Monday, November 26, 2007

North Canton's Outgoing Council Muzzled Citizens Commentary On Public Business

Prepared Comments Made to
November 26, 2007

Every two years the citizens of North Canton elect a new city council. As this current membership of council completes its term in office, it is customary to write into the history books the accomplishments and shortcomings of this council and its members.

Given that politicians continually lavish praise and congratulations on each other as they conduct the public’s business and wield power given to them by the electorate, there is no reason for me to add to that chorus.

What I will do is talk about how these outgoing members of council have wielded power, in my opinion, to the detriment of the public during their term in office.

First of all, I feel that the public has not been served by this council with the limitations it has imposed on the public when one wishes to address council in its public sessions. The public wants to address council on the record and not after the meeting or in the parking lot or on the telephone.

This council continues to prohibit public input at Council of the Whole meetings when proposed legislation is being discussed. Why do you fear citizens that you are sworn to represent, from speaking in a public forum on issues that are important to them and the community? Earlier this year, this council further limited public comment by citizens at regular council meetings by instituting a five-minute speaking limit. As a result, citizens can only address this body while everyone watches the clock.

In a concurring opinion from a well known 1964 U. S. Supreme Court case, New York Times v. Sullivan, Justice Hugo Black joined by Justice William O. Douglas stated the following:

“…a representative democracy ceases to exist the moment that the public functionaries are by any means absolved from their responsibility to their constituents; and this happens whenever the constituent can be restrained in any manner from speaking, writing, or publishing his opinion upon any public measure, or upon the conduct of those who may advise or execute it. An unconditional right to say what one pleases about public affairs is what I consider to be the minimum guarantee of the First Amendment.”

I feel that this council has not served the public in another way and that is by failing to provide a conducive atmosphere in which good government can function. This council has repeatedly turned a blind eye to the actions of one of its members and at many times even supported this councilman as this councilman openly and boldly displayed his disdain for the mayor and city administrator of the City of North Canton.

The mayor’s refusal to relent on laws of nepotism last year only fueled the animosity of this member of council. What did this council body do regarding the allegations of nepotism against this fellow member of council last year? This council body did more than just sit idly by and do nothing. This council body united together against the mayor and refused to address the issue of nepotism.

This same councilmember has also designated himself as the city’s sole negotiator and undertaken to negotiate agreements with adjoining townships while publicly telling the administration that they were not welcome in the negotiations.

Why has this council not reigned in a councilmember who is clearly exceeding his authority in placing himself in these meetings?

Why are council members not concerned that many of these meetings have been behind closed doors and in violation of state law?

And this evening, at this council’s last meeting, this council member is attempting to persuade this council to adopt agreements that are highly beneficial to both Plain and Jackson Townships and very detrimental to the City of North Canton. Politics is being placed before good policy if these agreements are implemented and North Canton’s future growth is in jeopardy while other communities grow their boundaries.

If this council’s memory is a little short, let me remind you that the officials from Plain and Jackson Township who are pushing for this agreement negotiated by North Canton’s rogue council member were the same officials who were here in this chamber speaking in opposition to the recall of this council member earlier this year. Are council members blind to what is happening before their eyes?

The North Canton council member who was the subject of a recall earlier this year responded with a defamation lawsuit. This action was not only a detriment to me but to all citizens who comment on the actions of their public officials in the performance of their public duties.

I cannot fault this council body for the actions of this council member regarding the lawsuit. What I can do is quote the concurring opinion of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Goldberg and Justice William O. Douglas in New York Times v. Sullivan.

"In my view, the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution afford to the citizen and to the press an absolute, unconditional privilege to criticize official conduct despite the harm which may flow from excesses and abuses. The prized American right "to speak one's mind," about public officials and affairs needs "breathing space to survive..." The right should not depend upon a probing by the jury of the motivation of the citizen or press. The theory of our Constitution is that every citizen may speak his mind and every newspaper express its view on matters of public concern and may not be barred from speaking or publishing because those in control of government think that what is said or written is unwise, unfair, false, or malicious. In a democratic society, one who assumes to act for the citizens in an executive, legislative, or judicial capacity must expect that his official acts will be commented upon and criticized. Such criticism cannot, in my opinion, be muzzled or deterred by the courts at the instance of public officials under the label of libel."

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, in Whitney v. California said “Those who won our independence believed…that public discussion is a political duty…”
My hope is that elected leaders would do their duty.

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Development Costs Shouldered By Taxpayers Benefit Developer of Waterside Park

Prepared Comments Made to
October 22, 2007

Although I have not attended city council meetings since council came back from their summer recess, I have followed news reports of council meetings and, as in the past, it is clear that council will continue to spend declining public funds wherever it is politically expedient.

Never mind that over the last two years, this council has seen fit to forego staffing positions in the city’s police department as well as other departments in the city. Never mind that citizens have come before this council body asking for needed infrastructure improvements in their neighborhoods. All of those needs were left unfilled as council repeatedly said that the city did not have the funds.

But miraculously, this council has come up with funds to benefit and enrich private interests using the pretext that they are bringing jobs to the city. I am talking about the planned expenditure of $275,000 of public money to assist McKinley Development in the development of Waterside Technology Center Park on South Main Street.

A recent newspaper article stated that Council member Kathy Magel had concerns because infrastructure costs of the project had risen from $600,000 to $951,000. According to press reports, others on council also expressed concerns on the city’s participation in this project. I believe those concerns are just the tip of the iceberg.

How is it that the city could budget $125,000 for commercial development of Waterside Park and then state on numerous occasions publicly all year long that funds were not available to maintain city services or make desperately needed residential infrastructure improvements?

And now, not only can council budget $125,000 to provide assistance to a developer in times of declining city revenues, it can more than double that budgeted financial assistance to the tune of $275,000.

I have concerns about these expenditures. It is on you agenda tonight as Ordinance 126-07 and of course it is an emergency. Clearly council does not want to allow the public the time to discuss the pros and cons of this decision.

I would like to know what additional costs the taxpayers of North Canton are going to have to shoulder to assist the developers of this property. There is a new light signal that has been promised at South Main and Mississippi to accommodate an alternate access to the Waterside Technology Center Park. I suspect that will require more than $100,000 from the city. Further improvements will be needed on Mississippi where the road for Waterside Center Technology center will intersect. Would $200,000 cover that expense?

