Thursday, December 01, 2005

Reduced Road Construction Costs Should Be Returned To Taxpayers, Not Split With Contractor

Prepared Comments Made to
November 28, 2005

Last Monday night, November 21, 2005, I sat in this chamber as a spectator to observe the actions of the North Canton City Council. As you all know, this body is charged with ensuring that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.

As a citizen and taxpayer of this city, I observed that this council and the administration apparently feel that the funds supporting expenditures authorized by this body represent little more than Monopoly money instead of taxpayer dollars.

In last week’s Council of the Whole meeting, City Administrator Michael Miller provided the details regarding the purpose of Ordinance 213-05 which “…authorizes the city to enter into an amended agreement (change order), in the amount of a reduction of $100,000 for the South Main Street/Everhard Road Project.”

Mr. Miller explained that the contractor had found a “better way” to construct a retaining wall that was to be built in the course of the bridge and roadway project and that this “better way” had resulted in a reduction in construction costs on the project of $200,000. Mr. Miller continued with his explanation by saying that the savings on the project would be split with the contractor!

My first question as I sat in the audience was why split the reduction in the cost of the project with the contractor? Furthermore, I was dismayed that not one council member had the same question!

I have learned that the details behind the savings come from the fact that the contractor has proposed building a retaining wall in a less conservative manner than specified in the original engineering design. More specifically, the contractor is now being allowed to reduce the depth of the retaining wall by five feet.

The engineering design firm for the project was CT Consultants. Did CT Consultants over design the project?

The reduction in the depth of the retaining wall simplifies the project for the contractor. Do the less conservative engineering requirements for the construction of the retaining wall do anything for the public taxpayer?

Shouldn’t a reduction in the complexity and cost of a project that amounts to $200,000 be returned to the taxpayers?

Apparently, someone in government believes that taxpayer dollars should be handed out to contractors in circumstances like these and to make it more palatable the bureaucrats call this “value engineering.”

To take a phrase from commentator, Paul Harvey, the rest of the story is that North Canton taxpayers overpaid for a project by $200,000. The good news is that $100,000 of that amount is being returned to the taxpayer. The bad news is that another $100,000 is being forfeited to the contractor for finding an engineering firm willing to reduce the required specifications for the project. That information was not told to the readers of the Repository in their story titled “South Main bridge repair project to start in April” reported on Tuesday, November 22, 2005.

The losses to North Canton taxpayers at this meeting did not stop with the giveaway of $100,000 to a contractor who was able to convince another engineering firm that the original design of the project was overbuilt. City Administrator Michael Miller enumerated a situation at the city water treatment plant in which a delivery of chemicals to the plant was incorrectly offloaded and mixed with other chemicals. The resulting hazardous mixture had to be properly disposed of by a contractor at a cost of $32,000.

If there was no culpability on the part of the city for this error, as Mr. Miller detailed, why is this council allowing taxpayer funds to pay for the expense of cleanup and disposal?

At this point in the council meeting, council had spent $132,000 of taxpayer dollars and the taxpayer had received absolutely nothing in return!

So much for ensuring that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. There appears to be no checks and balances on the spending of city government with this council.

The jaw dropper for me at last week’s meeting was when this council refused to return a $75 deposit to the surviving family members of an elderly lady who had reserved the Civic Center for a December 26, 2005, birthday celebration/reunion and who had unfortunately passed away before the planned family gathering.

With the exception of Mr. Lindower who urged that the deposit be refunded, the decision by the rest of council is truly heartless.

This family, their relatives, their friends, and everyone they talk to for the rest of their lives will know the story of their request for consideration in their time of great loss and the cold denial North Canton City Council offered them in return.

Every time this family tells this story, they will relive this memory: City leaders in North Canton are heartless and they have no concern for their citizens. That refusal to accommodate this grieved family is certainly a testament to that fact.

This is not a good way to promote the City of North Canton!

This council did not show any concern during the meeting that $132,000 of taxpayer dollars was expended during the course of this meeting and in return taxpayers received nothing.

And yet at the end of this council meeting when it came to a very minor sum of $75 that actually did not originate from taxpayer funds, this council scrutinized it with great concern. How can this be?

The attitude that has pervaded this council body for many years that money grows on the Dogwood trees here in North Canton is about to end and soon everyone will wonder where did all the money go!

Thank you
Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Public Dollars Used to Pave Private Road Is Unlawful and Unfair To Taxpayers

Prepared Comments Made to
September 26, 2005

Approximately two weeks ago, I received a phone call from a city resident who asked me why the City of North Canton was expending public dollars to pave a private drive, specifically Pacific Avenue, SE. The city resident proceeded to tell me that he had asked this same question of city officials in 1993 when this private drive was previously paved by the city.

The response this resident was given in 1993 for the paving of a private drive using public funds was that the city had “goofed.”

A few weeks ago as the resident observed the paving of Pacific Avenue, SE for the second time; he asked me if this was another “goof” on the part of the city.

The resident who called me owns a lot on the undeveloped portion of Pacific Avenue, SE. Yes, a significant portion of this street is not built even though city maps show this as a through street.

A visit to Pacific Avenue, SE would prompt anyone to question the validity of Pacific’s designation as a dedicated street.

A conversation with a resident on the north end of Pacific Avenue, on the corner of Knoll revealed that he too knew Pacific Avenue was not a dedicated city street.

My question is this: Why do city residents know more about the status of this private drive than city officials?

My research at the Stark County map office as well as records on file at the North Canton City Council office show that efforts to dedicate Pacific Avenue in 1993 fizzled out.

Efforts to dedicate Pacific Avenue died for a reason and that is quite apparent with a visit to this secluded private drive. It obviously could not be justified. The private drive is not wide enough to meet the city’s subdivision regulations for a residential street.

This was clear to city officials in 1993, as the historical documents clearly spell out. This should ring loud and clear today as well. It is the same secluded private drive.

I would like to know why the Ward 3 Councilman put this private drive on the city’s paving list. As I stated earlier, a quick visit to Pacific Avenue should raise red flags on the validity of Pacific’s designation as a city street.

Where was the North Canton Engineering Department in this? Where was the City Administrator? Where was the mayor? Did anyone really care?

Does the fact that there is an election in a few months figure into this equation for the ward councilman and the administration?

It is admirable that the Ward 3 Councilman can get things done for his constituents, but one must operate within the bounds of the law. And just as important, one must do what is fair for residents throughout the City of North Canton. Not just what you can get away with in your ward when you are in the good graces of the administration

I was appalled last week that anyone on this council or any city official would consider a change in the status of Pacific Avenue from a private drive to a public street or an alley.

Changing the status of Pacific Avenue to a designated city street or alley is a major policy shift and is simply not fair to residents who live on streets that present much less financial liability to the city and are much more deserving of city services and yet receive nothing for the taxes they pay to the City of North Canton.

I have seen several situations throughout the city where residents living on streets that substantially meet requirements for a city street and are much more deserving of city services but were turned down when they requested snow removal services.

One such street, Sherbrook Circle comes to mind. It was built in the early 1990s and serves 36 condos, home to mostly older citizens. Sherbrook Circle has a street width of over 29 feet (inside curb to inside curb).

This is five feet wider than the street I live on. My street, with a width of slightly over 24 feet (inside curb to inside curb) enjoys street maintenance and snow removal.

Sherbrook Circle, at over 29 feet, and built to meet city codes is denied street maintenance and snow removal.

Pacific Avenue only has a right of way of twenty feet. The most recent paving of asphalt is a fifteen foot wide band of asphalt which is about all that this secluded private road can accommodate. Pacific Avenue in no stretch of anyone’s imagination comes close to meeting the requirements of a city street.

Is any of this fair?

The paving of Pacific Avenue was a violation of state law because taxpayers’ monies were used to maintain private property. But more importantly, if was unfair to city residents.

To now change the legal status of Pacific Avenue to a street or an alley to cover up years of unlawful preferential treatment will leave the city with no choice but to provide similar treatment and services for other residents throughout the city who live on undedicated roadways.

Compliance with Ohio State Statutes ensures that taxpayer funds are spent fairly and that taxpayers are treated fairly.

The expenditure of public monies must comply with the laws of Ohio. The distribution of city services must be consistent and fair to all residents of the City of North Canton.

Thank you
Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Mayor Rice Fails to Utilize City’s New Economic Development Director

Prepared Comments Made to
August 29, 2005

Last week, on Monday, August 22, 2005, there was a public hearing before this council body. The purpose of the hearing was to consider a request by a developer for an amendment to the North Canton Zoning Ordinance requesting a zone change for property situated on the south side of Applegrove Street NW.

The zone change is needed to accommodate the relocation of a new dental center to the City of North Canton. The dental center will house three dentists, six dental hygienists, and seven or more dental assistants and clerical staff.

My question to this council body, to City Administrator Michael Miller and most importantly, to Mayor Tom Rice is this:

Why isn’t North Canton’s newly-hired Economic Development Director working to bring this professional facility to North Canton?

Do we have a case of amnesia amongst all of North Canton’s city leaders? Did you forget that you have an economic development director?

The legislation to create and fund the economic development director position was passed quite some time ago and maybe Ordinance 156-03 passed on December 15, 2003, is too far in the past for many of you to recall.

Mayor Tom Rice, if you do not remember, you appointed an individual to fill the position of Economic Development Director.

That individual’s name is Eric Bowles and his annual salary is $60,669.44.

Mr. Bowles’ first day as the North Canton Economic Development Director was July 20, 2005.

