Friday, June 16, 2017

"THE 'IN-ART' OF THE DEAL" AT PLAY IN NORTH CANTON, OHIO?

UPDATED AT 11:00 AM

INSTALLMENT #3





VIDEOS

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NCCS SUPT WENDORF SPEAKING TO THE ISSUE OF "ABATEMENT"

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NCCS SUPT WENDORF ENGAGES COUNCILMAN GRIFFING

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NCCS SUPT WENDORF ENGAGES COUNCILWOMAN KIESLING

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NCCS SUPT WENDORF ENGAGES COUNCILWOMAN WERREN

"You know, I know, everybody knows" that President Donald J. Trump is the greatest deal maker in all of human history.  If you don't believe me, just ask him.  He will confirm what is already obvious to all of us Americans.

Unfortunately, he is so preoccupied these days politically surviving as president of our great nation that he is not available to North Canton government to assist the administration and council in working his wiles as explained in his book The Art of the Deal to get every stakeholder on board as North Canton government endeavors to strike a deal between itself, the North Canton City Schools and North Ridge Place, LLC and four North Canton citizen activists (i.e. the stakeholders) to solve a tax abatement controversy that has flowered out of a Community Reinvestment Area decision by the city in 2012.

A controversy because a core group of  North Canton civic activist are challenging a grant in the year 2012 100% real property tax abatement over 12 years to North Ridge Place, LLC for an apartment complex the limited liability company has constructed on the locale of a former mobile home park.

The contestants allege that the abatement was illegal because:
  • it is framed as a "new" residential abatement for a property that is in a zoned "commercial" part of North Canton, and that
  • the North Canton City Schools (NCCS), when an commercial property abatement exceeds 50%, must be part of the abatement process, which it was not
Yesterday's blog in the words of schools treasurer Todd Tolson set forth the actual/potential detriment the 2012 abatement action has for NCCS, to wit:


Today's blog focuses various parts of video taped presentation by NCCS superintendent Jeff Wendorf on the abatement to North Canton City Council on September 26, 2016.

First, Wendorf's prepared remarks.



Next, Wendorf's  exchange with Councilman Dan Griffith (at large).



Next, Wendorf's dialogue with Councilwoman Marcia Kiesling (at large).



And last, Wendorf's interaction with Councilwoman Stephanie Werren (Ward 3).



It is clear to The Stark County Political Report that Wendorf unequivocally states and restates that North Canton City Schools want and need every available tax dollars that North Cantonians have voted for over the years with "buts, ifs, ands about it."

Seventy percent of all property tax dollars go to the NCCS whereas 12% goes to North Canton government.

Of course, the schools want economic development going forward for North Canton even though there is no direct financial connection on the city doing well with enhanced income tax collections and the schools which rely exclusively on real property taxes for revenues.

Amen!!! Economic development for North Canton, indeed!  But on the city's tax revenue dime; not the schools'.

In the estimate of the SCPR it was comical if not farcical for Councilman Griffith to be asking Wendorf how city was going to do economic development if not at the expense of the schools through tax abatements.

Wendorf was exceedingly respectful in outlining ancillary ways that the schools raise outside-of-tax-dollars revenues.

While "holding bake sales" was not one of Wendorf's examples; some of the items on the list were not that far off "a bake sale" standard for generating additional revenues for the schools.

I can see it now:  Buy Your Pastry Holiday Needs at North Canton City Hall in the weeks leading up to Christmas next December.

The tag-team of Councilpersons Marcia Kiesling and Stephanie Werren showed they really do not understand the difference of the dynamics of how schools are financed as contrasted with city government.

The "short-term" versus the "long-term" strategic economic planning motif that Kiesling and Werren went on and on about, sound a bit like national economist Arthur Laffer's "trickle down-supply side" theory of economic development.

Oh yes! Kiesling and Werren (the rock-ribbed Republicans I think they are), the NCCS are excited about giving up "real" tax dollar revenues for some speculative philosophical "pie-in-the-sky" that might or might not add to the North Canton city treasury via income tax, which, of course, will not benefit the North Canton schools even if abatements generate companies locating in/expanding in North Canton which eventually translates into increase income tax revenues.

Some people naively think that national political party philosophy does not filter down to local levels of government.

The national Republican Party political agenda item is to cut taxation to the bare bones (see recent Kansas debacle on an extremist application of "trickle down" public policy) and thereby "grow" your way to increased revenues on the theory that benefitting companies/entrepreneurs will take the tax savings and generate new lines of business or expanded existing lines of business which will replace rollbacks in taxation.

While the North Canton tax abatement is not a "tax-cut" in the strict sense of the expression, it is a 50% tax-cut for the benefit of a single LLC over 12 years for North Canton schools and should be seen as such.