The public monies going to assist in the development of the Waterside project have now risen to $575,000. Did anyone on this council discuss or acknowledge any further costs the city might have to incur for this project that are incidental to this development?

The grant requires that a majority of jobs in the Waterside Technology Center Park be in the high tech/research and development field. If this commitment is not met, the grant funds must be returned.

The City of North Canton is clearly at risk in this arrangement and could be expected to repay the grant funds back to the Ohio Department of Development. That is a liability to the city of $350,000. Is there anything in writing requiring the developer to reimburse the City of North Canton for repayment of the grant funds if the project fails to generate the required number of technology jobs?

The City of North Canton’s financial obligations for Waterside Technology Center Park are conceivably at least $925,000. This is equal to, if not more than, the stated infrastructure cost of the entire project. Why are taxpayer’s funds being utilized in this fashion?

Revenues for North Canton are dwindling and yet this council continues to pledge taxpayer funds that further the well-being of private individuals. In a related expenditure of public funds a few months ago, the city’s CIC authorized expenditures to purchase a half acre of Waterside Technology Center Park property to expand parking for Abbott’s Bridal Shop.

As you all know, Abbott’s Bridal Shop is the abutting property to the south of Waterside Technology Center Park. Abbott’s Bridal Shop is private business and yet the expanded parking is to be paid for by the North Canton CIC with funds removed from North Canton’s general fund.

McKinley Development, the owner of Waterside Technology Center Park is also a private business and it, too, is receiving assistance at the expense of North Canton taxpayers.

Waterside Park, as it’s been known for years, fronts right on South Main Street. The property has been promoted and marketed for development for years. If the State of Ohio will provide $350,000 in grant funds, why isn’t that enough of an incentive to develop the property.

The City of North Canton does not need and cannot afford to bear the development risks of this property. Developers are duly compensated in the marketplace for the development risks they take. Free market forces must be allowed to play out. Citizens pay their taxes to fund city services, not to have those funds risked for the gain of individuals.

I ask that you limit the City of North Canton’s participation in the development of the Waterside property by assisting in securing the $350,000 grant from the state and that McKinley Development assume all risks regarding compliance with the requirements of the grant.

Financial assistance from the State of Ohio covering one-third of the infrastructure costs for Waterside Park is quite a windfall for any developer. If that is not enough of an incentive to develop the property, then it is not a good risk under any circumstances for anybody.

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

North Canton CIC in Violation of its Plan and the Ohio Constitution

Prepared Comments Made to
July 9, 2007

In the spring of 2005, this council body authorized the removal of $1,500,000 from the city’s income tax fund and deposited the funds into an escrow fund from which annual payments of $100,000 are being paid to the North Canton Community Improvement Corporation (CIC). As of June 15, 2007, the account balance controlled by the North Canton CIC totaled $300,000. Payments by the city to the North Canton CIC will continue annually with the last payment being paid out on June 15, 2019.

Week after week I, as well as others, sit in the audience and hear council discuss how to deal with declining revenues and funding shortfalls for needed infrastructure improvements and yet the funds set aside for the CIC are left untouched.

I have addressed this issue on several occasions before this body and yet each of you on council chooses to allow these taxpayer funds to be used for purposes other than for support of city services as intended.

My message to you tonight is to provide notice that; one, the North Canton CIC is operating in violation of its own Agreement and Plan and; two, the financial support that is being provided to the owner of Abbott’s Bridal Shop violates Section 6, Article VIII of the Ohio Constitution.

I have addressed these issues in a letter to the Ohio Attorney General with a request that any and all financial transactions of the North Canton CIC be frozen until such time as these violations are investigated.

The North Canton CIC is in violation of its own Agreement and Plan because it is currently using funding sources never anticipated when the CIC was set up twenty-seven years ago.

The present CIC Agreement and Plan was drawn up in 1980 by the Cleveland Law Firm of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey and was crafted in anticipation of the issuance of Industrial Development Bonds (IDB). St. Luke’s took advantage of this bond financing on two occasions. The use of industrial bonds imposed no expense to North Canton or to the taxpayers and was a valuable economic development tool for the city. Sadly, city leaders have abandoned the use of bond financing as a tool for economic development in favor of using taxpayer funds. This was a costly move for taxpayers and the city.

The use of taxpayer monies to fund a CIC under the present Agreement and Plan is not adequate and actually puts the city in violation of state statute as Chapter 1724.10 (A) requires that a CIC prepare a viable plan that is approved by council.

In an OAG opinion, 67-056, the Ohio Attorney General states: “…that a political subdivision may not appropriate monies derived from tax action to provide for the maintenance or operating expenses of a community improvement corporation.”

The state statute regarding Community Improvement Corporations, (Section 1724.10 (A)) has a similar statement. “Any such debt shall be solely that of the corporation and shall not be secured by the pledge of any moneys received or to be received from any political subdivision.”

Taxpayer monies have been pledged from the City of North Canton and continue to be received by the North Canton CIC. These taxpayer funds were paid to the city to maintain city services and now have been diverted for a purpose other than which they were to be used.

Additionally, the Agreement and Plan of the North Canton CIC is being violated in other ways.

First, there is nothing in the Agreement and Plan of the North Canton CIC that allows for the promotion of retail development. The Preamble of the “Agreement and Plan” states:

“The Corporation and Municipality desire to incorporate the terms and provisions of the Plan into this Agreement so that this Agreement embody and constitute the plan of industrial, commercial, distribution and research development…”(emphasis added).

Providing added parking to benefit a private retail business does not meet any of the requirements delineated in the CIC Agreement and Plan.

Second, the Agreement and Plan clearly states that taxpayer funds are not to be provided to the CIC.

In Article III, paragraph (2), the CIC Agreement and Plan states:

“The municipality shall not be required to make any financial contributions to the Corporation and nothing in this Agreement and Plan shall be construed as permitting the Corporation to obligate the Municipality except as expressly set forth in this Agreement and Plan” (emphasis added).

In Article III, paragraph (3) the CIC Agreement and Plan continues with:

“All costs of the Corporation shall be paid solely from the funds of the Corporation and the Municipality need not contribute any moneys to the Corporation to meets its costs. In no event shall any moneys raised by taxation be obligated or pledged for the payment of any bonds or other obligations issued or guarantees made pursuant to this Agreement and Plan” (emphasis added).