Mayor Rice, I would like to know why your economic development director was not made immediately aware that three dentists were attempting to expand their entire dental practice to North Canton and bring with them at least 16 professional quality jobs until I relayed this information to him in a phone conversation on Thursday, August 25th?

On July 6, 2005, the applicant for the zone change for the dental facility met with the North Canton Planning Commission and found little if any interest from the members of that commission.

Where was North Canton’s former Economic Development Director and now city administrator, Mr. Michael Miller’s support when the developer attempting to bring this dental practice to the city met with the North Canton Planning Commission?

Where was the backing and support of the office of Mayor Tom Rice for the addition of 16 professional jobs for the City of North Canton when this zone request was put on the July agenda for the Planning Commission?

In last week’s public hearing, the developer explained there would be no requests for tax incentives or abatements. They simply wanted the needed zone change so they could build a professional dental facility. This would bring new professional jobs to the city, income tax to the city coffers, and property taxes to support the North Canton City Schools.

Property available for development in North Canton is limited under current city boundaries. The chance to bring quality professional jobs to a city with very limited land available for development should have the highest priority. Everyone in this room as well as the citizens of North Canton should be asking why Mayor Tom Rice and City Administrator Michael Miller are not utilizing North Canton’s Economic Development Director.

On Thursday, August 25, 2005, I phoned Mr. Eric Bowles and told him of this planned professional dental facility and provided him with the name and phone number of the developer. On the same day, I provided the developer with the name and phone number of North Canton’s Economic Development Director.

The next day, the developer made two attempts to phone Mr. Bowles but was told that Mr. Bowles was in meetings. By the end of the business day Friday, August 26, the developer and North Canton’s Economic Development Director still had not made contact.

This opportunity to bring 16 professional jobs to North Canton should be top priority for everyone at city hall. And the leadership on this should come from you, Mayor Rice!

A great deal of the rhetoric coming out of this city for the last several years has been everyone’s commitment to economic development. In light of the way this development is being welcomed, or should I say un-welcomed, it appears that talk of economic development for North Canton is clearly just that--talk.

I hope that I am wrong.

I ask that Mayor Tom Rice and City Administrator Michael Miller urge North Canton’s Economic Development Director to do the job he was hired to do by actively supporting Mr. Eric Bowles with more than public rhetoric.

Thank you
Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton

Monday, May 09, 2005

Funding of the CIC with Taxpayer’s Funds Hastens Financial Calamity for North Canton

Prepared Comments Made to
May 9, 2005

North Canton is suffering financially from the slow demise of the Hoover Company. Its presence here in the community continues to slip away.

This is a fact that I believe everyone here can agree on. The parent company of Hoover, the Maytag Corporation, is slipping away as well.

What is North Canton doing to prepare for a future without the presence of each of these corporations? The City of North Canton is resorting to a practice that was abandoned a century ago. Rather than conserve existing funds, North Canton has resorted to “bleeding” its remaining taxpayer funds with legislation to fund the CIC.

Until modern times, when an individual was ill, whether it was a minor or serious illness, the most commonly used remedy was phlebotomy, or better known to most people as “bloodletting” or “bleeding.”

Bleeding was used as a solution to many health ailments during the 1800s in this country, but there were often serious consequences.

For one thing, bleeding a person actually lessened the chances for a healthy recovery as it greatly weakened the patient. In 1799, George Washington was treated for acute laryngitis by use of heavy bleeding. Washington died some 24 hours later.

The approval by this council to remove $1,500,000 from the General Fund to fund the CIC is bloodletting of a different kind but with the very same dire consequences for the taxpayers of this city. Just two years ago, the carryover for the City of North Canton was approximately $17 million. Today it is $5.9 million.

If you remove $1,500,000 to fund the CIC, that brings the carryover down to $4.5 million.

How long will that carryover balance of $4.5 million last after Maytag terminates the remaining jobs left here in North Canton.?

The end of the remaining jobs at Hoover are close at hand and instead of conserving remaining taxpayer funds, Mayor Tom Rice has asked this council to “bleed” away the financial stability of this city.

On April 25, 2005, Reuters reported shares of Maytag Corporation touched a 14-year low and fell another 5 percent after Maytag reported a lower quarterly profit and slashed its outlook. Longbow Research analyst David MacGregor said in a research note, “We believe it may be too late to salvage this company as an independent player in the major appliance business.”

In the same report, Prudential analyst, Nicholas Heymann said in a research note, “It’s not hard to imagine that Maytag could be required to enter bankruptcy if it can’t secure additional funds to undertake additional cost restructuring, can’t complete its intended cost restructuring in an expedited time frame, or if the intended benefits fail to materially positively impact earnings.”

Mayor Rice, I would like to use the same comments from Prudential analyst Nicholas Heymann regarding Maytag and ask you this question.

Would the construction of an upscale restaurant on Main Street in North Canton have a materially positively impact on income tax revenues?

I think we all know the answer to that question!

In an AP report, dated April 22, 2005, I quote the following. “The company said it will take “more aggressive steps” to restructure its manufacturing operations and cut costs….”

The AP report continues with this. “Chairman and CEO Ralph Hake said that the company is looking at plants in its hometown of Newton and in North Canton, Ohio, and Florence, S.C., in its efforts to reduce costs.”

Financial analysts are saying it may be too late to salvage Maytag and that bankruptcy is imminent. What does this all mean for Hoover in North Canton?

It means a swift end of the union contract for the remaining Hoover employees as Maytag continues to cut costs.

It is obvious that Maytag’s cost cutting apparently has not had the intended benefits to materially positively impact earnings for Maytag. But it has had a materially negative impact on income tax revenues for this city.

And that is why we are all here. We are interested in North Canton’s financial health.

At the March 7, 2005, Council of the Whole meeting, Finance Director Julie Herr indicated that if “…Hoover ends up leaving, that’s $1 million in income tax gone.”

That leaves a rather simple math problem in terms of how long will the remaining carryover funds last when decreased by at least $1.0 million a year.

I guess I should be fair and say that if Mayor Tom Rice is able to fund the CIC with the funds he has requested of council and he is able to attract an upscale restaurant with the necessary liquor license, we will all be able to eat and drink well while financial calamity becomes our reality.

But what is the reality that is looming on the horizon for the taxpayers of North Canton? Increases in the income tax rates and the ending of credit for taxes paid to other communities are what are on the horizon. How economically competitive is that going to make the City of North Canton?

I ask this council to stretch what remains of North Canton’s carryover funds.

Mayor Rice, I ask that your administration scrutinize its spending practices and spend taxpayer funds as if that dollar was their last dollar. Because the remaining carryover funds are their last dollars.

It is not likely that North Canton will ever accumulate a carryover to the magnitude of $17 million dollars, or for that matter, the $5.9 million carryover that we have remaining.

Economic development will be the last thing on people’s minds when the news of the day changes to the financial shortfalls facing the City of North Canton. And that news will be here sooner than you can “Imagine North Canton.”

Thank you
Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton

Monday, April 11, 2005

Financial Health of North Canton and Oster Property Well Field Put in Jeopardy with Proposed Funding of CIC

Prepared Comments Made to
April 11, 2005

At the conclusion of last week’s meeting of the Council of the Whole, Finance Chairman and President of City Council, Jon Snyder announced, what appeared to be, council’s proposed plans to fund the CIC.

I couldn’t help but notice that there were no comments from any council members on this proposal to funding the CIC. In fact, it appeared to me that many of you lowered your heads as if you could not face the public on hearing this announcement on the funding for the CIC.

The funding announcement for the CIC was presented as if it were a compromise. But was it a compromise after weeks of discussion?

The Chairman of Finance stated that council would provide $1.5 million to the CIC to be paid out in $100,000 increments over fifteen years instead of the immediate payment of $2 million that Mayor Rice had requested.

In addition, something new was added to this funding arrangement and that was the deeding of the Oster property to the CIC.

As a result of last week’s announcement by Mr. Jon Snyder, three pieces of legislation related to the CIC funding are on tonight’s agenda.

That legislation for the proposed funding of the CIC to the tune of $1.5 million and the added decision to deed the Oster property to the CIC will put the City of North Canton on the fast track to financial disaster and also will put the Oster property in grave danger.

The specific pieces of legislation regarding the funding for the CIC are Ordinances 66-05, 67-05 and 68-05.

Ordinance 66-05 transfers $1.5 million from the Income Tax Fund to the General Fund for current expenses for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2005.

The representation in last week’s announcement by the Chairman of the Finance Committee was that the city would fund the CIC at the rate of only $100,000 per year.

In fact, the entire $1.5 million will immediately be transferred out of the income tax fund if this is passed by council. This is not how it was represented last week by the Finance Chairman Jon Snyder and I would call this a deliberate attempt to deceive the public.

Ordinance 67-05 authorizes a transfer of $1.5 million into an escrow account that is to be paid out in increments of $100,000 annually for fifteen years to the CIC. The ordinance also states that the North Canton CIC can request additional funds from the escrow account not to exceed the remaining balance in that escrow account and not to exceed $1.5 million.

The described payout of $100,000 per year for fifteen years is a smokescreen as the full $1.5 million is immediately available on request by the CIC. Mayor Tom Rice has requested $2 million to fund the CIC and he has made it clear he wanted the money weeks ago.

Do you honestly believe he is going to take $1.5 million over fifteen years? Frankly, I just cannot picture Mayor Tom Rice waiting for his last $100,000 installment payment in the year 2020.

This dispersal of the $1.5 million also was not how it was presented last week by the Finance Chairman Jon Snyder to the public. Is there a pattern of misrepresentation going on here?

Is this a deliberate attempt to deceive the public?

