The total presentation lasted approximately 45 minutes. Commissioner Todd Doanati laid down the ground rules. (Those were his words, not mine.) There was to only be questions from the council members and the attorneys. For the city, Joe Hunter and for the county it was Jack Quirk. (Mike Quirk abruptly resigned.) Missing from the city council was Mary Jo Barton (no surprise, there) and Mark Conatser (big surprise). If memory serves me correctly, Mark & Linda Gregory were the only council members which were familiar with the Modernization and Consolidation proposal. I don’t remember seeing Jerry Dishman.
Mr. Donati made a point to ask the representative from Crowe-Horwath if the company had enough time to do a thorough job on such short notice. The answer was a resounding YES. Mr. Donati just doesn’t get it. He along with the other usual suspects aren’t listening to their constituents. The problem was not the late hour of the study, but their total disregard and lack of interest on an important proposal given to them June 2010.
In 2006 legislation was passes giving local governments the legal right to consolidate. In 2007, neither city or county took the initiative. A group of citizens gathered over 2500 signatures forcing the hand of our elected officials to move on this marvelous tool. From the passage in 2006 we saw the Kernan-Shepard Report with recommendations that would save our state millions of dollars.
In 2008 the voters went to the polls and we consolidated all of the assessors. Saving over $100,000 and creating a more uniform department. As far as I know, not one single citizen has suffered pain from this first step at consolidation. Countless articles have been written, in fact it was even brought up at the League of Women Voters candidate forum in 2007.
The reason I am giving you all this background is simply to let you know the elected officials have let us down by allowing a good proposal to gather dust for nearly one full year. Certainly with all of the budget meetings, a combined budget of nearly 80 million dollars and knowledge of how the city and county are structured, the commissioners and city council should have been able to reasonably assess the proposal. However, because they lacked the will to do so, at the final hour both entities commissioned a study for $70,000.00.
For goodness sakes. As many times as the resolution/ordinance has been voted on and voted down and tabled and then voted on again, you would think there would be some interest shown on their part when the proposal was finally completed.
But, I digress.
It was hard to follow the financials without having it in your hands. The cost analysis was on a screen and unless you were sitting very close, it would have been nearly impossible to read it. Still, this is what I gleaned from the presentation. I hesitate to put the numbers out there as I can’t guarantee they are 100% accurate. Still, this is what my notes read.
A side by side study of current tax rates. The company used use this to determine what tax rates would be if the sheriff departments was paid for by the unincorporated cities/towns. All Delaware County pays into this budget now. They used the 2011 budgets for both the city and county, took into account debt and revenue to estimate tax rates/levies. (None of the taxing entities such as the library were considered.) City would pay .68 and Center Township would pay .33 more.. For example, because the city taxes are so high now and Perry Township taxes are so low, they would see an increase.
Mayor Sharon McShurley said if the consolidation of Yorktown and Mount Pleasant went through this will increase the tax rate. The representative said that was correct.
I hope to have the video link to post tomorrow.
Now, some of the candidates asking for our vote were at the scene. Jim Arnold candidate for District 5, Murray Barthomome candidate for Council-at Large, Doug Marshall, and Nora Powell.
That’s all, folks. The public hearing is tomorrow night 6:00 PM at the Horizon Convention Center. Expect a media blitz of solid information from the reorganization Committee.