Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Probably the most consequential thing at last night Jackson Township trustees meeting was the news disseminated by Fiscal Officer Randy Gonzalez that the financial integrity of Jackson eight parks spread over 350 acres could be at risk if the Ohio Legislature votes to eliminate Ohio's estate tax.

Gonzalez (see video below) says that Jackson averages about $1 million annually from the tax.  Moreover, he says he budgets $500,000 annually.  So if the Legislature acts to eliminate the tax, for fiscal year 2011 Jackson Township has a $500,000 shortfall because the bill in its present form is retroactive to January 1, 2011.

Interesting enough, the trustees (Burger, Pizzino and Walters) uttered "not a word."  The SCPR has reason to believe that they support the elimination of the tax and therefore in conjunction with appears to be a pro-elimination sentiment by Jackson's state representative (Republican Kirk Schuring) are putting the financial health of Jackson's park system at risk.

Although Schuring has not publicly stated he supports the elimination of the estate tax, The Report believes that is exactly where he will land when a vote is taken.  Schuring has bucked the Columbus-based Republican establishment only once in his career (in the Senate) and was punished for doing so.  It is hard to believe he is going down that road again.

And make no mistake about it, eliminating the estate tax is one of the Republican "holy grail" issues in the 129th Ohio General Assembly.

The SCPR tried to ask Burger, Pizzino and Walters about their positions (face-to-face); however, they brushed off the attempt in their quest to get to their third executive session of the evening (two occurred in the 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM and then the third at the end of the regular trustee meeting).

The Report followed up the attempted face-to-face with e-mails but none of the trustees have responded as of the publication of this blog.  If any of them do, The Report will post them as an update.

Last night's session was the SCPR's first live visit to the Jackson trustees and it appears that they all are very good at glad handing.  A new fire chief was appointed and the trustees were besides themselves in joy and excitement.  But they seem to lose their enthusiasm when someone like the SCPR approaches them with some penetrating questions.

The same cannot be said for Fiscal Officer Gonzalez.  Readers of SCPR know that over the three years that yours truly has written the blog, Gonzalez has be the subject of quite of bit of criticism in his various roles (mostly political) in Stark County politics and government.  He appears to be much more mature in the respect than most Stark County politicians/government officials.

The Report believes Gonzalez when he expresses concern over the financial viability of Jackson's excellent park complex?

Apparently, the trustees and state Representative Schuring are not?

Here is a video showing Representative Schuring and Fiscal Officer Gonzalez speaking to the estate tax elimination matter.

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