Ordinance 68-05 states that the Oster property is “no longer needed for municipal purposes” and authorizes the transfer of the Oster property to the CIC.

It was just two years ago that North Canton began legislation to sell the Oster property for the second time and used those very same words in legislation to authorize a public auction of that property. And for anyone who does not remember what happened next, I will tell you that Plain Township did not waste any time alerting North Canton that it would take the Oster property by eminent domain from any prospective buyer.

I cannot understand why this city would want to jeopardize the county’s most prolific source of water. The water resources under the Oster property alone could supply this entire city’s raw water needs. Where else is the city going to turn for water after it brings the East Maple Street Well Field on line?

The East Maple Street Well Field has not even been brought on line yet and has not proven itself in quantity and quality of water. Why would you want to jeopardize the vast water resources at the Oster property that are owned by the City of North Canton?

Just a few months ago, the city administration used the argument that the city
had to buy the wetlands near the East Maple Street Well Field to protect the city’s water supply at the East Maple Street Well Field. Why doesn’t that same argument apply when it comes to talking about protecting North Canton’s water resources
under the Oster property?

Something is wrong here!

Something else is wrong here when over the course of the last few weeks, Jon Snyder, the Chairman of Finance and City Council President has made the following comments in this chamber in opposition to using taxpayer funds from the city treasury to fund the CIC and then, last Monday night, does an about face and proposes millions to fund the CIC.

At the March 7, 2005, Council of the Whole meeting, Mr. Snyder made the following statements in opposition to funding the CIC in this manner:

“Economic times are not the best…we are losing are largest employer.”

“…This is more than I can recommend as Chairman of Finance…This is more than we could possibly handle…

“…I have reservations about the amount, and reservations about doing it.”

“…I do not understand the principle of taking away from the City Council, the right to legislate is solely vested in the council itself. The people, who elect the council, elect the council to legislate, and to disburse the money.”

“…The CIC is normally funded with money it generates internally or with grants such as is done in Canton.”

Finance Chairman Snyder continued at that meeting with a discussion on the city’s unfunded pension fund obligations.

“…The Finance Director estimates income tax estimates of $4,214,465.

“…Another thing that North Canton has not budgeted for is employee retirements that are expected in the next few years. Our liability is great. Our liability in 2005 is $373,883.

Our long-term liability is $1,247,248. There is no movement, there is no appropriation. There is no line item to pay that. That money has to be paid in cash and that will reduce that $4 million down to less than $3 million and that leaves
us with less than $1 million.”

One of Mr. Snyder’s most telling statements at that March 7, 2005, meeting was:

“…The city is not in a position to do this….I am against using the liquidity of
the city.”

I have to ask you Mr. Snyder, have all your fears and concerns regarding this request to fund the CIC been resolved? Have you been able to find millions of taxpayer dollars stuffed away in a mattress some where?

At this same March 7, 2005, council meeting, Mr. Snyder asked Finance Director Julie Herr her thoughts on the requested $2 million for the CIC. The Finance Director made the following statements:

“…The figure that is floating around, $2 million, of course I have concerns over that. That is almost twenty percent of our carryover.”

“…I have not taken into consideration the change in personnel at Hoover. If we take $2 million out and Hoover ends up leaving, that’s $1 million in income tax gone.”

“…When I came to the city, the city carryover was $18 million.”

“…Are there potential uses for this seed money or is it going to sit there for six months? Are we going to see results this year?”

“…Is there any plan that might start seeing results of this seed money this year, next year, two years from now?”

“…If two or three years down the road, the results of that CIC are slower than what we expected, there might be some more difficult decisions to make down the road, because that $2.0 million is not going to be there.”

The $18.0 million that was in the bank when the Finance Director arrived here in North Canton just a few years ago is now down to $5.9 million.

Deduct the proposed $1.5 million funding for the CIC and now the city carryover is reduced to $4.5 million.

Where is North Canton going to find the millions needed to finish the Main Street Improvements that were started over ten years ago?

Mayor Rice, wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to lure merchants to a Main Street that has been completely dressed up? To a “Streetscape” that was finished? The improvements that have been completed are beginning to show signs of age before
you have even finished the rest of the Main Street.

Where is North Canton going to get the funds needed to repave the rising number of streets that are desperately in need of repair? The usual yearly budget amount of $250,000 for repaving city streets is not enough and it shows. All you have to do
is drive around town to see that.

The request to fund and utilize the CIC in this fashion is no more beneficial than buying snake oil from a snake oil salesman who tells you it will cure everything that ails you!

Where is North Canton going to get the millions needed to correct storm and sewer flooding issues?

Do you think spending millions at the request of a mayor with absolutely no plan for the survival of North Canton is the answer? I certainly hope not.

Does this council have to see the “whites of the eyes” of a funding shortfall before it realizes that a financial shortfall is coming up the front walk and is about to knock on the front door of North Canton?

I ask that all council members forget the politics and make decisions as if they themselves had suffered personal financial blows to their economic existence just as North Canton has suffered.

Do not jeopardize the financial future of the city and flitter away the remaining carryover funds.

They will be needed to tide the city over rough financial times in the very near future.

And do not place the Oster property in grave danger. It is an asset that is not replaceable at any price.

Thank you
Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Mayor Rice Requests $2 Million with No Economic Study and No Plan in Place

Prepared Comments Made to
March 14, 2005

I would like to address my comments tonight to Mayor Tom Rice’s request that council appropriate $2 million to resurrect and fund the Community Improvement Corporation (CIC).

I would like to start by saying that Mayor Rice has no basis on which to make such a request without first doing an objective economic analysis of the city and second completing an economic development plan based on the conclusions learned from an economic analysis.

Neither one of these steps has been taken. There is no current economic study and there is no economic plan from Mayor Rice for North Canton!

The “Imagine North Canton” program is but a small part of an overall economic analysis study that must be done by an independent consultant with expertise in creating custom economic strategies.

Cities who are truly interested in addressing the economic uncertainty facing their communities know there must be an honest assessment of a community before decisions such as these can be made.

North Canton must know its strengths and weaknesses before it can tackle the economic realities that the city is now facing. Economic opportunities must be defined. Threats to the economic future of this city must be acknowledged and any action that the city takes to minimize those threats must be real, not window dressing.

Mayor Rice, I believe all you are providing in your request for $2 million is window dressing.

Buying up vacant properties and putting a sign up that says for sale by the City of North Canton is not economic development. And spending millions of dollars from dwindling city funds to bring in an upscale restaurant whose employees work for tips is not economically equivalent to the salaried jobs that North Canton has lost and continues to lose.

Mayor Rice, I also believe you do not truly understand the purpose of the CIC (Community Improvement Corporation) and how it should be used.

The Community Improvement Corporation here in Ohio derives from Chapter 1724 of the Ohio Revised Code. This chapter states in part that a CIC is organized “for the sole purpose of advancing, encouraging, and promoting the industrial, economic, commercial, and civic development of a community or area….to acquire improved or unimproved real estate for the purpose of constructing industrial plants or other business establishments thereon…or otherwise dispose of industrial plants or other business establishments.”

Land banking land for retail development is not the purpose of the CIC. The CIC is a tool created for facilitating industrial and commercial development that brings with it meaningful numbers of well-paying jobs. Not mere handfuls of minimum wage jobs that you describe in your quest to bring restaurants or book stores to Main Street.

We all want to see a vibrant exciting retail area up and down our Main Street but the effort and expense to bring that to North Canton must be matched with the reality of the income tax that will be generated from the kinds of jobs that retail brings with it.

And those jobs in retail are on the extreme low end of the pay scale. Can you justify risking millions of dollars of taxpayer dollars to bring a handful of minimum wage jobs to North Canton?

Furthermore, funding for a CIC was most certainly not expected to come from city coffers. The Ohio state statute regarding CICs, Section 1724.10 (A) states “…Any such debt shall be solely that of the corporation and shall not be secured by the pledge of any monies received or to be received from any political corporation.”

This research seems to reveal that municipalities do not use taxpayer dollars to fund the CIC but that they use the CIC to issue bonds and guarantee loans secured from banks made to businesses. Little if any public monies are actually tied up for funding a CIC.

This is how North Canton assisted in the construction of St. Luke’s nursing facility nearly twenty-five years ago. The North Canton Community Improvement Corporation simply provided the mechanism by which tax-free municipal bonds could be issued and no taxpayer funds were needed.

The CIC of Lake County, Ohio, is used just as North Canton used it nearly twenty-five years ago and that is to assist in the financing of industrial and commercial expansion through the issuance of industrial revenue bonds (IRB), which are exempt from Federal Income taxation. Under Ohio law, manufacturing, distribution, commercial or research facilities are eligible.

The City of Westlake, Ohio, uses its CIC to accomplish the same thing. No community would jeopardize the financial health of its city by funding its CIC with taxpayer dollars.

City officials should be asking themselves why we cannot keep the businesses that we have. Why did Spitzer Chevrolet leave North Canton? I can name a number of other businesses this city has lost just in the last year or two. Why can North Canton not keep the business that it already has?

The same section of the statute referred to earlier regarding CICs also states the following: “…the community improvement corporation shall prepare a plan for the political subdivision of industrial, commercial, distribution, and research development, and such plan shall provide therein the extent to which the community improvement corporation shall participate as the agency of the political subdivision in carrying out such a plan.”

And with that, I would like to ask you, Mayor Rice, where is your economic plan?

On Wednesday, March 9, 2005, I presented to your office a written request for a copy of your economic plan. I went to your office two days later, on Friday, March 11, 2005, to secure a copy, and was told that there was nothing available to give me.

