Tuesday, October 3, 2017




Who believes that the facts are not known about North Canton schools' (NCCS) need for additional funding in order to keep the system among the very best among Stark County's 17 school districts?

The Stark County Political Report (SCPR) says "nobody" including North Canton councilman Mark Cerreta despite his protestations to the contrary.

Even at the local level of government, it is truly amazing how adept elected officials can be at diverting public attention away from the failures of themselves onto something that seems to have authenticity but in reality does not.

Such is what the SCPR thinks Councilman Cerreta (North Canton Republican councilman-at-large) has been up to of late in trying to mask the failure of North Canton City Council to properly prioritize what should be important to North Cantonians in not including the NCCS in consideration of whether or not to abate 70% to the schools' future property taxes.

At a recent meeting of council Cerreta called for North Canton superintendent of schools Jeff Wendorf to present himself at council to tell them the facts of why North Canton schools' need more revenue as a justification for placing on the November general election ballot a 3.99 bond issue and a 0.75% income tax on "earned" income.

Well, Wendorf did present himself at last night's meeting.

And he engaged Cerreta's seeming insincerity in presenting reasons why North Canton schools' need more money, to wit:

  • renovate North Canton Hoover High School,
  • build a new middle school,
  • consolidate a couple of elementary schools,
  • building up of an "improvement" fund, and
  • expected increases in the cost of operations
Of course, it is always helpful for the voting public to know as specifically as they can what they are getting if they vote to approve bond/tax issues.

Wendorf turned what could have been an ugly confrontation into a positive in using the Cerreta/council provided forum into a campaign-esque rally in from a "standing room only" crowd.

What apparently was not discussed at the meeting was council's culpability in North Canton government agreeing several years ago to a gigantic tax abatement to a local developer (North Canton Ridge Place, LLC) without input from the schools.

See the SCPR's October, 2016 video in which NCCS superintendent Wendorf (after the fact, Councilman Cerreta) weighs-in on the abatement and its effect on North Canton's schools.

Only after a number of North Canton civic activists detected the abatement, did the matter come to public attention and council was forced by North Canton public pressure to broker a deal in which the schools recovered 50% of the lost revenues to schools on account of the abatement.

Perhaps, if NCCS had been invited to participate in the abatement request consideration, the schools would have been persuasive that the abatement granted be at a lesser cost to the schools or maybe just maybe not at all because of the great need of the schools to have every dollars available for project future needs.

A challenge to those processes that resulted in the abatement is to be heard tonight at North Canton City Hall council chambers.

Note:  A source says Baughman as dropped her appeal.

Moreover, the SCPR thinks that there is another factor in play in Cerreta (presumably with "cheering on" from his fellow council members) disingenuous/diversionary presentation of "the facts, we want the facts" seeming facade was and continues to be a realization on council's part that North Canton City government itself will need to increase its 1.5% city income tax.

North Canton government has been fairly effective at cutting its costs but now it appears that basic services to the public might be in jeopardy unless more revenue is  in the offing soon.

So it is seems likely that there is a sub rosa fight going on between those who think that North Canton schools and it generating high quality human capital are the proper priority for North Canton's future as a viable community over and above tax abatements which undermine NCCS financial health.

The real message the SCPR thinks in Cerreta's "the facts, we want the facts" diversion is code to North Canton voters that many if not all of North Canton elected officials want them to vote down the school bond/tax issue (Issue 44) in soon upcoming November general election.

The SCPR thinks that Cerreta and his fellow North Canton elected/appointed officials know the facts and he is disingenuously using a "be an informed voter" ruse to mask the failure of North Canton government to protect the schools' tax base.

The real choice for voters in the upcoming election is meeting the financial needs of the schools over the financial needs of North Canton city government.

In an unwitting way, Councilman Cerreta has provided a framework to North Canton's voters of having to vote their respective priorities.

Had North Canton government handled the abatement issue transparently and coupled with effective oversight with all the players at the table, North Canton voters would not face the dilemma of having to decide which priority is their priority:  North Canton's school financial viability going forward, or North Canton government's financial viability going forward.

Shame on North Canton government for putting its citizens into a mode of having to make a choice between two highly important factors in North Canton's future viability!


