Thursday, August 2, 2018





Everything the Voting Public Needs to Know
SCPR Videos
in Order to Cast an "Informed" Vote 
for the upcoming 
November 6, 2018 Election

Tax levies are difficult to pass on a vote of the people nearly everywhere in America.

But with skilled leadership at the helm of government, especially local government, levies can be passed.

The easiest ones to pass are those for a term of years.  More difficult are those that are termed "continuing" levies whereby the word "continuing" means unending unless abandoned for a replacement levy.

On July 18, 2018, representatives of the Stark County District Library (SCDL) presented themselves at the regular weekly meeting of The Board of  Stark County Commissioners which meet nearly every Wednesday beginning at 1:30 p.m. in the commissioners' board meeting room located on the second floor of the Stark County Office Building.

The mission?

To get the commissioners to place on the November 6, 2018 ballot a "continuing" property tax issue of 2.2 mills to replace the current 1.7 mills in order to get the heads up on future needs of the SCDL which includes 10 library facilities as well as it mobile services and media services.

What is not included in the levy request are funds to build a new Jackson branch of the SCDL.

Also, there have been rumors floating around town to the effect that library officials plan on replacing if not removing the Main branch from it present locale (715 Market Avenue, North, built in 1978).

Here is a SCPR video clip (3 min, 49 sec) in which library officials:
  • making the point that the new Jackson branch is on schedule to be replaced in an about 18 month timeframe, and
  • dispelling rumors that the Main branch current location is in jeopardy

Board of Commissioners president Janet Creighton's reaction (1 min, 4 sec) to the SCDL entreaty of July 18th:

Indeed, Commissioner Creighton along with current fellow commissioners Richard Regula and Bill Smith voted on July 18th to place the SCDL measure on the November 6, 2018 citing that their approval was pro forma and that they had no authority to reject the request.  Moreover, Jean Duncan McFarren until a new director was hired and started work in mid-July is seen in this video (2 min, 20 sec) making a vigorous argument why the SCDL Board of Trustees decided to ask that the issue being continuing.

After the commissioners' July 18, 2018 approval, an ad hoc press conference ensued outside the meeting room.  The video of the conference can be seen in the Appendix to this blog which is located at the end of the blog.

The following week word came down that the SCDL board of trustees had heard Commissioner Creighton and that they would be back in yesterday to asking for a recission of the July 18th resolution to be replaced with new language making the tax for a term of 8 years.

And in they were.

Here is the entire exchange between SCDL Board of Trustees president Steven Pitman, board member and spokesperson for the board Edmond Mack and CEO/Executive Director Mary Ellen Icazo and Commissioners Creighton and Bill Smith.  Commissioner Richard Regula was absent from the meeting.

After yesterday's meeting there was a back and forth between media present and Commissioner Creighton and Smith regarding the tortured history that countywide tax issues (sales and license plate fees) have had gaining Stark County voter approval.

While there has been some success with "continuing" tax issues (e.g. the recent City of Canton income tax increase), by and large there has been a lot of resistance to "any" tax increase, let alone continuing ones.

Here is a LINK to a SCPR  blog of May 2, 2017 which is a thoroughgoing SCPR review of that history.

Readers who want to understand where Commissioner Creighton was coming from in doing her "bully pulpit" thing with the SCDL vis-a-vis a likely failure of a "continuing" 2.2 mill levy replacing the current 1.7, should take a few minutes to read the May 2nd blog.

On August 7th, there will be a test of Creighton's theory with the vote in participating school districts (14 of the 17 Stark County districts included but not CCS, Canton Local and Perry) of a 1.49 mill "continuing" levy (Issue #1) submitted under the authority of the Stark County Educational Service Center (SCESC, this blogger's wife is a member of that body).  Links to Issue #1 blogs:  LINK 1 and LINK 2.

Note:  Voting yes on the 1.49 mill levy as a "continuing" levy:  Olson, Holmes and Morgan.  Fran Miller voted "no."  Gene Feucht was absent.

In May of this year, former Stark County commissioner Thomas M. Bernabei (now the politically "independent" mayor of Canton [a post that Commissioner Creighton held from January 1, 2004 through December 31, 2007] personally shepherded to a city of Canton income tax increase passage.

The SCDL heeding the commissioners' warning and acceding to a change of heart may have saved the Stark County 10 branch system from a financial disaster within a few years.

Here is SCDL president Steven Pitman  (2 min, 22 sec) of the Board of Trustees introducing the library's presentation.  His two main points:
  • the SCDL's loss of 20% of its State of Ohio funding over recent years, and
  • the SCDL's hearing of the commissioners on the "continuing" versus "for a term of years" issue on the duration of the 2.2 mill levy

Here is Edmond Mack on video (13 min, 04 sec).  His main points were:
  • though the SCDL had done its due diligence research on the matter of "continuing" versus "for a term of years," the SCDL has heard the commissioners preference for "accountability" which is provided for in the SCDL opting for an 8 year term at the end of which any new/renewal thereof will require a vote of the people,
  • the SCDL does have a plan which he outlines in some detail in his presentation.

However, it was former Canton City councilman Edmond Mack who made the main body of yesterday's presentation.  It is a touch ironic (i.e. the "continuing" - "for a term of years" debate) that Edmond Mack was still Canton's 8th Ward councilperson as of May 2nd, no?

In the following video: (7 min, 18 sec)
  • SCDL CEO/Executive Director Mary Ellen Icaza (hired June 25, 2018 with first work date being July 16, 2018) (LINK to biography),
  • the commissioners approve resolutions withdrawing the "continuing" levy and instituting an "eight year term" levy with comments by Commissioners Creighton and Smith (Commissioners Regula was not present at the meeting)


1.  In its entirety, the July 18, 2018 SCDL presentation, the commissioners' response and the passage of the resolution.  (20 min, 24 sec)

2.  In its entirety, the July 18th ad hoc press  conference following the July 18th meeting in which questions were posed regarding specific plans for the use of increased monies if the 2.2 mills request were to pass. (20 min, 37 sec)

3.  In its entirety, the August 1, 2018 exchange between SCDL officials and Commissioners Creighton and Smith.  (23 min, 14 sec)

4.  In its entirety, a SCPR interview with Spokesperson Edmond Mack, SCDL president Steven Pitman and CEO/Executive Director Mary Ellen Icaza. (8 min, 44 sec)

5.  The members of the SCDL Board of Trustees (LINK to short biographies)

6.  LINK to biography of Mary Ellen Icazo, the SCDL CEO/executive director.

7.  PDF FILE of underlying documents supporting placement of 8 year 2.2 mill levy and rescission of "continuous" levy.

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