In Article II, paragraph 5(b), the CIC Agreement and Plan has similar language:

“[The Corporation may] …acquire sites…for lease or sale by the Corporation, provided that any such debt shall be solely that of the Corporation and shall not
be secured by the pledge of any moneys received or to be received from the Municipality, State of Ohio, or any political subdivision thereof” (emphasis added).

The requirements of Article II, paragraph 5(c) were ignored by the trustees of the North Canton CIC when approving the application for financial assistance from the owner of Abbott’s Bridal Shop. This section of the North Canton CIC says:

“[The Corporation may] make loans to any person, firm partnership, corporation …and may establish and regulate the terms and conditions with respect to any such loans; provided the Corporation shall not approve any application for loan unless and until the person applying for said loan shows that he has applied for the loan through ordinary banking or commercial channels and that the loan has been refused by at least one bank or other financial institution” (emphasis added).

The trustees of the North Canton CIC never required the owner of Abbot’s Bridal Shop to pursue financial assistance through ordinary banking or commercial channels before seeking financial assistance from the North Canton CIC.

The specifics with regard to violation of the Ohio Constitution arise as well from the North Canton CIC’s decision to provide financial assistance to the owner of Abbott’s Bridal Shop. In the court case of C.I.V.I.C. v. City of Warren, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that municipalities taking action “to raise money for” and “loan its credit to, or in aid of” private corporations violates Section 6, Article VIII of the Ohio Constitution. The North Canton CIC is an agency of the city and by extension this is what is taking place between the North Canton CIC and the owner of Abbott’s Bridal Shop.

In a OAG opinion, 71-044; the Ohio Attorney General states a that “municipality may not make an outright, unrestricted gift of funds to a nongovernmental organization, regardless of whether or not such organization may be generally engaged in performing a beneficial, public purpose.”

There are grave concerns with regard to the present operation and funding of the North Canton CIC. The Corporation must get its house in order before it can serve the City of North Canton. A twenty-seven year old document crafted for industrial bond financing of economic development projects clearly will not work, legally or otherwise if you are using other sources of funding for the North Canton CIC.

Using public monies to benefit private interests in violation of The Ohio Constitution and state law should raise a concern to North Canton elected officials.

This is not a legacy any of you wishes to leave behind given the financial difficulties North Canton is facing today.

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton

Monday, June 25, 2007

North Canton Tax Dollars Benefit Private Business for the Second Time

Prepared Comments Made to
June 25, 2007

Two weeks ago on June 11, 2007, I questioned before this council the decision of the North Canton CIC to purchase a ½ acre property abutting the rear parking lot of Abbott’s Bridal Shop for additional parking needs to benefit private business. The need for expanded parking at the rear of Abbott’s is the only hurdle to the property owner for leasing 11,000 sq, ft. of office space to the Service and Support Administration of the Stark County Board of MRDD and bringing 70 jobs to the city.

The four-year lease, with an on option to renew for one year will generate $428,450 for Mr. Randall McNurlin. In Mr. McNurlin’s own words before the CIC, this was net revenue. The CIC will be expending $115,000, not including engineering and other soft costs, for the purchase and development of the ½ acre parking lot. These are funds that were removed from North Canton’s General fund and given to the CIC. The CIC will recoup from Mr. McNurlin $1.00 per year over the five-year span of the lease and be left owning a landlocked parking lot with no value at the end of the lease.

This handout of what was once taxpayer dollars to benefit the private business interests of Mr. McNurlin is not the first time the owner of Abbott’s Bridal Shop has benefited from taxpayer assistance.

I call it a part of the city’s genealogical history. Paul Harvey would call it “The Rest of the Story.”

I have learned the following from a search of city records: In 1998, the City of North Canton purchased the property on which Abbott’s Bridal Shop is now located for $180,000 and paid $9,600 to clear several structures from the property. These figures do not include appraisal costs, survey costs and other soft costs required in the purchase of the property. The property consisted of 1.51 acres. The city subsequently sold 1.26 acres to Mr. McNurlin and carried a no-interest note on the sale of the property for him.

The North Canton City Council passed the legislation to sell the property on “an emergency” on December 14, 1998. In city council minutes from the meeting Council member Jon Snyder is quoted as saying “…it’s a win, win situation for the city. And my compliments to Mr. Sumser for putting it together.”

After months of delays on the part of Mr. McNurlin to finalize the purchase of the property, the following comment were made by council members in a council meeting held on May 10, 1999. Council member Tim Morrow stated “…We have—you know there’s a valuable piece of Main Street property…we spent taxpayer dollars to tear this down…."

Mr. McNurlin subsequently finalized the purchase of the property on July 14, 1999.

After Mr. McNurlin received a “moving credit” of $65,000 from the city for business moving expenses, his net cost for the purchase of the property was $50,000. Mr. McNurlin became owner of a “valuable piece of main Street property” for a fraction of its true costs at the expense of North Canton taxpayers.

At the May 10, 1999, council meeting, Council member Doug Foltz is quoted as saying “…It’s a sweetheart deal for him….” The vote by council, “on an emergency,” to sell the property to Mr. McNurlin was unanimous. Is that any surprise?

Yes, Mr. Foltz, it indeed was a sweetheart deal.

How many other business owners would like to acquire frontage on Main Street for a fraction of its costs?

The city used the rear portion of the property, approximately ¼ of an acre, to locate a water storage tank that water distribution studies have identified as a less than an ideal location for a water storage tank.

The poor location for this South Main Street Water Storage tank is due to low ground elevations that have been acknowledged only recently by this administration. I thank Mr. Wise for his candor in this regard as past city administrations have denied there are problems.

As we all know from grade school, water does not flow uphill. Why city council approved this location for construction of a water storage tank does not speak well for their grasp of basic principles of physics. The construction of the water storage tank at this location received unanimous approval from City Council.

The owner of Abbott’s also received waivers for sewer frontage fees and water tap-in fees totaling $5,021.00. Additional zoning variances were given including reduced parking size requirements.