Mayor Rice, I do not understand how you expect to come to this council with a request for $2 million when you have no economic plan.

In your letter to Council President, Jon Snyder, dated February 7, 2005, you proposed the expenditure of two million dollars but you provided no mention of a plan. On what basis is Mr. Snyder supposed to make any judgment on your request for millions of taxpayer dollars? Mr. Snyder is not only the council president but also the Chairman of the Finance Committee.

Mayor Rice, in the March edition of Our Town, that came out to the public earlier this month, you state that “the CIC would allow North Canton to proactively respond to property developments within our business areas through a more timely and efficient process than the normal city legislative process.” How quickly must you respond?

If you were by chance flying an aircraft and there was a mechanical emergency, I could certainly understand the need to respond quickly. What I cannot understand is how this council could not direct its energies and act in a prompt fashion given the need to do so. I believe that council could act with all due speed if an opportunity presented itself to the

This city had no trouble coming up with $4.2 million that had not been budgeted when it wanted to purchase Arrowhead Country Club two years ago even though it was a purchase against the recommendation of the Director of Finance.

Mayor Rice, your request that council appropriate $2 million of taxpayer dollars for some vague purpose, the specifics of which are unknown to this council, in reality is a request from you that this council abdicate its responsibility to the citizens of this community.

Furthermore, your request to place $2 million of the city’s operating funds into the CIC is an attempt to bypass the public scrutiny that is afforded the public when public monies are expended in this council.

Mayor Rice, you have no independent economic study on which to base an economic plan and you have no economic plan.

I ask that council members proceed in a prudent manner in their decision whether or not to fund the CIC in this manner. As council members, you must represent the public in all matters as your office prescribes and it must be done with realistic expectations for success.

Thank you

Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton

Monday, February 28, 2005

North Canton Administrator Violates City Charter in Land Deal

Prepared Comments Made to
February 28, 2005

I would like to address my comments to this council regarding City Administrator Michael Miller’s efforts to acquire 24 acres of wetlands in the Nimishillen Creek Floodplain without consulting and communicating with North Canton City Council.

I would like to begin by saying that the preservation of these wetlands and floodplain is important to me. It is important to Plain Township, to the Stark County Park District, and to
the entire community of Stark County.

And in that vein, I think that we need to realize that everyone can benefit no matter who becomes the environmental steward of this property.

North Canton does not have to acquire this property to protect and preserve the wetlands.
Any number of government entities who have attempted to acquire these wetlands could preserve this property for the benefit of all without any financial burden on the taxpayers
of North Canton.

Administrator Michael Miller and Mayor Tom Rice have totally ignored this option and would have this council believe that acquisition of these wetlands by North Canton is the only option available and that is far from the truth.

The truth is that the seller has been shopping this property for many years, and the reason the property has not sold is that the owner is asking a king’s ransom for the property.

The Stark County Park District discussed acquisition of this property as far back as 1999.
Also, Plain Township, where the property is located, has expressed interest in acquiring and preserving these wetlands over the years.

North Canton seriously negotiated for these wetlands in 2001, and went so far as to have an appraisal done on the property. The appraisal, dated April 5, 2001, valued the property at $5,000 per acre.

North Canton declined two offers from the seller four years ago. The first offer from the seller was for $18,000 per acre on March 13, 2001. A second offer from the seller a few months later was for $15,000 per acre made on June 10, 2001.

If government leaders in Plain Township, the Stark County Park District, and North Canton passed on this property at an asking price of $15,000 four years ago, why would you now consider paying $22,500 per acre? And that price does not include the expense of $50,000
in improvements the seller wants the city to make to the property for his benefit and the fifty
year lease of the property back to the seller for one dollar per year?

We have all heard the saying that “there is a fool born every minute.” Well, I believe that the seller of this property has found two of these individuals right here in North Canton City government.

Mr. Miller and Mayor Rice, why are you resurrecting the seller’s pipe dream that the taxpayers of North Canton would want to pay far in excess of the fair market value for this property?

Mr. Miller, you stated to council in a memo, dated February 9, 2005, that the Water Rate Utility Study was the basis for moving ahead with the purchase of these wetlands. One of the goals of that Water Utility Rate study is “Environmental Stewardship.”

Environmental stewardship is what governments are expected to foster and promote and that
is a worthy goal. But environmental stewardship should not come at the expense of fiscal stewardship.

Mr. Miller’s arguments at last Tuesday’s council meeting for acquisition of these wetlands are unsound and rely on scare tactics. The first scare tactic was that the property must be purchased to stop development.

The August 6, 2004, appraisal of the property provides the following site description: “The subject site is generally level and low with a significant portion of the subject being in a flood zone….A significant portion of the subject property lies in a 100-year flood zone. During times
of heavy rains, a significant portion of the subject lies under 2 to 3 feet of water as the creek floods….[and] a soil survey from the Stark County Soil & Water Conservation Study indicates the presence of hydric soils, which would indicate the possible existence of wetlands on the property. Most of the soils are either Muck or Sloan, therefore a Delineation Study would be necessary if someone wanted to develop the site.”

Mr. Miller, it is laughable that you would attempt to tell this council that North Canton must purchase this property to prevent development. Your own appraisal indicates that the likelihood of development on this property is very unlikely.

The revelation in last Tuesday evening’s council meeting that Administrator Miller had given the seller a $6,000 payment as part of a six-month option agreement is beyond comprehension. This expenditure and the agreement, which Administrator Miller signed, were without the knowledge or approval of city council.

Mr. Miller, what was the purpose of making a payment on an option to purchase when there is no one competing for the property at the price you have offered?

It appears to me you were trying to keep council from walking away from this deal rather than the seller!

Why would you think this seller needed an incentive to bind him to this deal? This seller had finally hooked North Canton into paying more than $22,500 an acre for property that only a
few years earlier the city had declined to buy for $15,000 per acre.

Is it possible that maybe you were really just trying to make council feel more obligated to approve this deal? What part of this deal do you think council will focus on? The wholly unacceptable terms and price you have negotiated or the loss of $6,000 of taxpayer dollars if council turns down this convoluted deal. This is a scare tactic on your part to force council into
a deal that is against the best interest of North Canton taxpayers.

Another scare tactic last week was your comment that North Canton would lose the grant funds if it does not proceed with this deal.

Quite honestly, Mr. Miller and you, Mayor Rice, it appears as if you are working on behalf of
the seller. You have argued vigorously for this deal that is stacked overwhelmingly in favor
of the seller and against the taxpayers of this city.

You have fashioned a deal that is in your own words, convoluted, and it makes North Canton
a party to a blatant attempt to evade tax implications of the sale for the seller.

What is the actual sale price of this property? In total dollars, the seller’s sale price in 2001 began at $364,140. Later that same year, the seller’s price for the property dropped to $303,450.

In 2005, the sale price rises to $540,000 with the owner contributing $120,000 of the sale price back to the city. The net to the seller in this transaction is $420,000. This is far higher than the $303,450 that North Canton turned down in 2001 and it allows the seller to claim a fictitious donation in this deal.

This same “fuzzy math” has been used to mislead the members of the NRAC who authorized
a grant of $180,000 for the City of North Canton to purchase these wetlands.

It is my understanding that the grant to purchase this property is a 75/25 match with 75%
of the purchase price coming from local sources. If you remove the fictitious donation from
the seller, this criteria is not met.

Mr. Miller, since you are Chairman of the Natural Resource Assistance Council for District 19, can one conclude that your position as chairman has what might be termed “special privileges when dispensing these public funds?

The numbers are being manipulated in a scheme to deceive everyone and you know it!

This deal by Administrator Miller and Mayor Tom Rice has more holes than a hundred slices
of Swiss cheese.

There is an additional cost to North Canton taxpayers in the terms of this proposed purchase that has not been quantified.

Everyone here on this council as well as in certain flood-prone areas of the city is aware of the problems of the Zimber Ditch. What costs are the taxpayers of North Canton assuming when North Canton takes ownership of the West Branch of the Nimishillen Creek?

I would like to conclude with what I believe are flagrant violations of North Canton City Charter that have grown out of the secrecy that has surrounded this deal:

The North Canton City Administrator, Mr. Michael Miller, signed an option agreement for the purchase of this property nearly three months ago on November 22, 2004, without any consultation or knowledge of the North Canton City Council.

This is a direct violation of Section 3.01 (4) of the North Canton City Charter. “The mayor shall sign, on behalf of the municipality, all contracts, conveyances of indebtedness and all other instruments to which the municipality is a party.”

Mayor Rice, is there any reason why you did not sign this agreement? And please do not tell
me that you were unavailable! You know as well as everybody else in this room that this is a deal that nobody would want.

The option agreement sets forth a purchase price of $540,000 for the property. The negotiations and subsequent agreement to purchase this property has taken place without
any consultation or knowledge of the North Canton City Council.

Furthermore, Mr. Miller expended $6,000 to secure a six-months option and dispensed the funds nearly three months ago on November 30, 2004, without the knowledge of the North Canton City Council. The $6,000 is to be deducted from the purchase price of $540,000. This agreement is much more than a $6,000 agreement but the purchase of property for a price in excess of the amount allowed by Section 4.05 of the North Canton City Charter and Section 735.05 of the OHIO REVISED CODE.

These are serious violations of the North Canton City Charter and show a total disregard for
the system of checks and balances that is built into the process of city government.

The secrecy in which the negotiations for this property have been held should unnerve every member of this council.

I would urge this council to end any further discussions under the present terms for the purchase of this property and demand a return of the $6,000 given to the seller without
proper authority by Mr. Miller.