Note:  The SCPR uses the word "nobody" to make a point of what the The Report thinks is Cerreta's gamesmanship in having postured on "the facts, mam; the facts and only the facts approach."

The SCPR is fully aware perhaps more than most that whether it is an issue or the quality of a given candidate, the fact of the matter is that many if not most American voters do not have a clue let alone in depth knowledge about any given issue/candidate on our their respective ballots.

One of the most knowledgeable people on the intricacies on North Canton's Issue 44 is one Holly Pierpont.  

This morning (October 4th) she wrote the SCPR disagreeing with the SCPR on North Cantonians having "all the facts" about Issue.  SEE HER FULL E-MAIL TO THE SCPR AT THE END OF THIS BLOG.

The Report assures Ms. Pierpont that this blogger thinks that Americans/Ohioans/Stark Countians and, indeed North Cantonians are, in general, woefully short of the mark of being fully informed voters.

Were Mr. Cerreta truly interested in bringing out all the facts, he would have invited Ms. Pierpont along with school officials to make their presentations.

The SCPR sticks with the point of view that Cerreta was demagoguing on the matter on Monday evening in order to obscure North Canton City Council's failure to protect school funding on the North Ridge Place, LLC abatement process.

The SCPR thanks Ms. Pierpont for making her specific point on the ignorance of North Canton voters on the issue and her providing evidentiary points that school officials are not getting "all" relevant information out to voters.

In a way, Pierpont's argument and the SCPR's are the same.  Had Cerreta done an effective job of digging out another view of the facts as supplied by Ms. Pierpont, then The Report's assigning him "disingenuousness" would have been a blog inscribed with "atta boy."  

But he didn't and therefore the SCPR stands by the original blog but wants  blog readers to consider Ms. Pierpont's perspective on how the North Canton City Schools Board of Education and administration are not telling the full story.

Holly Pierpont  Today at 7:41 AM
To:  tramols@att.net


I have to respectfully disagree that North Canton City Schools voters “know the facts” about Issue 44.  Set aside the legitimate concerns regarding the tax abatement and the relationship between the district and the city, all it takes is a conversation with the average voter to understand many don’t think they will have to pay it.  Many believe they will receive credit for it if they pay income taxes to other municipalities.  And many aren’t aware they will have two taxes wrapped up in their one vote.  

The district advertises on their levy committee website “that the Income Tax would be deductible from the Federal Income tax return...the wage earner would most likely fall in the 28% tax bracket, thus lowering the effective rate from 0.75% to 0.54%.”  This is suggesting tax payers can just itemize away the SDIT, yet no mention that you must meet the federal threshold to surpass a standard deduction to do so, and the majority won’t qualify.  Have a conversation with the average voter and many don’t know where they live and how this tax will affect them.  

The district contends that Northwest Schools has a SDIT, so apparently we should do the same, but they don’t tell voters the the SDIT at Northwest is not permanent like the one included in Issue 44, and theirs expires in 2020, allowing the voters a re-look at their financial needs.  They tell voters that 190 school districts in Ohio have a SDIT, but the majority of them also expire.  There are 611 districts in Ohio. 69% of them do not have a SDIT.  

I’ve spoken out against CRA’s as well as the most recent mistakes made with the North Ridge property, both at the school board and city council, as it relates to the district accepting a 50% settlement on the taxes they are owed and not legally pursuing it before voting to place an income tax on the ballot.  There’s no denying one relates to the other.

Those who oppose Issue 44 do not deny that our buildings need attention, and many support the plan to build.  As a member of the steering committee who assisted in coming to a decision on a plan, I want what’s best for our district, which includes my own children.  But to suggest 500 community members came together and the culmination of their meetings resulted in this financial plan is misleading. Talk to those who oppose Issue 44, what they want is a different financial plan.  They aren’t opposed to giving our teachers, students and staff a better environment.

Lastly, the “standing room only” at the meeting was 75-80%  all Issue 44 levy committee members, school board members and NCCS administration.  Unless the general public watched the video stream on YouTube (not likely), I would suggest that most are still not educated on what their one vote will buy them on November 7th.  But I can appreciate what Cerreta and council tried to do, and that’s bring out the facts about Issue 44.  

Have a great day,

Holly Pierpont

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