In 1999, the City of North Canton gave Mr. McNurlin a five-year, fifty percent abatement of taxes on the Abbott Bridal Shop property. Unfortunately, the city was not able to provide any documentation as to the amount of taxes that were abated. From the outset, it appears from the records that Mr. McNurlin failed to comply with the terms of the original five-year tax abatement. That abatement was amended to a three-year, fifty percent abatement of taxes. I was unable to determine whether the terms of the amended tax abatement were ever met as well, but as we have seen from ongoing tax abatements, the tax exemption continues whether there is compliance with the terms of the agreement or not.

It is interesting to note that the city also could not provide any kind of estimate in terms of income taxes that have been collected from business activity from this property yet the city was quick to provide estimates of the income tax that would be collected if MRDD relocated to the office space located below Abbott’s Bridal Shop.

In summary, the assistance to the owner of Abbott’s Bridal Shop has ranged from “sweetheart” deals to outright giveaways at taxpayer expense. These actions, past and present, are a blatant slap in the face for North Canton taxpayers who are subsidizing financial gain for private interests. Furthermore, other business interests throughout the city do not receive the same corporate charity that has been lavishly showered on Mr. Randall McNurlin.

At 1280 South Main Street, the business owner has received the following: deep discounts for purchase of Main Street property, waivers of fees, no interest loans at taxpayer expense, exemption of property taxes on commercial property despite noncompliance with terms of the agreements, free use of property and property improvements at the expense of others. All of these giveaways are at taxpayer expense and create unfair advantage between businesses that operate without handouts. None of this speaks well of city leaders who promote the city in this manner.

It is a sad thing to watch the abuse of public monies in this manner.

This is North Canton’s past practice and it continues today. Something is wrong!!

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton

Monday, June 11, 2007

North Canton CIC Provides Illusion of Great Benefits

Prepared Comments Made to
June 11, 2007

The trumpeted arrival of the Service and Support Administration of the Stark County Board of MRDD and its promised seventy jobs is not a windfall for the City of North Canton. All one has to do is simply crunch the numbers as supplied by North Canton Economic Development Director Eric Bowles in his presentation to the CIC Board of Trustees last Tuesday, June 5, 2007.

I should have known that this was a done deal as the prospect of MRDD moving its offices to the City of North Canton had already been announced on WHBC radio days before this CIC meeting.

At last weeks CIC meeting, the CIC Board of Trustees agreed to purchase ½ acre of property from McKinley Development, the owner of property abutting Abbott’s Bridal Shop on the north for $75,000. Mr. Lemmon, the owner of McKinley Development, stated to the CIC Board that the property is valued at $150,000 per acre. The valuation of the property was questioned in the meeting by a trustee.

Why was their no independent appraisal on the valuation of the property? Most attorneys would be on safe ground in suggesting an independent appraisal of real estate before making an offer to purchase.
The city’s Law Director who was in attendance at this meeting made no such suggestion.

While I watched the owner of Abbott’s Bridal Shop, Mr. Randall McNurlin, present his request for assistance to the CIC Board of Trustees, the obvious question to me was why didn’t the owner of Abbott’s Bridal Shop sit down and work out a business deal with Mr. Bill Lemmon, owner of McKinley Development? The property that the CIC will own is landlocked and is of no value to anyone except Bill Lemmon, and, for the moment, Randall McNurlin, who is in need of additional parking to accommodate the prospective tenant noted above.

The proposed development project that was presented to the CIC Board of Trustees was for the CIC to purchase the McKinley Development property for $75,000 and make improvements to the property (clear trees, install drainage and fill, and pave with asphalt) to create additional parking for the building containing Abbott’s Bridal Shop. The cost to the CIC was said to be an estimated $115,000, excluding engineering and other soft costs.

Given that development costs of the property are only estimates and that they do not include engineering and other soft costs, the final costs to the CIC could reasonably total $130,000.

The owner of Abbott’s Bridal Shop will have use of this parking lot for $1.00 per year for the entire term of the lease with no obligation to repay the CIC its costs.

In the initial four-year term of the lease, Mr. McNurlin told the CIC Board that he will receive net revenue of $7.79 per sq. ft. on his 11,000 sq. ft. of office space. This equates to $342,760 over four years.

The City of North Canton is expecting on average for 70 jobs, $34,500 per year in income taxes for a total of $138,000 over the four-year life of the lease with MRDD. The seventy jobs are only promised, not guaranteed.

To calculate the true benefits of this deal, the benefit of the CIC leaving the $130,000 in the bank must be factored into the financial analysis. In this case, if the CIC simply left the $130,000 in the bank for four-years, simple interest alone would increase these funds to $156,000.

Does it make economic sense for the CIC to expend or forgo $156,000 to generate $138,000 over a four-year period?

In addition to the above financial analysis, there is the added risk at the end of the four-year lease, when the owner of Abbott’s Bridal Shop may no longer need the added parking, that the CIC will own a non-marketable landlocked ½ acre parking lot and lose its entire investment in the property.

The bottom line is that the CIC will be out $156,000. This proposed development on behalf of the owner of Abbott’s not only fails to recoup the original costs borne by the CIC, but leaves the CIC owning a real estate asset with no resale value.

Apart from the financial aspect of this giveaway of former taxpayer funds, there are the limitations of the property itself. This property was never designed to accommodate this volume and density of traffic into and out of the property. It will be a horrendous traffic nightmare and compromises safety in every way.

The monies being used in this giveaway were removed from North Canton’s General Fund just two years ago by City Council.

Now these former tax dollars are being handed out, with no demand for repayment, to benefit private business and with no real benefit to the taxpayers of North Canton.

Former Mayor Tom Rice, a trustee on the CIC Board stated that he could not be Santa Claus and was the only trustee on the CIC board to vote NO on the request for financial assistance.

People with clearer minds need to rethink this deal.

We all know this is an election year and we all know that politicians want to provide the illusion that under their leadership positive things are happening in North Canton but at what price?

This is all smoke and mirrors under the guise of jobs for the city with politics thrown in to spin a giveaway of tax dollars into an illusion of progress.

As the old proverb says, “You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”

Financially and economically, there is no gain to the city. This deal simply enriches private business at the expense of the public and creates safety issues and traffic headaches that the public will have to bear.

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Council Contemplates Tax Abatement to Large Publicly Traded Company for Two Jobs While North Canton Taxpayers Brace For Higher Taxes

Prepared Comments Made to
May 14, 2007

My comments tonight deal with an issue I have addressed before to this council and that is the issue of tax abatements and how they are given out simply for the asking in North Canton.