I would urge this council to direct Mr. Miller to partner with the Stark County Commissioners and allow the county to pursue acquisition of these wetlands for the benefit of the entire community. In this way, the goal of Environmental Stewardship is achieved and North Canton taxpayers are spared any further expense.

Thank you

Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton

Monday, February 14, 2005

North Canton Taxpayers Pay For Mistakes of Developers & Contractors

Prepared Comments Made To
February 14, 2005

In November, 2004, the City of North Canton abandoned an 8-inch water line loop that ran between Wynstone Circle and Wynstone Circle cul-de-sac to allow for the construction of a home. This is noted in a letter, dated January 27, 2005, from Mr. Michael Miller, the Director of Administration for the City of North Canton to me. The incorrect location of the 8-inch water line, had it not been changed, would have put the line just one or two feet away from the foundation of the home that was to be built. The small size of this lot did not allow for relocating the placement of the new home on the building lot.

The city abandoned the 8-inch water line loop and put a 2-inch water line loop in the centerline of the utility easement at the expense of North Canton taxpayers. The 2-inch water line loop was routed where the original 8-inch water line loop should have been installed and where plats approved by the city purported it to be located.

I contend that in spite of the fact that the City of North Canton assumed ownership of the utilities when the plat for this development was approved in 1998, that the City of North Canton should not be financially responsible for rectifying this problem.

In this instance, the city should have either required the developer to correct his error by relocating the 8-inch water line loop at his expense or refused a building permit for the construction of a home on this lot.

With no home on the lot, the 8-inch water line loop presented no problems for the city.

If the developer had wanted to save the sale of this building lot, the developer should have been financially responsible for relocating the 8-inch water line loop.

Had the developer located the 8-inch waterline loop more precisely in the centerline of the utility easement, there would have been no problem whatsoever.

And given that the building lots are small in this development, the developer should have realized that the location of utilities in this development was critical if high-density development was a high priority.

I have spoken to North Canton city officials and their reply is that they wanted to minimize potential risks to the city and the new homeowner in the event that there would be problems with this waterline. I can certainly concur with their foresight in that regard.

But, public monies should not have been used to benefit the developer.

I requested and received from the city a list of time and materials that were expended by the city to relocate this loop between Wynstone Circle and Wynstone Circle cul-de-sac. I have asked for an accurate costing of items on this list to determine a total cost to the City of North Canton taxpayers, but city officials have declined to provide these, stating that “No complete accounting exists.”

A similar example of waste, but on a much grander scale is the next example.

In 1993, the streets of Rose Lane and Fair Oaks Avenue, south of Glenwood Avenue, received new storm drainage, new curb & gutter and a new asphalt surface at a bid price of nearly $260,000. A change order on this project pushed the final cost to complete this project to more than $300,000.

In 2004, taxpayers were asked to pay for the rebuilding of Rose Lane and Fair Oaks Avenue. This time the cost exceeded $334,000.

One would expect that infrastructure such as a street would have a longer life span than just a few years but this was not the case here. A subsurface report completed by an engineering firm consulted in 2002 determined that the contractor in 1993 used unsuitable base materials which led to a failure of the street. The report also states that the failure of these two streets was observed soon after the 1993 reconstruction.

The deterioration of Rose Lane and Fair Oaks Avenue was allowed to continue for several years until the city had no choice but to reconstruct each of these streets.

Who is looking out for the taxpayers of this city?

The few thousand dollars that were expended to correct the water line loop for a developer on Wynstone Circle pale in comparison to the hundreds of thousands of dollars that were expended to correct the problems left by a contractor on Rose Lane and Fair Oaks Avenue.

Different dollar amounts in these two situations but the same mindset exists and it is very disturbing.

Why is their no outrage that declining city revenues are being used to correct mistakes such as these?

Contractors and developers are not being held accountable for their mistakes.

Why is there no mechanism in place to protect North Canton and its residents from situations such as the two I have just described?

I am sure there are other expenditures that leave the taxpayer holding the bag. And all the while, vendors invoice the city for these mistakes while at the same time sending in campaign contributions to elected officials.

Is this council providing “checks and balances” as it should? Or, does it turn a blind eye to what it knows is going on with these kind of expenditures.

Mayor Tom Rice, where are you when it comes to these types of expenditures? It is vendors such as these that continue to provide you with campaign contributions while you give away public funds.

The City of North Canton is in its third year of outspending its revenues. Expenditures such as these are not fair and North Canton taxpayers are taking it on the chin!

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne

Monday, January 24, 2005

Proposal to Reduce Minimum Street Width for Residential Streets

Prepared Comments Made To
January 24, 2005

I would like to address the discussions that have taken place on council regarding the proposal to reduce the allowed minimum street width for residential streets. Presently, North Canton requires a minimum residential street width of 30 feet and the proposed legislation is to reduce this minimum to 24 feet.

The premise for this reduction is to reduce the amount of storm water runoff. It would appear that if there is truly a concern about storm water runoff that a more comprehensive approach should be taken.

It would be quite logical to reduce the density of development that is currently allowed in residential areas. Larger lot sizes would mean less development under roof and more open ground to absorb the then reduced amounts of rain water.

In addition, if there is truly a great concern with storm water runoff, why isn’t this a county-wide effort? It would seem that to truly make a dent into the issue of storm water runoff that every community would have to participate to have any real beneficial impact on this problem.

Frankly, is it possible that you are attacking the problem from the wrong direction? Shouldn’t there be a county-wide effort to improve the waterways and tributaries where storm water runoff is dumped if there is any hope to significantly improve how storm water runoff is handled?

Trying to marginally reduce storm water runoff into tributaries that have not been maintained for decades and that have never kept pace with development in the county simply by narrowing our residential streets seems to be an ineffective and simplistic way of attacking this problem.

In addition, reducing the minimum required residential street width negatively impacts people’s lives. Aesthetically, it changes neighborhoods.

I live on a street that is 24 feet wide, the minimum width you are now proposing for new development. It is not adequate. In the last few years, there have been five accidents in my block on Fairview Street.

Four of the accidents involved neighbors backing out of their driveways and backing into cars parked on the street. The fifth accident involved a city resident traveling down Fairview Street who was unable to negotiate the narrow passageway between two cars parked on each side of the street. The elderly driver struck one of the cars, wedging her car against one of the parked cars.

Why would you want to create hardships such as these for drivers?

Is this the kind of neighborhood situations that you want to create for residents?

And although you report that the city’s emergency forces have signed off on this proposal, why would you want to create situations where the passage of emergency services down a residential street came down to mere inches? This is what you are creating for the citizens of North Canton.

Mr. Miller, I would like to take issue with your memo to council members regarding this proposal to reduce the minimum required width of new residential streets from 30 feet to 24 feet. I had to laugh when I read in your memo that there is no problem with parking at Monticello. There is no comparison to a development such as Monticello that has half-acre residential lots (that is 20,000 s.f.) to a development that would be built under the city’s current minimum residential building lot R-70 (which is11,200 s.f.) or under R-50 (which is 7,200 s.f.).

Nor can you compare parking requirements of a Monticello to the parking requirements
of our current minimum lot sizes, classified as R-70 and R-50 building lots. Smaller building lots will place a far greater demand on residential roadway requirements, in addition to the two cars most residents own, simply because there are a greater number
of people living closer together who have greater numbers of friends and relatives visiting their homes.

My point is that if you reduce the minimum required width for residential streets, there must be a concurrent reduction in housing density and this means requiring larger building lots.

Yesterday, I visited a number of streets that various council members live on and with the exception of Mr. Foltz, everyone else lives on streets that meet or exceed the current minimum width of 30 feet.

Mr. Sarbach and Mr. Lindower, 7th Street is 30 feet wide. Mr. Peters, Woodside Avenue is 30 feet wide. Mr. Lane, Summit Street is 30 feet wide. Mrs. Kiesling, Bonnett Street is 32 feet wide. Mr. Snyder, your former residence on Wilkshire Circle is 33 ½ feet wide. The majority of this council cannot appreciate the issues that arise from living on a narrow street.

Lastly, I wonder how many here on this council have given this issue very much thought or followed up on the information that was provided to them from Mr. Miller in his memo.

Mr. Miller, in your memo to council members, I could not corroborate the information regarding street widths of certain streets that you list. You state East Maple Street is 24 feet wide. I measured it in three places and no where did I find it to measure 24 feet. Between the YMCA and the Hoover Company it measured 34 feet wide. Farther east near the intersection of Foster and East Maple, the street measured 28 feet wide, not 24 feet.

You state that Woodland Avenue, between Church Street and Tanglewood Drive is 22 feet wide. I measured Woodland near the intersection of Glenwood Street and Woodland Avenue and Woodland Avenue measured 24 feet. I hope these errors were simply typos not an attempt to bolster your argument for your proposal.

I will concur with the statement in your memo that Bachtel Street, between Fair Oaks Avenue and South Main Street, is 21 feet wide.

If you are trying to make an argument that just because these narrow city streets have existed for years and that they are adequate for homeowners and residents, the argument is not valid. I talked to a resident on Bachtel last night and they will tell you quite the opposite, certainly for this narrow portion of Bachtel between Fair Oaks and South Main Street.

This family told me they have complained for years at how inadequate Bachtel Street is for the bus traffic as well as the traffic, in general that uses this street for a cut-through.

I am very concerned that you seem to brag that this narrow street carries school bus traffic and that you are using this street as the basis for your argument to propose that the city reduce the minimum width of residential streets in our neighborhoods.

Just because this city has narrow streets that were laid out when this city was first settled at the turn of the century does not validate the fact that narrow residential streets adequately meet the needs of our neighborhoods today.

