpersons votes to override Healy's promised veto.
Here is the actual vote from last night on Ordinance 24.
- Morris, YES
- Smith, NO
- Babcock, YES
- Smuckler, YES
- Hart, YES
- Hawk, YES
- West, NO
- Griffith, NO
- Fisher, NO
- Dougherty, NO
- Mariol, YES
- Mack, YES
Kevin is very tight with Treasurer Perez (having worked for Perez when he was Stark County auditor).
However, he - in the opinion of the SCPR - is one among the group of young (except, maybe Ward 9 councilman and majority leader Frank Morris) councilpersons that The Report has dubbed as being "the four young turks" (LINK to blog, August, 2012) that is most likely to depart from the turk-group "more or less, coalition" and side up with Mayor Healy in the tug-o-wars that materialize from time to time between the administration and a substantial part of council.
Some say that Kevin's susceptibility to siding with Healy is due to a relationship that has developed between the two on the basis of being Canton McKinley Bulldog fans who can be seen together on the sidelines of a Bulldog home football game.
But others say that such conjecture is balderdash. Kevin is a fiercely independent councilman and on the income tax credit issue was voting his perception of being the interests of his Ward 5 constituents.
Whichever is the correct take on Fisher, as the SCPR sees it, he is the one possibility for council to override the forthcoming Healy veto.
Below (in this blog) Kim Perez, Canton's recently elected (November, 2013) city treasurer expounds his position the tax issue.
Perez denies to the SCPR that he has gotten active in substantive (meaning policy issues) matters affecting Canton government operations as a build up to running against Healy in the May, 2015 Democratic Party primary election.
Healy, The Report thinks, gets somewhat dismissive of Perez on policy matters (at least to the SCPR) by describing him as being Canton's tax collector.
Here is what Perez had to say about eliminating the tax credit reduction.
Another player is long term councilman Bill Smuckler who recently took a two year break from council in order to run (unsuccessfully) for Stark County commissioner.
He lashed out at Mayor Healy in last evenings pre-eliminate-the-income-tax-credit vote for (since Smuckler has come back on council [which stands at five  months now) having hired new employees and giving pay raises all the while "crying the blues" about Canton's fiscal condition in the face of State of Ohio revenue cuts.
Of course, some think that Smuckler's attack on Healy is because he also has designs on the mayor's office. He defeated Healy in the 2003 Democratic primary for the right to run (in a losing effort) against Republican Janet Creighton. In 2011 he lost to Healy in the Democratic mayoralty primary. So a 2015 run would be "the rubber match" to break the tie of one election victory for each.
So around and around the wheel goes and where it stops will be at the seat of Councilman Kevin Fisher.
Fisher, the SCPR thinks, will decide whether or not the Healy veto gets sustained or overridden.
Mayor Healy's press release:
CANTON, Ohio - Mayor William Healy announced he will VETO the ordinance to increase the income tax credit to 100% if passed by council.
"As mayor of Canton, I have taken an oath to protect the citizens of Canton," stated Mayor Healy. "Therefore, any proposal which would affect hundreds of thousands of dollars and potentially impact essential safety and community services can only be considered after careful scrutiny and analysis."
Healy believes it would be fiscally irresponsible to support this tax proposal ordinance at this point in time when the basic facts related to the proposal have not been provided. Supporters of this legislation have not presented any financial information as to the economic impact this will have on our city. In addition, there is no indication how the city should offset this revenue stream or identify which services would have to be cut to enrich a select few who would benefit from this proposal.
Mayor Healy's concerns are as follows:
1. What is the amount of the reduction to our general fund and capital funds?
The City of Canton has lost over $6 million annually as a direct result of the Governor and State Legislature's reduction in funding local governments, including the cuts from local government funds, eliminating the inheritance tax and the tangible personal property tax over the past several years.
The tax credit for Canton residents working in another city was reduced from 100% to 85% to generate revenue to help offset some of those state cuts. The prior City Treasurer conservatively estimated this to be a $400,000 annual impact to the general fund based on our 2012 finances.
These state cuts have had a negative impact on communities across Ohio including every city in Stark County. Currently, Canton, Massillon, Alliance, Louisville and Canal Fulton all have tax credits of less than 100%, while North Canton is in the process of reducing theirs.
2. What services will be reduced, neglected or left insufficiently funded?
There has not been one serious discussion as to what services will be negatively impacted due to the reduction of revenue this ordinance will create. The citizens of Canton must be informed about what services would be cut to offset this lost revenue. Generally, when a cut of this magnitude is enacted, it means a reduction in workforce including police and firefighters, which use two-thirds of every dollar we spend from the general fund.
Citizens are asking for more police, firefighters, paving of streets, additional pot holes filled, and many other requests that all are paid from the general fund or capital accounts. City Council has also asked for more police and firefighters, more street paving, and even recently requested for the city to hire a Grant Writer, an Animal Control officer, and now a Nuisance Officer. These requests for increased spending have come at the very same time the city is being asked to reduce revenues. Mayor Healy states, "This is a clear contradiction. You cannot increase spending while reducing revenue. It just doesn't work."
3. Who will be impacted by this ordinance?
This ordinance is a tax cut for a targeted few who would be paying absolutely nothing in taxes to the city of Canton if this goes into effect. For example: If your neighbor works in Akron while you work in Canton, your neighbor contributes nothing towards our taxes while you subsidize every city service they receive. Every resident of Canton uses the same city roads you use, depends on the same police and fire protection you do, and benefits from the same street lighting that comes on every night to make your neighborhood safe. Yet, this ordinance would allow a select few of our city residents to completely avoid paying any taxes to the city of Canton.
However, the services that will be negatively impacted directly benefit all of our citizens. The passing of this ordinance will disproportionately harm seniors on fixed incomes and low income residents. These families will receive little or no tax savings from the passing of this ordinance, yet they could potentially lose essential safety services and community funds necessary to the vitality of their neighborhoods. Or worse, the only other option to avoid reducing services is to increase income or property taxes for everyone. This would disproportionately impact seniors and low income households.
4. Mayor Healy does not believe this is the right time to reduce taxes to our General Fund.
The mayor presented a complete and comprehensive financial update to Canton citizens on April 8, 2014 when he delivered his State of the City Address. Below is an excerpt from the state of the city delivered April 8, 2014:
"...The city of Canton is experiencing our strongest financial position we have seen in over a decade! Now please don't mistake this for us rolling in cash or having the ability to spend at will, because that is certainly not the case..." and followed it up with,
"...There are still some areas of concern, as our general fund cash flow is significantly lower than it was before the recession...""As we all know, the reason we are still millions of dollars below our pre-recession revenues is due soley to reduction of local support by State Government," Healy commented, "and, there is current legislation in committee (HB 5) that could negatively impact our city by even more. The threat of greater reductions by our Governor and State Legislature to the local communities is still out there, and the financial impact is uncertain."