MAYOR THOMAS M. BERNABEI
AFTER TODAY THROUGH MARCH 15
Last Thursday The Stark County Political Report camped out at a fundraising event put together to raise campaign funds for Issue 5 which is an issue to fund Canton's parks and recreation facilities going forward.
Between today and March 15th, the SCPR will be publishing a series of interviews with:
- Canton mayor Thomas M. Bernabei (on Canton finances in general and park/recreation financing issues),
- Sam Sliman, a Bernabei administration official (on park/recreation financing issues),
- J.R. Rinaldi, a Canton City Schools board member (on park/recreation financing issue), and
- Andy Black, a parks and recreation board member (on park/recreation financing issue
Canton's parks used to be funded out of Canton's general fund to about the tune of $3 million annually. (LINK to Canton Parks and Recreation website)
In 2013, Canton voter approved a levy to provided dedicated funds to the parks. That levy expires on December 31, 2106.
Recreation activities for areas encompassing the Canton City Schools and the Plain Local Schools where funded by a levy administered by the Canton Joint Recreation District (CJRD). That levy expires on December 31, 2016.
The two activities (parks and recreation facilities) are in the process of being merger into one entity under the auspicious of the Canton Parks and Recreation Commission (CPRC).
But there is a hitch.
Voters in November, 2015 rejected combining the two levies into one levy and therefore beginning on January 1, 2017, the CPRC will have to stretch what dollars they normally would spend in 2016 (again, about $3 million) over at least 2016 and 2017 UNLESS voters pass the replacement levy either in the primary election on March 15th or in the 2016 presidential year general election.
The deep thinkers of the CPRC think that the ballot language as required under Ohio election law which is of course administered locally by the Stark County Board of Elections made November, 2015 voters think that there was going to be a 1 mill increases in their taxes as a consequence of the "in the works" merger.
But that is not the case.
The current levies (Canton Parks Commission - 4 mills; CJRD 1 mill) are merely being combined and officials of the Issue 5 campaign emphatically say that there is no increase in taxes being collected for Canton's parks and recreation facilities.
The SCPR agrees with the parks and recreation campaign officials who say that voter confusion was a key factor in the November, 2015 defeat of the levy.
However, The Report thinks (LINK to February 1, 2016 blog) that the wrangling and turf fighting going on as members of the CJRD (mainly one Eric Resnick [now a CCS board member]) fought the merger and the resulting efficiencies that yours truly thinks the merger is going to bring.
One official tells the SCPR that Resnick continues to bash the merging parks and recreation process.
THE SCPR "BERNABEI INTERVIEW" VIDEO
The Report thinks that readers of this blog will find this interview with newly elected Canton Mayor fascinating.
He talks about:
- the surprise that the Canton budget deficit that during his campaign to unseat incumbent Democratic mayor William J. Healy, II he project to be $3 million has turned out in reality to be more like $5.1 million,
- how he plans to deal with covering the deficit,
- the likelihood that should Issue 5 fail to get passed in 2016 that Canton will not be providing any general fund money to the city's parks and recreation function,
- the importance of "green space" (the SCPR's term; not Bernabei's) to
- future economic development,
- the Hall of Fame Village project, and
- the quality of the campaign being put on to gain passage of Issue 5,