How can you honestly say that this proposal has merit?

The proposal to allow a reduction in minimum residential street width without matching changes in minimum lot sizes, in the name of storm water reduction, needs to be shelved just as the proposal a few months ago to turn a significant portion of Price Park into a detention basin was shelved.

Thank you,

Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Could North Canton Be Better Served With a Full-time Mayor?

Letter to the Editor
The Repository
Canton, Ohio
January 4, 2005

The idea to create the position of economic development director for the City of North Canton began during the months leading up to the fall 2003 elections. Economic development is important to any community and it was certainly the popular thing to discuss in last fall’s campaign, given the ongoing exodus of the Hoover Company. Just about every candidate jumped on the economic bandwagon, and endorsed the hiring of an economic development director.

What would an individual demand in compensation to head up economic development for a city the size of North Canton? The City of Canton used a search firm to spend upwards of $50,000 to find a qualified individual who is paid $80,000.

But North Canton faces issues far different from those faced by Canton. North Canton has no vacant industrial parks. It has no industrial park. Without expansion of its borders, there is no possibility of anything resembling an industrial park or an office park, so what would you expect from a full-time economic development director? Given the lack of real estate in North Canton for development, the city’s only option is to enhance its retail business on Main Street.

Given North Canton’s efforts in this regard, I propose the following:

First, North Canton should fund its economic development efforts through the North Canton Chamber of Commerce with financial support authorized by city council.

Second, I would highly urge that the office of mayor be made a full-time position. With a full-time mayor, the city gains additional prestige and the citizens gain a mayor who would be made more accountable. Economic development for any city should begin with a mayor who is ready to focus all his time and energy for the city he is expected to serve.

Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton

Explanations Needed For Mayor’s Actions

Prepared Comments Made To
North Canton City Council
January 26, 2004

Over the last few weeks, I have learned of several seemingly illogical decisions made by Mayor Tom Rice and I would like the mayor to provide an explanation in this forum about these decisions:

First: Legislation to study flooding issues in the city was passed by council last fall and he refused to sign it thus delaying action by the city. Later, he refused to sign the contract with the engineering firm that was hired to do the work. Are these actions in the best interest of the citizens of North Canton?

Second: He refused to participate in an opportunity to bring increased tax abatements offered by the State of Ohio to the City of North Canton. As I understand it, this opportunity involved a request in writing declaring that North Canton met criteria for a State of Ohio designation that would allow state tax abatements for equipment purchases by manufacturers doing business in the city. Wouldn’t a program such as this be instrumental in retaining the Hoover Company here in North Canton and bolstering our economic development efforts? Why would the city refuse participation in a state-sponsored program such as this?

Third: What benefit is it to the citizens of the City of North Canton for the mayor to remove long-time dedicated members from the North Canton Park Board? These members were highly endorsed by the North Canton City School Board and have served this city with dedication.

Fourth: Does it serve the city to have the search for the Economic Director shrouded in secrecy and controversy? How is this new employee going to serve as an ambassador for the city when his very employment appears clothed in deception and mystery? What is the city trying to hide under the guise of courtesy and protection of privacy rights?

Lastly: What benefit is it to the citizens of the City of North Canton to remove our former City Administrator, Mr. David Held? The mayor stated in his interview to the Repository Editorial board in the mayoral campaign, not much more than ninety days ago, that he trained Mr. Held and that he was doing a great job for the city. What has changed in the last ninety days that would force such an abrupt change for our community?

The citizens of North Canton deserve a logical and honest explanation for each these decisions.


Chuck Osborne
307 Fairview St. SE
North Canton, OH 44720

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Council Obligated To Investigate Allegations of Wrongdoing By Mayor Rice

Prepared Comments Made To
March 8, 2004

I feel compelled to address the comments that were made in last weeks Council of the Whole meeting by two members of this body regarding their reluctance to move ahead with an investigation of Mayor Tom Rice.

I would like to point out that it is your duty, first and foremost, to insure that the conduct of city business is handled in an open and trustworthy fashion. When there are allegations that jeopardize the public’s trust in the process of government, it is imperative that steps be taken in an expeditious and timely manner to restore the public’s trust in their government and their elected officials.

The comments in the press from Mayor Tom Rice that the allegations I have made are politically motivated are simply untrue. If my intentions were politically motivated, I would have acted before the election, not after the election.

If you want to know what a politically motivated attack on a public official looks like, just go back to October of 2002 when hearsay evidence was presented to this body. Some council members, who are still sitting on this council today, with no hesitation, voted to immediately initiate a full-blown investigation. It was a witch hunt for any possible misconduct that could be found and none was found.

Allegations of wrongdoing have been made against Mayor Tom Rice and presented to this body. This is not a witch hunt to find any possible misconduct. Specific allegations have been presented to this body, in writing, with evidence to back up the allegations.

Mr. Foltz, in my last meeting as a member of this council on November 24, 2003, you said and I quote, “Chuck, we didn’t see eye to eye in a lot of issues, but I respect your research, your compassion towards your beliefs…” Mr. Foltz, if you meant what you said, I ask that you to vote with this body to move ahead with an investigation. I ask that you put your duty as a city councilman ahead of any personal friendship that you may have with Mayor Tom Rice. Mr. Lane, I ask that you do your duty as well.

Every member of this council has taken an oath “…to support the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the State of Ohio, and the Ordinances and Resolutions of the City of North Canton, and to faithfully, honestly, and impartially, discharge the duties of the Office of Council Member of the City of North Canton, Ohio…”

Any attempt to thwart a fair and impartial investigation by this body would constitute a cover-up and undermine the public’s trust in North Canton City Government.

Chuck Osborne
307 Fairview Street, SE
North Canton, Ohio

Mayor Tom Rice Provides No Leadership or Accountability

Prepared Comments Made To
April 12, 2004

Last week’s council meeting brought to mind something I saw many years ago in a visit to the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, Missouri. In one of the exhibits at the library was a display of the desk used by former President Truman in the Oval Office, and among the items placed on the desk was a plaque with the inscription, “The Buck Stops Here!”

Mayor Rice, I would like to ask you, “Where does the buck stop in North Canton?” It appears that no one is guiding this city or is ultimately held responsible for its leadership.

Week after week you refuse to answer questions in this chamber, you refuse to take a stand on issues vital to the fiscal health of this city, and you provide no oversight or leadership to the citizens of North Canton.

I can present many examples but in this instance I am referring to the recent discussions on sewer rates. They were discussed in this chamber earlier this year and again last week on April 5, 2004. I did not hear as much as a peep from you on this issue.

I use the term “discussions on sewer rates” very loosely as they were simply reports from the Finance Director that the sewer rates have not been adjusted since 1997 and since that time, North Canton has absorbed three rate increases from the Metropolitan Sewer district.

The Finance Director stated that North Canton has burned through an $800,000 credit from the MSD that existed in that sewer fund just a few years ago, and the city is now subsidizing sewer fees out of the general fund.

This has resulted in the completion of fewer and fewer sewer projects over the last few years. Just two months ago, on February 2, 2004, Finance Director Herr told this council that this city will not be able to fund any sewer projects next year unless sewer fees are increased.

Mayor Rice, why does this not alarm you? Why is there no leadership from the Mayor of North Canton?

As for anyone on council, when you give citizens of North Canton a break on fees for city services, you are actually doing them a disservice. Maintaining fees at an artificially low rate simply forces future councils and residents to play catch-up.

When you fail to charge a fiscally prudent fee for city services, you are actually forgoing needed infrastructure improvements that are needed to maintain city services and the vitality and health of the city.

Just ask the business owners on North Main Street who found sewage in their businesses, the city residents throughout the city who were flooded recently, or the residents on Bel Air Avenue long overdue for new waterlines. Many of these problems would have been corrected years ago had the proper revenues for services rendered been collected in a timely fashion.

“Who is minding the store?” Who should be looking at the big picture and heading off problems that are easily defined through simple long-range planning?

Mayor Rice, where are you on this sewer issue? Why aren’t you taking a stand on a fee structure so much-needed infrastructure improvements can be funded properly?

As the Chief Executive Officer of this city, how can you even begin to think of hiring an economic development director for this city when you fail to provide needed revenues for infrastructure improvements? A department within the city devoted entirely to economic development cannot bring opportunities to a city that has inadequate infrastructure and leadership.

Mayor Rice, as the Mayor of the City of North Canton, I think that you need to follow the example of former President Harry S. Truman.

As Mayor, the responsibility is yours, Mr. Rice. You cannot blame City Council or the City Administrator. This is your watch and “The buck stops with you.”

Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton

Water Distribution Analysis Cites Poor Fire Protection throughout City

Prepared Comments Made To
November 8, 2004

Last week, Mayor Tom Rice took issue with proposed council legislation to fund the engineering of new water lines for Bonnett Street. Mr. Rice, I do not understand why you would oppose the much needed upgrade of sub-standard water lines for residents in the City of North Canton.

Yes, Councilperson Kiesling does live on Bonnett Street but so do many other families.

Presently, Bonnett Street is served by 6-inch water lines that were installed in 1944. Why would you oppose the replacement of residential water lines that are sixty years old?

Mr. Rice, last week you stated your concern that old deteriorated water lines, specifically 4-inch water lines, do not allow for adequate fire protection. You made reference to a water distribution analysis that was recently completed for the city.

This is the Water Distribution Analysis completed for North Canton in May, 2003, by Finkbeiner, Pettis & Stout, Inc.

