Monday, January 7, 2013



Last Thursday the Stark County commissioners started the 2013 budget process.

In November, 2011, the commissioners convinced Stark County voters that they had righted the "county ship-of-state" and that they could be trusted to manage a 0.5% increase in the county sales tax.

In 2012 only part of the full increase in revenue (about $22 million per year) was realized by the commissioners inasmuch as collections did not begin until well into the 2012 tax collection cycle.

So 2013 will be the real test as to whether or not trust in the commissioners by the voter is well-founded.

Already, they are being put to the test by guess who?

You've got it.  None other than Stark County Prosecutor John Dee Ferrero!

Ferrero was one of those (whom, by the way, the SCPR agreed with) who advocated, during the decision making process as to what the 2011 levy rate should be, that it be a full 1%.  Joining in with Ferrero was Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson and his then-chief deputy MIke McDonald.

But the commissioners did not agree with them and the issue (#29) was put on for 0.5%.

In the playout since the passage of the levy and the partial pay out in 2012, Swanson was restored in full to his 2010 budget (2012 being the last budget year that the 2008 imposed 0.5 sales tax [Bosley, Harmon and Vignos) was colleted for.

Ferrero was cut and he has complained ever since.

Last budgeting cycle he suggested to commissioners that their failure to give his office (also a criminal justice department of county government [budgeting restoration of which was the primary justification for the levy] might result in his asking Stark County common pleas judges to appoint counsel for the prosecution of cases which would result in no savings to the county.  In fact, if Ferrero followed through with his suggestion, the county could actually have been worse off financially than it would have been had it also restored Ferrero's office to the 2010 level.

For 2013, Ferrero is requesting $3,632,140.60 compared to an actual 2010 "actual received appropriation" of $3,416,976.79.

Now he is back, more or less "demanding" to be restored to his 2010 budget so that he can rehire 14 laid off/attrited employees.  (the following are extracted from data sheet provided by Ferrero's office)

So that is where the SCPR thinks it comes out that Ferrero has reluctantly been a "team player" in the past and is showing that if he has his way he will not be a "team player" in 2012.

The question is whether or not the commissioners will hold their ground with Ferrrero?

The SCPR thinks they will.

Here is what Stark County Commissioner Tom Bernabei had to say about the 2013 budgeting process when asked by The Report last Friday:

One cannot blame Ferrero for trying, but the message that he is sending to his fellow Stark County department heads is clearly one of two things:
  • the prosecutor's office is more important that other county offices, or
  • that he is not a team player
Nevertheless, the SCPR is confident that the commissioners will have the last say.

The Report sees the commissioners as being determined to make all but the sheriff's department share in the sacrifices to be made if they are to squeeze monies out of total revenues for such things as infrastructure repair (e.g. Stark County ditches, the fairgrounds, et cetera), economic development and funding a "rainy day" fund.

The next several weeks of budget hearings and deliberations will tell the day as whether or not they are going to be successful.

Here is a listing of the commissioners' budget hearings

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