If everyone in this room believes North Canton is such a nice place to live, work, and play, why does this council body feel we have to pay a business to locate here or to remain here?

On tonight’s agenda is the second reading of Ordinance No. 51-07 which accepts the recommendations of the Tax Incentive Review Council (“TIRC”). The legislation is to continue four of the existing agreements granting exemptions and modify three existing CRA agreements. Two of the seven agreement holders received abatements of their 2006 taxes that are hardly worth the time and expense of the paperwork involved. One agreement involves an abatement of $241 and the other $177. Can anyone tell me with a straight face that an abatement of $241 or $177 convinced these two businesses to commit to North Canton?

The agreements for three of the businesses are being modified because they have not met the job creation requirements agreed to in their original abatement agreement. Furthermore, these three businesses have never complied with the job creation requirements of the agreement.

The options available to the TIRC when reviewing compliance with CRA agreements is to either continue the agreement, amend the agreement, or to terminate the agreement. I am sure most people would expect their elected official to terminate the tax abatement of a business that never complied with the terms of the abatement. But that does not seem to be the logical choice for North Canton politicians.

Would anyone in this room be surprised to hear that the recommended modification for two of the businesses is to simply reduce the job creation requirements of the original agreement? This will then bring these businesses into compliance. This will allow the exemption of their property taxes to continue.

If you cannot make the grade, just lower the standards. Is that how it works? Taxpayers can surely sympathize with the plight of the politician. We all know that no politician wants to alienate himself from prospective voters and campaign contributions from local businesses. That just would not be right would it?

One of the abatements up for modification is for Spee-D-Foods on South Main Street. This business also has never complied with the job creation requirements of its agreement. Spee-D-Foods has now admitted that it cannot comply with the terms without liquor sales. Their liquor option failed at the polls last fall and they cannot go back to the voters for four years.

In 2005, taxes totaling $1,731 were abated for Speed-D-Foods. For the tax year 2006, taxes totaling $2,353 were abated. Despite not meeting the job creation requirements, the abatement has continued. The modification being recommended for Spee-D-Foods is to continue the abatement for four years instead of the eight years remaining per the original agreement.

This is just a sampling of some of the tax abatements that have been approved by this council in the last few years and how they are kept alive when they should be ended.

Tax abatements for businesses in North Canton took on a whole new meaning at last Monday night’s Council of the Whole meeting when Economic Development Committee Chairman Jim Repace brought to the table a request for a CRA Tax Incentive for a Sherwin Williams Paint Store on Applegrove Street, NE.

I would like to know if the taxpayers of North Canton are now expected to subsidize a public corporation, traded on the New York Stock Exchange with sales last year of $7.8 billion dollars with an exemption from property taxes. If this is seriously being considered, this council has sunk to a new low.

According to the Sherwin Williams Company’s 2006 annual report, the company opened 120 new stores last year. At year-end Sherwin Williams operated 3,046 stores in North America. They plan to open 100-plus new stores in 2007.

Do you think Sherwin Williams demands tax abatements before the company will open up a store in a community? If they do, I do not think they are a very good corporate citizen.

And I do not think that North Canton should give this request any consideration.

In the twenty-five minute presentation, the applicant stated that the North Canton location was the preferred location. What other incentive do you need? Why isn’t that enough?

How can this council seriously entertain the abatement of taxes for a retail business that promises two & 1/3 jobs? There is growth that has occurred in this city that has not necessitated the abatement of property taxes.

Applegrove Street offers a lot of amenities to a business wanting to locate in North Canton. Utilities are new and accessible. Traffic flow on a new four-lane modern road could not be better. North Canton has good police, fire and EMS services. And all of these services have a cost. And these costs should be shared by all businesses.

In recent months, weekly discussions continue to revolve around funding shortfalls and maintaining city services. How can you resolve the funding shortfalls in North Canton when you offer tax incentives such as these?

Why settle for collecting a portion of the property taxes when the city could collect all the taxes that are due. There are a lot of other businesses in this city paying their fair share and there are homeowners paying their fair share as well. The North Canton City Schools need all the money they can collect and most certainly the City of North Canton needs all the revenue it can collect.

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Negotiated Agreement With Plain Township by Councilman Repace Raises Questions

Prepared Comments Made to
March 26, 2007

I would like to know where in our North Canton City Charter Council Member Jim Repace believes he is authorized to serve as the city’s negotiator in meetings with other local governments or agencies?

This question has perplexed and unnerved me ever since Mr. Repace revealed last summer at a council meeting that he and Council Member Pat DeOrio had been meeting for months in closed door meetings with Jackson Township trustees.

At least one council member was similarly perplexed at a council meeting last summer when Mr. Repace reported that he had been holding discussions with Jackson Township trustees. According to the minutes of the July 10, 2006, meeting, Council Member Lane naturally thought that other members of North Canton City government would be included in the discussions when he stated “…the Administration would have to get involved and so would the Law Director…”

Council Member Jim Repace replied “No… I’m gonna do the negotiating” and then quickly added “with Pat’s help”

Mr. Repace followed this proclamation by stating “[the] Administration is not going to do any negotiating.”

Clearly Council member Lane thought something was a little amiss as he continued his line of commentary on Mr. Repace’s bravado by stating “...I would think, what I am trying to say is, that side of the fence has to be represented as well, I would think.”

Obviously, one member of this council was questioning the role Mr. Repace was defining for himself. It is unfortunate that other members of council did not speak to this issue as well.

Apparently Mr. Repace is confused as to what his role is as a council member because Mr. Repace at this same council meeting stated that his closed door meetings with Jackson Township was “…something that former Mayor Tom Rice had started working on and I just kind of inherited this thing.”

Councilmember Repace, it may come as a surprise to you but you are not the mayor and you are outside your authority in negotiating any agreements for the City of North Canton. Your position as the President of the Hoover labor union does not give you negotiating privileges for the city. That is not your role as a councilman.

Quite frankly, I am more than surprised that remaining members of this council, City Administrator Earl Wise and Mayor David Held have all sat idly by while Mr. Repace overstepped his authority as a member of council and pursued closed-door negotiations with Jackson Township last year.