The state of Ohio Republican Party controls a supermajority of the Ohio General Assembly and, of course, the governorship and has for quite a few years and hence we get laws like those directly relevant to the North Canton situation in which local tax dollars intended by voters to be primarily for financing local education being re-directed to economic development.

This is an example of a state political party overall point of view becoming the law of Ohio.

A politics driven economics philosophy has been encoded in the law of Ohio even to the point of overriding the intention of the votes of rank-and-file citizens who had in voting for school initiated levy issues a "direct" intention to support schools.

Names to put with this subversion of the democratic will of local citizens:  Schuring (R, the 48th House District), Oelslager (R, the 29th Senate District) and Hagan (R, the 50th House District).

Are these folks small letter "d" democrats?

One has to wonder, no?

To balance things out (the SCPR being "an equal opportunity critic;" a national Democratic Party political agenda is the drive for an increase in the national minimum wage to $15 per hour.

North Canton government (the mayor and council) number six Republicans and only one Democrat.

Canton government (council) numbers 13 (including Allen Schulman as president of council) are ALL Democrats.

So with North Canton, one gets "trickle down economics" whereas with Canton you get sentiment for legislating at the local level for an increased minimum wage if rock-ribbed left-wing Democrat John Mariol has his way.

There are similar political party aligned philosophical analogies to be made on other practice/policy matters that course through government vertically from national down through the state to local government.

Make no mistake about it.

Accordingly, it is naive to accept the mostly mythology that partisan political points of view do not find their way into local government policy and practice.

I understand the need to have political parties to make the American system of government work.

But when partisan political party doctrines short-circuit the thinking process so that it becomes obvious that "the public good" takes a backseat to a perceived "political party good," a line is crossed which make partisan political party devotion highly damaging to the continued viability of the American system of government.

And there is more ridiculousness from Kiesling and Werren (and even Councilman Foltz (Ward 1) jumped in on this one):  (paraphrase)  "but we got rid of that mobile home park."

It is highly debatable whether or not the income tax based revenues for the  North Canton city treasury outweighs the costs of city services to concentrated apartment residents who in significant numbers do not work in North Canton and therefore contribute little to nothing to city finances.

It seems to the SCPR that most of North Canton council members do not understand Taxation 101 and consequently are well on their way to long-term (to use the Kiesling/Werren expression) drive North Canton into fiscal emergency.

In one exchange between the council members and Superintendent Wendorf, he opined that perhaps he needed to education them on "inside millage" as being the only way schools could increase their revenues without a vote by the people.

I think Wendorf should save himself the effort, nobody on North Canton council seems to me to have the mental sophistication to understand the Byzantine inside millage formula.

The days of The Hoover Company providing North Canton with more money than the city needed to finance city government are long over.  Nearly ten years now.  Kiesling has been on council for double that period of time and apparently has not learned the fundamentals of proven ways to sure up North Canton finances.

If she thinks the North Ridge Place, LLC abatement is a model for North Canton getting a handle on financial viability and if she is representative of the rest of the members of council, I'd say that North Canton as a matter of "long-term" financial planning is in "deep, deep doo-doo."

And, oh yes! while we (i.e. council) is at it; the effect of the 100% alleged to be illegal abatement is tantamount to "let's put the excellent North Canton City Schools in financial jeopardy."

That folks, is an expression of partisan political philosophy being implemented at the local level which damages our most important knowledge/thinking power resource infrastructure; namely, our public school system.

A healthy political party import is one where there is a competition of ideas debated in public forums and the results of which express a well-rounded buy-in to policy/practice legislation; not a doctrinaire political party point-of-view rammed down the throats of us all by supermajority political party zealots.

If and when we lose our democracy it is not likely to be at the hand of a military coup-d'etat but by a steady erosion of public confidence in our ability to be informed, respected, heard and included in the decision making at local levels of government.

As I see it, North Canton government is a contemporary kaleidoscope of the undermining of our democratic-republican system of government happening right before our Stark County eyes.

The real heros of this flap in North Canton are the likes of Daryl Revoldt (former mayor, councilman and president of council), Miriam Baughman, Melanie Roll and Chuck Osborne.


But for above-pictured locking on to the tax abatement debacle of 2012, North Canton schools would have, under the original abatement, lost tens of thousands of sorely needed tax dollar revenues.

These folks are not beholden to a political party point of view, but to what is for the public good.

I am told that Baughman, Roll and Osborne are in this fight for the "long-term."  Revoldt may or may not be.

These folks apparently are not into "let's make a deal" put together by "in-artful" council/mayor deal makers in that they failed to provide "checks and balances" on a bad deal for the NCCS.

Why?

Because they believe the original deal was illegal and that therefore North Canton schools should have all the dollars less those already abated to North Ridge Place, LLC.

The unremunerated consistent, persistent, skillful work ethic of the civic minded Baughman, Roll and Osborne far surpases the current crop of taxpayer paid councilpersons serving on North Canton council.

What a sad state of affairs, no?

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