I would like to cite excerpts from this study that begins on page Vll-2 and continues into page Vll-3:
“Poor fire protection exists throughout the city, specifically in the older areas with smaller diameter mains. Tuberculation effectively decreases the working diameter of these mains over time, thus further reducing the fire flow capacities in these mains. As stated previously, 4-inch diameter and smaller mains are not designed for fire protection. Also, 6-inch diameter mains with long unreinforced lengths are marginal at providing adequate protection. Aging of these 6-inch diameter mains (tuberculation over time) can easily reduce the effective diameter to 4-inch or less, further reducing their fire flow capacities.”

Continuing, the report states,
“Several 6-inch diameter mains have also been identified as having poor fire protection. These mains are listed in Table 8 as well.” I would like to point out to you Mr. Rice that Bonnett Street is listed in this table. Table 8 is titled Recommended Water System Improvements.

Mr. Rice, last week you also stated your concern that old deteriorated water lines, specifically 4-inch water lines, adversely impact the overall efficiency of the water distribution system. Again, I would like to cite excerpts from the same water distribution study. This appears on page V-4 under the heading System Headloss:

“Headloss within the system will restrict the amount of flow that a water main can carry. Headloss gradient greater than three or four feet per 1,000 feet of pipe is considered high and should be addressed by the city. During extreme conditions such as fire flows, these mains greatly reduce the amount of flow available in the area and results in lower pressures. Reasons for high headloss gradients include age, pipe material and diameter, lack of reinforcement, and buildup of solids (tuberculation) on the inside of the water main due to water instability. Replacing 4-inch and 6-inch diameter water mains with 8-inch diameter mains would allow a systematic approach to increasing fire flows to a more acceptable level.”

Clearly, the aged 6-inch water line on Bonnett Street does not provide adequate fire protection to the residents living on Bonnett Street and it adversely impacts the North Canton Water Distribution System. Mr. Rice, this situation should be of great concern to you, but given your objections last week, it appears you are not concerned.

Bonnett Street residents also live with inferior water day after day for washing, bathing and drinking. That is, if they choose to drink it.

Mr. Rice, your pretense in raising objections to the engineering of Bonnett Street for new water lines is quite transparent. It is simply an attempt to get back at Councilperson Keisling, pure and simple.

I might also add Mayor Rice that you had no problem signing legislation last year
(114-03) for engineering Bel Air even though Bel Air did not appear in the table of recommended water system improvements done by Finkbeiner, Pettis & Stout, Inc.

Bel Air also received new sanitary and storm sewer, curb and gutter, and new street pavement. As we all know, Bel Air is in Ward One and its Ward Councilperson is Mr. Doug Foltz. Mayor Rice, do certain council members receive favor favorable treatment from you if they remain in your good graces? It appears that is the case!

I would like to propose that the City of North Canton place a moratorium on any further street improvements and focus on the replacement of all inferior water lines. The policy of totaling rebuilding sanitary and storm sewer, curb and gutter and pavement of new streets will force many residents to continue to endure inferior quality water as well as forego adequate fire protection for years to come.

Is this any way to promote the City of North Canton? Do you think the residents that have endured these inferior water systems make good ambassadors for the city? I do not think so and you know they don’t as well.

I continue to hear the argument that we do not want to tear up the city streets twice. No one on this council or from the administration gave it a second thought when you rushed to tear up streets to put in the 24-inch water main to connect East Maple Street Well Field to the Water Treatment Plant.

That water line zig zags all through the city. When completed and repaved, except for the different color paving, no one gives it a thought that the street was dug up for a water line. If it was not a problem to put in the 24-inch water main, why is it a problem to put in water lines on residential streets that are in desperate need of new water lines?

Why are residents destined to live like second-class citizens because their council and their mayor would rather pave new streets than provide clean drinking water and adequate fire protection?

But improvements to the city’s water infrastructure cannot happen if rates are not set fairly and properly. Did you ever think that if this council had set the proper water rates last year and again earlier this year that many of these streets would not still be waiting for funding for needed funding for water lines?

And Mayor Rice, where is your leadership? Months have gone by without a peep from you and now that council has ended their scrutiny of you, the best you can offer is your foul language and vengeance on council members of your choosing.

Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton

Lagging Water & Sewer Rates Impact Economic Development

Prepared Comments Made To
February 9, 2004

The recent discussions regarding economic development in North Canton and who will head the city’s economic development efforts has been a very hot topic over the last few months.

One of the most important reasons that a municipality works to foster economic growth is to create a revenue stream from the income taxes and property taxes that businesses generate that are used to support city services.

But, long before any efforts are made toward economic development, a municipality should be making the most of its existing revenue collections and this is not being done in North Canton.

Two items were discussed last week that have me wondering if anybody is minding the store here in North Canton. I am talking about the discussions regarding sewer rates and water rates.

Sewer rates in this community have not been adjusted since 1997 in spite of the fact that the county has raised their rates charged to North Canton three times in that span of time ( 4.03% in 2000, 8.74% the next year in 2001 and a 11.77% increase just recently approved by the Stark County Commissioners).

The statement last Monday night by the Director of Finance that this city has had to forgo sewer projects this year because there are no funds to pay for these projects is about the saddest thing I have ever heard. And I am sure even more disheartening to the families who experienced flooding and sewer backups last year. I am estimating that North Canton has missed out on close to $500,000 on uncollected revenue, had sewer rates kept pace with what the MSD is charging the City of North Canton. These are vitally needed funds needed for sewer infrastructure improvements.

Who is in charge of leading this city? Mayor Rice, I think the chain of command leads to you but I am sure you will use the excuse you have used in the past and say it is a function of council. Another missed opportunity for North Canton.

Water rates were another issue that was discussed last week. I was so amused last week when Ward One Councilman, Mr. Foltz, said he might support a water rate increase if the increase was kept to either a nickel or a dime. I might point out to you Mr. Foltz that council unanimously voted to give each of the city’s labor unions a 3.8 percent pay increase recently and that if you adjust the city’s water rates at the same rate of 3.8 percent, that the increase in water rates would be nearly eleven cents.

Has anyone ever calculated the revenue that was lost by this city over the sixteen years that water rates remained unchanged (1984 – 2000)? If anybody ever wondered why the city had to borrow the entire $11 million dollars for the upgrade and expansion of the city’s water treatment plant, they now know that undercharging for city services did not benefit the citizens of North Canton in the long run. Water and sewer rates must be set so that North Canton is not always fiscally, playing catch-up. This is what it has been doing for a long time.

Better setting of rates for city services will allow the city to forgo the need to drain funds from either the general fund or the rainy day fund and with some future planning, allow North Canton to move closer to plans for a new safety center.

Getting back to economic development, that I mentioned earlier, I would just like to say that given the background of North Canton’s new City Administrator, I believe that the City Administrator should also handle the role of the city’s Economic Development Director. Given that Mr. Miller has headed up a city of 80,000 plus and now finds himself running a city that is a quarter of that size, I believe he is more than capable of handling that job as well.

And finally, I have to say that I am disappointed that council’s efforts to get answers from Mayor Rice have continued to be brushed aside. With the unanimous vote by council last week to confirm Mr. Miller, it appears that Mayor Rice will not be accountable for his actions that have been described by council members Kiesling, Peters and Lindower in the press as “reckless and impulsive.”

Mr. Rice, I would like an answer to Mr. Peter’s question that he has asked twice in this council. “What direction were we headed for before and what direction are you proposing now?”

Suspension of the Hearings for the Removal of Mayor Tom Rice

Prepared Comments Made To
October 11, 2004

City Council’s decision at last Monday’s Council of the Whole meeting to permanently suspend the hearings regarding the possible removal of Mayor Tom Rice has shown me that although we are a community governed and protected by laws, those laws and the protections they provide us are worth little more than the paper they are printed on when individuals fail to live by those laws.

I am referring to you Tom Rice, the individual charged with violating the public’s trust and the charter of the City of North Canton as well as to the members of this City Council who have failed to uphold the charter they have sworn to protect.

Tom Rice, you have been investigated on three occasions in the last two years and the conclusion of each investigation rings a recurring theme as Frank Forchione stated: “Rice’s conduct demonstrates a conflict of interest.”

Members of this city council, I am referring to you as well. You, as elected officials are not protecting the citizens of this community from individual such as Tom Rice.

Council, you were bullied, and contrary to your comments that you did not want to continue to put the city through the ordeal of continuing the hearings, the fact is you were really protecting your own personal interests.

I am aware that three of you, Mrs. Kiesling, Mr. Sarbach and Mr. Snyder had already suffered a personal financial burden regarding subpoenas that were served on each of you a few months ago by the mayor’s attorney relating to a parody of a campaign letter circulated earlier this year. I am also aware that there was the possibility of further legal entanglements for you regarding that issue.

I believe that some people on this council think that they can reduce their personal exposure to further legal action from Tom Rice by suspending the hearings. Something of a quid pro quo you might say.

This council was intimidated with the threat of legal action for themselves and you, as a group, gave in to a bully to save yourselves. Gutless and spineless on your part. And where do you think this leaves you now as councilpersons. At the mercy of Tom Rice!

Tom Rice, you are the bully!

You have hidden behind a high-priced attorney because you cannot explain your actions regarding any of the charges made against you. Moreover, you simply refuse to be accountable.

And since you could not and would not address the charges, you balked at the process that is clearly spelled out in the city charter. All attorneys know that if you cannot argue the facts of the case, you attack the process. And that is certainly what you did.