Does anyone in this room believe for one second that former Mayor Tom Rice, or any previous mayor or city administrator would have allowed a member of council to proclaim themselves as the city’s negotiator? Would any previous mayor or city administrator allow a council member to be the exclusive representative in negotiations with other local governments or county agencies? Not for a minute!

A few on this council have proffered charges against a council member before. This occurred just a few years ago. Why did council show so much concern years ago with that councilmember? Why is there no concern today for a council member who by self-proclamation takes a role that is clearly outside his authority? How can this kind of conduct be overlooked?

Now, after last summer’s failed attempt by Mr. Repace to have city council approve an agreement with Jackson Township that was highly unfavorable to North Canton, Mr. Repace is pushing a similar agreement with Plain Township.

The Repository reported in a June 30, 2006, article titled, “Officials spar over hiring family;” stated “The younger Repace has a job as a general laborer with Plain Township. He started in April.”

Mr. Repace, I am glad your son was successful in securing employment with Plain Township but it does raise questions given the close relationship you have with certain Plain Township officials.

And now, by all appearances citizens would now have to ask if Mr. Repace is now expected to return a favor to Plain Township by pushing a legislative agreement through council that is highly desired by Plain Township and detrimental to North Canton.

The presence of Plain Township Trustee Louis Giavasis at numerous North Canton City Council meetings over the last few months shows how eager Plain Township is to see the agreement passed by North Canton City Council.

Mr. Giavasis has been available in the audience at council meetings to assist Council Member Repace every time this legislation has been discussed. Apparently, Mr. Giavasis is now an adjunct member of North Canton City Council when legislation beneficial to Plain Township is on the agenda.

In a North Canton City Council meeting on January 16, 2007, Mr. Giavasis stated “…the reason why Plain Township is cooperating with North Canton right now is solely because of Jim Repace.”

The public’s business should be conducted in an arms-length manner. The fact that both Mr. Repace and Mr. Giavasis are Democrats and the fact that they are friends should not be the basis for any agreement passed by North Canton City Council.

Lastly, I would like to say that I was dismayed by the appearance of numerous Democrats at a North Canton City Council meeting on January 16, 2007. The list of Democrats included two Jackson Township Trustees, one Plain Township Trustee, the Stark County Treasurer, the Stark County Auditor, and others. These individuals were elected to serve the public not their party cronies. A city council meeting should not be turned into a political rally.

The purpose of a council meeting is to discuss the public’s business. Party politics does not belong in a city council meeting. It is not a place where partisan politics should be staged for the benefit of Democrats or Republicans.

The appearance of the Jackson Township trustees at the January North Canton City Council meeting turned political rally for Council Member Repace makes one wonder if their presence was payback for Council Member Repace’s effort to push a legislative agreement through council last summer that was highly favorable to Jackson Township but equally detrimental to North Canton.

City council scuttled the proposed agreement with Jackson Township last summer.
I urge this council to scuttle the proposed agreement with Plain Township that is before you now. The agreement has been pursued by a council member acting outside his authority. Furthermore, I believe the agreement furthers friendships and not the future of the City of North Canton.

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton

Monday, March 12, 2007

Taxpayer Funds Destined For CIC Should Be Used For City Services as Intended

Prepared Comments Made to
March 12, 2007

Last week North Canton Police Chief Michael Grimes made a presentation to this body urging that funding be made available to allow him to hire an additional patrol officer. Chief Grimes clearly and professionally defined the city’s need to restore department staffing levels in the police department. Council’s response was that the funds just are not available.

For weeks, the residents of Lipton Avenue have appeared before city council pleading that the city make good on promises made since 1997 to fix storm water drainage problems on their street. Council’s response was that the funds just are not available.

Funds are available. There is $1.3 million that is available that has not been disbursed to the North Canton Community Improvement Corporation and I am surprised that there has been no public discussion on using this source of funds, as they are desperately needed.

In 2005, former Mayor Tom Rice asked that council transfer $2.0 million dollars from the general fund to provide seed money to the North Canton Community Improvement Corporation (CIC). Then Finance Chairman and President of City Council, Jon Snyder made the following statements at a March 7, 2005, Council of the Whole meeting:

“…I have reservations about the amount, and reservations about doing it….The city is not in a position to do this….I am against using the liquidity of the city….”

At the same Council of the Whole meeting Director of Finance, Julie Herr, remarked:

“…The figure that is floating around, $2.0 million, of course I have concerns over that. That is almost twenty percent of our carryover….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.”

Then Finance Chairman Jon Snyder subsequently submitted a proposal to fund the CIC for $1.5 million dollars. This funding was to be released in increments of $100,000 per year for fifteen years. The legislation received its third and final reading by council on May 9, 2005, as Ordinance 67-05.

The statements made two years ago by both Mr. Snyder and Mrs. Herr in response to the request to use taxpayer funds to fund the CIC was prophetic. This should be clearly evident to everyone at this time.

The city was not in a position to fund the CIC two years ago as then Finance Chairman Jon Snyder stated. Mr. Snyder, you were correct in that assessment. And without a doubt, the city is not in a position to fund the CIC today.

From her comments of two years ago, Finance Director Julie Herr was clearly looking for some kind of return on the money that she was being asked to remove from the general fund.

Finance Director Herr advised this council two years ago that if the CIC failed to provide results in a timely fashion, then the city would be facing more difficult decisions down the road. Mrs. Herr, you also were correct in your assessment regarding the impact of removing taxpayer funds from the general fund to fund the CIC. Each of you gave your best advice and it was ignored.

The legislation funding the CIC was forced on to the ballot as a result of a referendum and the citizens of North Canton approved the funding of the CIC, known as Issue 31, at the polls in the November 2005 elections.

Contributions from special interests groups totaling more than $13,000 supporting Issue 31 likely influenced its passage. The reality was that the public was mislead on what Issue 31 would or could do for North Canton with rosy pie in the sky predictions. That was truly unfortunate.

On or around December 31, 2005, $1.5 million dollars was removed from the general fund and placed in an escrow account. At this same time, the first $100,000 installment was made to the CIC. In June 2006, a second $100,000 installment was made to the CIC. At present, the CIC has $200,000 in its account and the escrow account under the city’s control has $1.3 million remaining of the original $1.5 million.

