Wednesday, March 13, 2013


UPDATE:  09:35 a.m. 03/14/2013

It has been brought to the attention of the SCPR that there is a second phase of the combining of the operations of the Canton/Stark County to be studied before it is ready to be discussed by anyone including the Stark County commissioners as a work session as proposed by former Commissioner Pete Ferguson.

When Phase II has been completed, sitting commissioner Thomas Bernabei (board president) indicates to The Report that the commissions are amenable to holding the work session that Ferguson called for Tuesday night in his interview with yours truly.

Here is a discussion for the necessity of a Phase II next step from the report itself:  (a LINK to the report)

Phase Two Analysis

More analysis is clearly needed in a second phase before a combination of the Canton City Department and the Stark County Health Department is undertaken. However, it does appear 12that the upside to such a combination would outweigh the negatives provided existing financial
arrangements with their respective political subdivisions are not significantly changed. The following items should be studied on a comparative basis, if the Stark County Public Study

Commission proceeds to a Phase Two analysis:

• Job descriptions, salary levels, and benefits;
• Conversion of technological systems;
• Facility arrangement;
• Designing approaches to engaging staffs, especially to manage the          significant cultural change in serving different populations; and
• Proposed timelines.

For example, an examination of job descriptions would be informative in determining whether personnel are serving functions that are either complementary and additive or duplicative and redundant. An examination of benefits would inform what needs to be reconciled in this sphere.

In addition, issues impacting governance of the combined district and maintenance or changes to existing financial arrangements would need to be considered.




Former Stark County Commissioner Pete Ferguson has been out of office only some 72 days, but he is hardly to be forgotten.

Since the first of the year the SCPR has seen Ferguson at three public meetings the last of which was at Plain Township Hall last evening.

Such indicates to The Report that Ferguson's word that in the wake of his stepping down from office he would still be involved as an active citizen.

Ferguson had two areas of focus as commissioner.

He was big on working to provide services to veterans and he pounced on every opportunity to take local government services which are being duplicated (at taxpayer expense) among and between county, city, village and township governments and working for ways to collaborate and/or consolidate them.

One such issue for him was to promote the merger of health department services to Stark Countians which is currently split between Canton, Stark County, Alliance and Massillon.

In light of the recent publication of a year long study by the Stark County Public Health Commissioner (an eight member body) showing promise that the numbers (going back three years of crunching the numbers on the operations of the Canton Health Department and the Stark County Health Department) indicate that merging the two departments would bring both a a tax saving benefit and end user convenience, the SCPR asked Doctor Ferguson (a long time Stark County chiropractor) for his reaction.

In last night's videotaped interview (see below), Ferguson says he was delighted to see the outcome of the survey and that he believes the next step is for the Stark County commissioners to follow up with calling a work session to bring all interested parties to the table to discuss ways and means to effect a merger.

The numbers may make sense and the taxpayers may well save money and users of local government health services may find obtaining services is much more convenient BUT can the entrenched interests on the long standing turf war between the Stark County/Canton departments be dislodged?

The SCPR has to believe that the overriding issue is whether or not Canton interests are able to attain control of a newly merged department?

If the answer is yes, then a merger is likely to happen.

If the answer is no, then it appears that the recent study plus a outdated study will have been for naught.

Of course there is an alternative answer, no?  How about shared control?

For shared control to be a realistic alternative, the Report believes that Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II and his obsessive drive to power will have to be reigned in by political pressure brought to bear by the Stark County local government establishment.

While the SCPR supports Doctor Ferguson's call for a Stark County commissioner work session, the elephant in the room that is not likely to come up is the issue of Canton's historical insistence to be in charge at the end of the day.

But from what yours truly hears is that there are forces within the Stark County Health Department who are just as adamant as Healy.  However, with the appointment of a new health director, The Report is lead to believe that such is not the big contributing barrier to merger that it once was.

The SCPR joins Ferguson is lauding the Sisters of Charity Foundation for providing the funding for the study.

Now it is up to the the commissioners, Canton City officials, and, yes, to the continued involvement of Doctor Peter Ferguson and other Stark Countians who care about government efficiencies and effectiveness to nudge this process along.

By his continued involvement, indeed, former Commissioner Ferguson may be gone, but he is not about to let us forget him.

A SCPR "tip o' the hat" to private citizen Doctor Peter Ferguson!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think the idea of combining health departments within SC is a good idea and one that is fiscally responsible. However, I would not encourage it to be done as long as Mayor Healy is in office. He's power hungry and not a wise individual.