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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Vote YES on Issue 29! Stark County Sales Tax

I know that I created this blog mainly as a place to share money saving tips and other strategies for stretching your dollar, but this is important to me and TOTALLY on topic:


Why is this on topic?


Being thrifty is just one strategy for saving money which has become more of a necessity than a sport for most people in the failing economy.  

Think about this:
I am constantly posting great deals, store locations and other money saving ideas on both my Facebook page (Megathrift Tours for Thrift and Consignment) and this blog.  We've all traveled great distances in pursuit of the ultimate bargain that have taken us into surrounding counties in addition to Stark.  When we shop Stark County we are contributing nothing to local government to support CRIMINAL and ADMINISTRATIVE JUSTICE.  We all shop other counties and don't think twice about paying for their local services, why is it a question about ours?   I don't know about you, but I've never batted an eye about paying a sales tax in another county on the bargains I've found there, nor have I ever cancelled my order when I found out how much it was.

Here's what you are paying when you shop elsewhere:

Summit County:  6.5%
Cuyahoga County:  7.75%
Medina County:  6.25%
Tuscarawas County:  6.5%
Portage County:  6.75%
Franklin County:  6.75%
Holmes County:  6.25%

Stark County is currently at 5.75% and is asking for a .5% increase, which will still be lower than most of these counties.

Just as an example, Belden Village Mall (Can you tell I'm not a retail shopper?  I can't even get the name right and it's been changed several years ago) estimates that 40% of their shoppers are from areas other than Stark County.  Another example is the number of people that visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  How much of these types of revenue would relieve us of the burden of paying it all ourselves?

It's a small price to pay and even smaller since we are all bargain hunters!  We won't stop shopping other counties because of their taxes, will we?  If you don't shop much, it's even better.  Let residents of other counties who frequent retail and food establishments in Stark County help us help ourselves.

So here's the scoop:

Of our current sales tax rate, 5.5% goes to the State of Ohio and .25% goes to SARTA.  None of this goes toward Stark County government.  If this levy does not pass, the Sheriff, Prosecutor, Courts, Clerk of Courts and the Coroner will be cut by 40%.  Criminal and Administrative Services constitute 67% of Stark County's General Fund expenditures.

Being a 25 year Sheriff's Office employee (Civilian / Support Staff) I can tell you that this is not a scare tactic!  "Living the dream" as some people like to describe it is more like "Re-living the nightmare over and over again!"  I've been on the receiving end of very nasty Stark County residents who feel the need to remind me that they pay my salary, threaten to vote down any tax support in the future and insist on telling me what I am going to do for them without any consideration of my circumstances.  I manage to keep my composure most of the time, but my patience are wearing thin.  What I really would like to say is, "I know you pay my salary and thank you.  I am very fortunate to have a job in today's economy and am doing the best I can with the tools that I have to work with.  Thank you for your support.  As for voting down any taxes, you have already repeatedly voted down any effort to save this sinking ship which is why you cannot have things your way.   You had to realize that someone would suffer because of your decision, but were you really that naive to believe that it wouldn't be you?
But enough about me!  Let's talk about you:

Here is the plan if Issue 29 does not pass:


The jail will be reduced from 501 prisoner capacity to 122 beds which will result in 379 people in our community that really should be behind bars.

People charged with domestic violence, burglaries and drug offenses being free to repeat their offenses.

Not worried because you have your own police protection?
That's a false sense of security.  Unless your police department houses their prisoners in other locations than the Stark County Jail and uses other court systems, you are still in danger.

Sheriff road patrols will be limited for the approximately 90,000 people who count on them for police protection.   This has been an issue already due to cuts and it can only get worse.

Judges will be forced to release prisoners or not sentence people at all for their crimes against you or your loved ones

Programs to reduce recidivism could be terminated

Mediation programs may be eliminated

Capital (death penalty) cases will be impacted


Will not be able to properly prepare for trial and try felony cases in the 5 Common Pleas Courtrooms
Presentation of cases to the Grand Jury would be delayed 4-8 weeks

Law Enforcement could wait as long as 4-6 weeks to obtain a search warrant which could cause loss of evidence

One of the 3 grand juries could be eliminated resulting in indictments not being timely


Staff would be cut to 2.5 assistant prosecuting attorneys to handle over 5,240 cases such as those that were handled in 2010

Reductions in staffing that normally accommodates 3 judges and 7 magistrates in Juvenile Court

New complaints that could not be reviewed on time and in the best interest of the child as required by Juvenile Rule 9

Attendance and participation at Drug Court and Truancy Court would be eliminated

Special untrained assistant prosecuting attorneys would have to be appointed by the county to prosecute the most serious felonies and serious youthful offender cases, all at an added cost to the county


Will not meet state mandates with regard to victim's rights

There will be no crime victim advocates in the 3 municipal courts, juvenile courts and very limited service in the court of common pleas

Crime prevention and crime programs would be cut

Office Staff work week will be two days

Autopsies will be performed only on cases mandated by law

Families or physicians requesting autopsies will have to use a private autopsy company at a fee of approximately $4,000

Many death certificates will be issued with cause/manner of death listed as "Undetermined" which mean insurance companies may not pay benefits

Death certificates that presently take approximately 4-6 weeks will be extended to 6 months

Comprehensive/Advanced toxicological testing will be cut by 75%; no longer sending out testing if drugs are suspected.  Those cases will be ruled "Undetermined"

Budget will allow for transport of 100 bodies per year.  (The normal case load is 450)  Any bodies in excess of this 100 will be the responsibility of funeral homes and billed to families of the deceased


In 2010, the Family Court held an average of 60 juveniles per day in detention.  Previous budget cuts resulting in a decrease in staff limited this to 35 juveniles on average in 2011


With that being said I am asking you to strongly consider voting YES! for ISSUE 29.  Support Stark County Criminal and Administrative Justice so that we can provide the citizens of Stark County the services they deserve.

If you had to pay for one of the services yourself that will get cut without passage of this levy it would probably cost you more than your contribution through the sales tax.  Be thrifty!  Let someone else reduce your cost for these services.