The remaining $1.3 million dollars needs to be restored to the general fund. As this council knows and as the public has learned, funding must be put where it will generate the most good for the citizens of North Canton. It does not make any sense whatsoever to continue to bleed the city of $100,000 a year when those funds are desperately needed elsewhere.

Economic development has to begin with a city that provides the necessary amenities that citizens naturally expect. The city must have visible police presence. Without strong safety forces you will not only fail to attract new business, you will likely lose the businesses that you have.

Without strong safety forces, all you will attract to your city is the wrong element as Chief Grimes described in his presentation.

Without a strong visible presence of law enforcement, you will see a decline in the quality of life in our neighborhoods. It does not happen overnight. It begins slowly.

This council’s failure to maintain the needed staffing in the police department is counterproductive to economic development prospects for the city.

I urge you to move quickly to rescind the legislation funding the CIC and recoup the remaining $1.3 million. These funds are desperately needed to maintain both the level of safety forces patrolling our city streets and to make the needed infrastructure improvements for the residents on Lipton Avenue.

What better way to promote economic development in the City of North Canton than providing good police protection for residents, visitors, and businesses and protecting the investment homeowners have in their homes with needed storm water improvements?

Thank you
Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

North Canton City Council Muzzles Citizens in Public Meetings

Prepared Comments Made to
February 26, 2007

I would like to begin my comments tonight with an apology to Council President Doug Foltz, to this council and to the citizens of the City of North Canton. Two weeks ago, I made comments from the audience on two occasions during the Community & Economic Development Committee meeting without being recognized to speak. Mr. Repace, as Chairman of that committee, I apologize to you as well. During the regular city council meeting that followed, I attempted to follow-up my recognized presentation with one additional comment.

I recognize that no meeting can be conducted in that matter and I assure you Council President Foltz, that I will maintain the decorum that is needed in future public meetings at which I am present.

With that being said, I would ask that this council not penalize the citizens of this community by revamping the rule for public speaks in the manner that you now propose.

Citizens of this community have enjoyed the opportunity to attend city council meeting and speak publicly to their elected leaders for forty-six years. From my perspective this has not been a problem?

Since I have had the pleasure to sit on this council as well as in the audience, I think I can say that I have a pretty good perspective from both sides.

Do I think there is a problem with public speaks?

Yes! I believe there is a problem and that problem is a lack of transparency and accountability in the proceedings of North Canton City government that has developed in the last few years.

Having attended nearly every single council meeting since 2001, I can say that the public, for which each and every one of you work, is being allowed less and less input into the policy making decisions of their government.

I hope you realize that this body is conducting the public’s business. This council should understand that there are citizens who care about the quality and quantity of the debate that goes into each and every decision that is made up here on behalf of its citizens.

What I have observed in the six years of council meetings that I have attended is that the public has been losing the opportunity to provide input on public business that is conducted in this chamber.

The public has lost the opportunity to speak at Council of the Whole meetings when proposed legislation is being discussed. The opportunity to speak during Council of the Whole meetings was unimpeded until just a few short years ago. Unfortunately, the public is no longer allowed to speak at any of the Council of the Whole meetings.

There are exceptions made at the Council of the Whole meetings for certain people to be recognized to speak. Residents and nonresidents alike who are in good graces with those in power and who support the favored agenda of council are allowed to speak. Individuals who heap praise on everything their elected leaders do are allowed to speak. The criteria that this council uses to decide who shall be allowed to speak and who should not is obvious to all who attend council meetings.

This is not a rule but a practice that has crept into use in the last few years that muzzles the public and stifles honest discussion and debate. It tells citizens, that your input is not needed. It tells citizens that their elected officials, as members of council, do not care to hear what the public thinks on issues that come before them.

With this gag practice in place for public speaks at Council of the Whole meetings, I regularly encounter citizens who attend a council meeting hoping to speak publicly who are surprised to learn that they are not allowed to speak. They are told that they must come back next week for the regular council meeting.

For most citizens, this is one of the few meetings that they have attended in years or maybe this was their very first meeting. I am sure they are disappointed to find out that North Canton City Government prefers that citizens not participate in their government. And of course they leave the meeting without ever coming back.

The opportunity for the public to speak at the end of a regular council meeting titled “Final Call for New Business” is another practice that is no longer permitted. This is another lost opportunity for the public that has crept into practice and this again muzzles the public and stifles input from community residents.

In council meetings of years past, elderly residents would often come up to speak before the close of the meeting and comment on issues that were important to them or simply offer pearls of wisdom from their years of knowledge of the city. Public speaks at the Last Call for Business is no longer permitted.

What does the continuing loss of opportunities for the public to speak before this council say to the very residents they represent?

Ordinance 15-07 is now before this body. This ordinance seeks to place a time limit on the only remaining opportunity for the public to speak before this council.

What problem are you trying to correct? I believe you are manufacturing a problem to justify your actions.

The out of order comments I made from the audience two weeks ago did not occur during the Recognition of Visitors portion of a regular council meeting but at a Council of the Whole committee meeting. And you, President Foltz, had all the necessary authority to deal with it.

You dealt with it and that should be the end of it.

Why change the Recognition of Visitors portion of the regular council meeting? Is this the legacy that you want to leave behind?

Do you actually want to trample on the public’s opportunity to participate in their government just to stop one citizen?

This proposed change to the public’s opportunity to speak before council would create more harm than good. Surely some of you on this council can see that.

If you were to make changes to public comments at council meetings, the changes should be to RESTORE previously lost opportunities for the public to speak and NOT curtail what little opportunity that remains!

It would seem to me that this council has more pressing issues facing this city to address than limiting the remaining opportunity that the public has to address this council.

I assure you, President Foltz, and all of this council that I will not speak out of order in the future. There is simply no good reason to take drastic measures to further curtail the public’s opportunity to speak.

Do not let it be said that this council continued to allow the erosion of opportunities for the public to speak before this council or future councils.

Do not make this your legacy!

Thank you
Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton

Monday, January 29, 2007

North Canton Taxpayers Subsidize Golf Course Operator While City Cuts Budget

Prepared Comments Made to
January 29, 2007

Last week, in this chamber, I sat through the Council of the Whole committee meetings and observed the results of what reckless spending will do to future budgets of a municipality.