Months of pleadings, first before the court of appeals and then the common pleas court, and you could not prevail with your arguments in the courts. These legal actions on your part resulted in increased expenses to the City of North Canton

And again, all attorneys know that if you cannot dispute the facts of the allegations and you cannot dispute the process being used to air those facts, then what is left but to disparage and discredit the witnesses to those facts. And that is exactly what you did until you brought the process to its knees.

Tom Rice, you made a mockery of this city, the city charter and the public hearings. The hearings are that, simple hearings mandated in the city charter to allow a public official to explain his actions. And you chose not to explain your actions.

Mr. Rice, I truly hope that you made a videotape of the public hearing, because those videos would make excellent training tapes for the Johnnie Cochran School of Law.

Mr. Rice, David Held was your selection for city administrator. Mr. Held had no previous experience but that was your best pick to run the City of North Canton. Maybe with a little seasoning and professional guidance, he could have grown into the job.

But Mr. Held’s testimony made it clear that you did not provide professional guidance. What you did provide was ample amounts of intimidation and fear not only to your hand-picked city administrator but to city employees as well.

Your threats were also documented in Forchione’s report released earlier this year. (quote) “This phrase ‘tell the employees that they work at the pleasure of the Mayor’ appears to be a common threat in the Rice Administration. Several Department Heads (who asked not to be named for fear of their job) note that this was raised often by Held and Rice when they provided opposing opinions to Rice’s position (unquote)”.

The newspaper coverage of the allegations against Tom Rice and of Rice’s efforts to thwart public hearings have been covered by two newspapers, the Beacon Journal with a Sunday circulation in excess of 185,000 and the Repository with a Sunday circulation slightly over 90,000.

Each newspaper has had access to the detailed allegations that I provided the Stark County Prosecutor and each paper has reported on the events leading up to the public hearings and yet the Repository Editorial Board has not expressed the slightest bit of outrage over the actions of Mayor Tom Rice. The Repository has written ten editorials and the Beacon Journal has written two editorials.

Do Summit County and the City of Akron expect a much higher level of ethical conduct from its elected officials than what is expected here in Stark County or does the Repository Editorial Board have a vested interest given their past endorsement of Tom Rice in the fall 2003 election?

In a May 18, 2004, Beacon Journal editorial titled “Public and Private,” the Beacon Journal Editorial Board begins by saying (quote) “North Canton Mayor Tom Rice should find little comfort that an investigation into his conduct of city business did not uncover any criminal activity. The investigation and report by Frank Forchione, the Canton city prosecutor, was hardly complimentary, suggesting at best that Rice has displayed a cavalier attitude toward mixing his personal affairs and public actions (unquote)”. The editorial continues on stating (quote) “More troubling, this is the second time around that Forchione has raised ethical concerns about Rice’s conduct (unquote).”

On September 26, 2004, the Beacon Journal editorial board ran their second editorial titled “Nasty in North Canton” and suggested that (quote)“…the city is not served by Rice’s continuation in office without public acknowledgement of his ethical blindness. The best course would be for Rice, for once, to put the city’s interest ahead of his own and step aside (unquote)”.

Tom Rice, you do not have the moral fiber to fill the shoes of mayor and you should indeed step aside!

If this council is going to comply with its own charter and deal with ethical violations of Tom Rice that continue to mount, seemingly at the “pleasure of this mayor,” why is it that an admonishment as recommended by The Ohio Ethics Commission over a year ago and a public reprimand as suggested by the Stark County Prosecutor earlier this year were not forthcoming?

And Mr. Snyder, I do not care to hear a recital that this council cannot reprimand the mayor. If you are so inclined, you can accomplish that in some manner. If needed, a discussion with the Stark County Prosecutor can guide you.

Finally, there was an editorial in yesterday’s Repository regarding the public hearing in North Canton and it was titled “What did we learn?”

I think what I learned from all this is that the City of North Canton has a mayor by the name of Tom Rice who has repeatedly violated the public’s trust and when discovered for the man that he is will continue to unapologetically put his interests ahead of the public whom he promised to serve.

Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Expenditure of North Canton City Funds for a Sign at the Akron Canton Airport

Prepared Comments Made To
January 10, 2005

I would like to address my comments to this council regarding the recent expenditure of funds to place a sign at the Akron Canton Airport and ask how anyone thinks this expenditure will generate any financial return on investment for the City of North Canton.

Yes, North Canton is a nice place to live. That is why we all choose to live here. But so are thousands of other communities throughout the United States.

When a business spends money for advertising, central to that expenditure is a product or service that is being sold. And in the sale of that product or service, the advertiser will recoup the cost of the advertising expense when a product is sold or a service is provided.

The Repository reported last Wednesday, January 5, 2005, that $40,000 was being spent from the city’s economic development budget for a sign and promotional materials at the airport.

Mr. Miller, I would like to thank you for taking the time to draft a letter to me detailing the various expenditures that have been made to date regarding this promotion. But for some reason, your figure of $1,600 ($900 deposit & $700 for first quarters rent on the sign) does not accurately reflect the full sixty-month costs to lease the sign location at the airport.

I talked to the advertising firm, INTERSPACE, that handles the advertising at the Akron-Canton Airport and learned that the contract for the airport sign is for sixty-months at a monthly rate of $300. This will result in a cost of $18,000 just for rental space for the sign at the Akron-Canton Airport.

How will North Canton recoup the expenditure of funds for this sign?

What is it, exactly, that the City of North Canton is selling? Is it selling the fact that people could come to North Canton and have a burger at Swenson’s on North Main Street or get their car washed at the SuperWash on East Maple Street?

If this sign does result in increased retail activity such as this, will this generate enough income to the City of North Canton to offset the $40,000 in advertising expenses that have been expended?

If this expenditure of $40,000 could increase the number of well paying jobs and commercial businesses for the City of North Canton, the next question is, where would
you locate any new business that desires to be in North Canton?

I am familiar with the loss of two North Canton businesses in the last year or so that left the city because there was nothing available in the city to accommodate their needs.

One of the businesses was a small manufacturing facility that was lured away from North Canton because they had outgrown their facility and there was no suitable facility to move to in the city.

(An interesting side note is that the owner of this company told me that he was unable to get anyone from the City Hall to assist him when he called to inquire about relocating his business within the city. This business owner, who had operated in the city since 1980 also said that North Canton was anti-business. This business has moved out of the city and along with it, nearly thirty jobs.)

More recently, North Canton lost another business that had operated in the city for the last six years and was forced out of its facility on North Main Street by the landlord. This facility was Stark Security, owned by former Canton Mayor, Richard Watkins. Although, former Canton Mayor Watkins wanted to remain in North Canton, no suitable facility could be found. Stark Security has recently relocated its business out of the city.

North Canton has no industrial park or office park. There is no land for development that will bring substantial numbers of well-paying jobs to the city. So, I have to ask, how will the expenditure of tens of thousands of dollars for this sign at the Akron Airport pay for itself?

In my conversation with INTERSPACE, regarding airport advertising, I discovered that the only other municipality that has signage at the Akron Canton Airport is the City of Akron. Why does the City of Canton not have signs at the airport?

Do you think the City of Canton is missing out on a great venue in which to present itself to the public or do you think Canton feels that funds expended in this manner are not cost effective? Everyone knows that Canton has plenty of facilities available for development, unlike North Canton.

Many communities in Stark County have both land and/or facilities begging for new business but apparently they do not believe it is cost effective to place a sign at the airport.

What will the expenditure of these funds bring to a city that has no acreage for development?

It looks as though you are spending public monies for pie in the sky as you wish on a star that something miraculous will magically restore the thousands of jobs that have left North Canton along with the Hoover Company.

All of this time and money, spent for a “Lovely Image” when the businesses you already have in North Canton are being ignored. I visited with businesses when I was a councilman and the first thing they would tell me is that I was the first person from the city to ever meet with them.

Mayor Rice, I would like to know what you do as mayor to retain existing business and what you do to attract new business and jobs to North Canton. And, I do not mean more part-time car hops, or part-time gas station clerks or part-time car wash attendants.

Mr. Dick Fano, the owner of Aero Tech as well as Laura’s, has been begging for relief from sanitary and storm sewer damage for years for his two businesses on North Main Street. As a councilman, I saw residents come to this council begging for relief and asking for assistance from similar damage. I personally know of residents who have left this city because of flooding issues along the Zimber Ditch.

The $40,000 that you are literally throwing away would have gone a long way to shoring up Mr. Fano’s economic ties to this city and shown him that this city does care about his business and what his business means to this city.

If residents were provided timely assistance from flood relief when requested recently, they too, would feel that North Canton values their contribution to this city’s tax base.

North Canton has many infrastructure issues: inferior water lines that affect water quality and fail to provide adequate fire protection, flooding from major tributaries that have been ignored, and sanitary and storm water problems that plague many areas of the city.

Creating a “Lovely Image” as the Repository calls this campaign does nothing to correct any of these problems that affect residents and businesses alike.

What makes this expenditure even more absurd is the fact that the money expended for the airport sign must come from the city’s carryover which has declined precipitously in the last three years.

The funds expended on the sign at the Akron-Canton Airport simply accelerate the depletion of North Canton’s cushion against declining revenues, and provide nothing tangible in return.

Lastly, I would like to point out to everyone that the North Canton Chamber of Commerce already has promotional literature at the Akron Canton Airport. This is their latest publication.

It would seem to me that the sign at the Akron Canton Airport is a duplication of the Chamber’s efforts.

In addition, Walsh University also promotes North Canton with its presence in the community. This is one example of their literature that is passed out in their efforts to enroll new students.

Each of these organizations does an excellent job promoting community development.

What North Canton needs is Economic Development and that will require more than a pretty sign!

Thank you
Chuck Osborne