Tuesday, June 21, 2011



With his support of Ohio Senate Bill 5 (SB 5), Republican Governor John Kasich trying to save Ohio taxpayers millions of dollars in pension costs by prohibiting local governments from picking up the employees pension contribution rates after July 1, 2011.

Thanks, BUT NO THANKS!!!  That's what Canton's councilpersons and the Healy administration says.  And that includes Republican Councilman Mark Butterworth who told the SCPR last night that he opposes SB 5.

Recently, Canton decided to do an end-run around the Kasich administration by doing a PERS conversion whereby the city increased management and AFSCME service workers 7.26% to offset the employees paying the entire 10% employee pension contribution that city officials anticipated would go into effect with SB 5.

Gary Young (Canton's auditor's office) tells The Report that, in the case of the pre-2003 management employees the conversion (had it not been done) has an "opportunity to save cost" of approximately $500,000.  Young used an average salary of $57,000 for 110 employees in arriving at the estimate.  He is currently working on refining the data to "actual data," but the work is not complete as of the date of this blog.

Young also estimated that the "opportunity to save" cost for AFSCME service employees to be about  $1 million.  To estimate this figure, Young took this group's total payroll number and multiplied it by the 7.26%.

Young took no position on whether or not the conversions should have been done.  His only role for purposes of this blog was to provide the data cited above.

It could be that it turns out that there is no lost opportunity because SB 5 gets put on the November, 2011 ballot and is defeated by Ohio's voters.  And The Report believes that such is very likely to happen.  But one never knows in the world of politics.

Pay issues are a sore point in Canton City Council (Council) these days.  Last night there was a long and protracted debate in the pre-Council-meeting Finance Committee meeting (Ward One Councilman Greg Hawk, chair).  Be sure to view the video at the end of this blog to get a flavor of the debate.

The approved raises (3.3%) are said by Canton Finance Director Joe DiRuzza to cost Canton up to $198,000 ($91,000 of which for management/administrative employees, $107,000 for enterprise fund employees).

DiRuzza told yours truly that those numbers presumes that everybody (management/administrative) will be getting the 3.3% raise.

City officials (especially Mayor Healy) like to trot out the "enterprise fund" answer as sort of a "perfect squelch" to any criticism because the given expenditure does not come out of the general fund directly paid for by taxpayers.  However, the truth of the matter is that as enterprise department expenses increase (e.g. water, sewer et cetera); rates go up.  So the fact of the matter is that enterprise fund expense increases do cost Cantonians.

Of course, the sticking point with opponents to the 3.3% raise (Cirelli and Smuckler) is that the money needed to be spent on additional firemen and policemen.  

Last night a citizen who is involved in a Canton neighborhood association appeared before council and complained about Canton's policing.  Another complained about deficient city ambulance service.

Here is a video (Finance Committee meeting) which is indicative of the debate on the pay increases.

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