North Canton City Council is now trying to cope with its financial crunch by cutting capital projects, employing fewer city employees and doing less street maintenance.

Finance Chairman Pat DeOrio wonders how the city got to this point financially.

The sad fact in this scenario is that ill-advised spending decisions, over the last few years are, in large part, responsible for the budget cuts now required. Despite declining revenue collections, councils before you continued to outspend revenues. To use the vernacular, the chickens have come home to roost.

I have a list of ill-advised spending decisions made by city officials over the last few years that have robbed this city of its financial vitality and its financial cushion. I will limit my comments to the expenditure at the top of that list and at the top of this list is the purchase of the former Arrowhead Country Club property in 2003.

Four years ago, despite declining revenues, the City of North Canton purchased the former Arrowhead Country Club golf course, now called The Fairways for $4.2 million. Today, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the exorbitant price paid for that property has diminished the city’s reserves and added to the city’s current indebtedness.

The purchase of the golf course property four years ago took $2.0 million from the city’s cash reserves and increased the city’s debt by an additional $2.2 million. That outstanding debt on the purchase of the golf course is approximately $1.6 million.

The purchase of the Arrowhead Country Club property by the city in 2003 was followed by an equally poor financial decision that also impacts the city’s finances today.

I am referring to the sweetheart leasing arrangement given to the operator who now leases the golf course property from the city. The lease terms for the golf course are an insult to the taxpayers of North Canton.

The lease, signed with the present operator of the golf course soon after the City of North Canton purchased the property, provides for lease payments that are a fraction of the costs that a bank would charge for extending a commercial mortgage on a property costing $4.2 million.

I have polled four lending institutions located in North Canton for rates on a commercial mortgage in the last week. They were Wayne Savings, Ohio Legacy, Key Bank and Stoffer Mortgage. The average lending rate charged by these four lenders for a commercial real estate mortgage was 8.13 percent.

Using the average interest rate charged by these four institutions of 8.13 percent, simple math calculations show that interest rate charges alone on a commercial real estate mortgage would result in annual interest charges of $341,250.
Yet, the lease payments made to the City of North Canton for the exclusive use of the 105 acre, eighteen- hole golf course with clubhouse and pool and all the other amenities that go with the property are less than half of that amount.

The operator of the golf course property did not have to secure a loan at commercial mortgage loan rates and pay $4.2 million for the property. The operator of the Fairways golf course let taxpayers do it for him.

The City of North Canton purchased the golf course with taxpayer funds and a private business benefits at taxpayer expense.

Lease payments made to the City of North Canton by the operator of The Fairways, formerly Arrowhead Country Club, have averaged $152,250 per year. And of that amount, the City of North Canton is required to expend $50,000 per year for capital improvements to the clubhouse.

Using the annual interest costs of $341,250 per year for a commercial real estate loan, the City of North Canton is undercharging the operator of The Fairways golf course $189,000 per year.

By the end of 2007, the fourth year of the five-year lease for the golf course, North Canton will have lost $756,000 in revenue as a result of the lease arrangements made with this operator.

The $152,250 annual cost to the present operator to lease the $4.2 million golf course property is the equivalent of getting a $4.2 million commercial mortgage loan for an interest rate of 3.63 percent.

This is substantially less than what North Canton taxpayers have to pay for residential mortgage. Residential mortgage rates are presently around 6.5 percent.

Why have city officials allowed private enterprise to profit itself on the backs of North Canton taxpayers under this lease?

Does fiscal irresponsibility ring load and clear here?

As I noted earlier, the lease also requires the city to spend $50,000 annually on capital infrastructure improvements for the clubhouse and pool for the exclusive use of the golf course operator. So effectively, the city only receives a little over $100,000 annually in lease payments.

The lease of the golf course property under these terms is a complete sellout of the taxpayers of the City of North Canton, plain and simple! The citizens of North Canton get NO enjoyment or benefit from the use of the facility.

On the other hand, the operator of the golf course benefits quite handsomely financially under the terms of the current lease.

In terms of the average annual loss of $189,000 to the city under the golf course lease, do you think that council could find a worthy use for that sum of money?

At last week’s council meeting, Finance Chairman stated that he has spent hundreds of hours looking for additional funds to plug a few of the budget shortfalls. Mr. DeOrio, I have found a sizable amount of additional funds for you.

Could this council find a worthy use for the average annual loss of $189,000 that the city loses under the golf course lease?

Could that money be used to fill a patrolman’s position on the police force that has gone unfilled? Could that money be used to pave streets in the city?

The annual loss to the city of $189,000 under the present golf course lease is three-quarters of the city’s annual paving budget of $250,000.

The lease for the golf course is renewable at the end of 2008. At the end of this first five-year term of the lease, the taxpayers of the City of North Canton will have subsidized the private operation of The Fairways by nearly one million dollars.

Mr. DeOrio, I think you must realize that it does not take too many unsound financial decisions such as I just described to put a community on the path of budget cuts that ultimately lead to reduced services and increased taxes.

Mr. Foltz, last week you said that it would be “…fiscally irresponsible not to prepare for the loss of revenue…” should the Hoover Company cease operations here in North Canton.

Mr. Foltz, you were on this council at the time these decisions were made and you voted for each of these actions.

I would call the purchase of the Arrowhead Country Club and the subsequent lease arrangement fiscally irresponsible. I hope with 20/20 hindsight that you would as well.

Every single person in this room is looking for additional funds that are desperately needed to maintain city services.

I would propose that the City of North Canton attempt to recover the bulk of its investment when it purchased the golf course property by selling the property and retaining the development rights.

The sale of the golf course while retaining the development rights to the property will save the green space from development while at the same time allow the city to recoup previously expended funds that are desperately needed now.

By selling the golf course, the city could recoup, upwards of $3.0 million dollars of the $4.2 million it paid for the property.

The present lease arrangement is patently unfair to taxpayers and should be ended. Taxpayers should not be subsidizing a private golf course operator. Selling the property when the lease expires next year would put an end to a lease that is fiscally irresponsible and unfair to the city and its taxpayers.

The sale of the property would help relieve the strain on the city’s budget by providing an infusion of perhaps $3.0 million.

This course of action would go a long way in showing taxpayers that this council is indeed fiscally responsible and that city council can act as fiduciaries on behalf of taxpayers as they should.

Thank you
Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton