Mayor urges a 'yes' vote for annexation
To the editor:
On Nov. 2, the voters of Salem will have four issues to consider on the ballot that concern the City of Salem specifically. While the tax issues have been getting a great deal of attention, I would like to encourage the voters to vote "yes" on the issue of accepting the annexation of close to 100 acres into the city of Salem. Your approval of this issue will allow this land to become part of Salem. This issue has been approved by not only the original land owners, but by Salem City Council, the mayor, the Columbiana County commissioners, and the Columbiana County Common Pleas Court in a ruling by retired Judge David Tobin.
The landowners in Columbiana County are Mr. and Mrs. Ned Chappell and Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Meals. They are both longtime Salem area residents and wish to see their land annexed for future housing development. As Salem's economy improves in the future, this land will provide a needed housing tax base for the Salem community.
As you know the land in Mahoning County consists mostly of land that could be used in future years for economic development. This land is south of the Quaker City Raceway and will not affect the operation of the track. The city has no money involved in this annexation at all, and no tax dollars have been spent on it.
No one can predict what future years will bring for Salem's economy, but I feel sure that the annexation of this land will prove to be a positive decision for Salem in the future.
Please consider voting "yes" for the annexation of the land into Salem.
Observations from a Salem Council member
To the editor:
At city council's meeting on Oct.19, the auditor reported that the city's infrastructure/capital improvement fund balance is $434,000. Having been appointed to the councilman-at large position in August, and after studying city finances, I believe these monies can be spent to meet immediate needs and provide services to all the citizens of Salem. By now, Salem should have a new snowplow, mini excavator, electrical bucket truck, 12" chipper and sewer jet, all items on the service director's four year capital improvement list. Costs of these items are stated as $355,000, leaving a balance of $79,000 for police cruisers.
In 2011, the city will once again have at least another $434,000 for infrastructure/capital improvements by virtue of the 85/15 split on income tax currently in place. (More, if the sluggish economy picks up.) Further, city use of the utility fund interest (never done before this year and possibly temporary) is an example of how to get through tough times, while we and our entire nation are recovering from this recession. Investment interest on the nearly $16,000,000 stockpiled by the Utilities Commission, about $250,000, goes into the city's general fund next year. Combining what the city paid for overtime, as a result of this year's police and fire layoffs, with the $250,000 interest earnings means employment of essential safety personnel.
Last year's defeat of a five year half-percent income tax, strictly for infrastructure/capital improvements, indicates that asking for the same half-percent this year, not strictly for infrastructure/capital improvements, is a huge risk. Another rejection will delay, yet another year, any prospect of street repaving and storm drainage upgrades. The message sent by you, the voters, last year obviously didn't sink in. A prudent alternative for city government would have been to compromise and ask for a one quarter-percent tax increase, generating nearly $1,000,000 in revenue, and again specifying all of that revenue to infrastructure/capital only.
The council president recognizes that benefit packages currently paid to city employees need to be reviewed. On top of their wages, some unionized city employees have an additional 34 percent put into a retirement fund. Do you? With all four city collective bargaining agreements expiring June 30, 2011, I am confident our mayor will negotiate benefit packages in line with those of the "average" Salem taxpayer. Further, to determine how effective and efficient all city operations paid for out of the general fund are, I see a need for city council to ask for and fund a performance audit by the auditor of state. Money well spent!
With passage of the income tax increase, the city will have funding for an extensive wish list, more fully described by our council president on cable channel 9. For the record, I do not agree with any comparison to outrageous tax rates in Youngstown or Alliance as support for this tax. Finally, should this tax issue fail, do not believe all the gloom and doom you may also hear on cable channel 9. My opinion is that the city will survive and deal with infrastructure/capital issues as you, the voters, dictate.
JOHN C. BERLIN,
In response to council member's letter to editor
To the editor:
I have read Mr. Nestic's letter to the editor about the presentation that Mrs. Mickey Cope Weaver gave to the public that was very poorly attended due to the constant news articles written on tax issues.
Mr. Nestic your presentation was by your own statements "your opinion." You dealt in probability you did not deal in reality. It is time to deal in reality, this city is deteriorating before our own eyes. I would guess Mr. Nestic that you have tunnel vision where the improvements of this city are needed. You say mandated programs, yes there are mandated issues in the city infrastructure one is the Ohio EPA Phase II Storm Water Management Program, this has to be paid by the city, the cost for the next two years is between $275,000 and $325,000. Where in the name of heaven do you expect this city to get that money?
We have flooding problems, in the Washington, Woodland and East Pershing area along with East State Street how much longer must the residence of this area lose their furnace, washer, dryers and family memorabilia because of no money to fix the problem?
Our streets are deplorable and decaying as I write this letter, the cost of street paving $4,705,000. This is to do the right job not this haphazard patching here and patching there. I would think that the citizens would want this done instead of having to pay to have their car lined up every time you turn around.
Ninety percent of the equipment in the street department is antiquated. The sewer jetter alone is 36 years old and is in need of replacing. All the 2.5 ton International trucks are deplorable and we will be lucky if they last the next snow plow season. Some trucks have compression problems and if you know anything about mechanics you will know that after awhile they will become so bad they won't even start. There are not many of us who keep a car 21 years, in fact many of us trade our own vehicles off after 60,000 miles. The city is in need of money to replace these trucks, or you may be driving in a foot of snow this year because the trucks are unable to plow due to mechanical failure.
Our police and fire departments also need new trucks and cars. But you Mr. Nestic think that there are grants to be had to offset the monies needed to buy this equipment. Well tell me where you will get the matching funds that are needed to get the grant? You surely can't get it out of the current capital improvement fund because it is very impoverished. Did you know that if there is a fire at the Smith Center that our ladder truck will not reach the top floor? Does this not concern you at all Mr. Nestic? The people that live in those apartments have paid their share of taxes for years and years to keep this city running. Do we as citizens have to sacrifice the lives of our elderly because you feel there is no need for this tax, I think not.
We are being over run by crime and drugs and you are like an ostrich with it head in the sand. You can say we need more police on the streets but yet the minute this tax does not pass you will vote to lay off more and more of them along with the fire department.
I know that you agree with another person in this city that think the fire department and the police make too much money, but they really don't, considering the job they do to protect us. Privatizing our police department would be detrimental to the health and well being of our citizens. Turning our fire department into a volunteer department could cost us our houses and maybe even our lives. You can say that the ISO ratings for insurance will not go up causing your house insurance to rise, but I know for a fact that it will.
Charter government are all well and good and work in some towns and villages but in Salem it would be a travesty. Stop listening to your elite friends Mr. Nestic and start listening to us the citizens.
I work in Lisbon and pay one and half percent tax to their city, I now pay 1 percent percent to Salem because I want to make sure that this city has the equipment and the infrastructure that is needed to bring economic development to our city, which by the way is supposed to be your specialty Mr. Nestic and you have done absolutely nothing in three and a half years but micro manage every department in this city.
It is time for us to raise the income tax a half percent so that we can be viable again, at the present rate this city is stagnant and not moving forward. Please do not let us return to years gone by lets move into the future and leave our children the town that are parents left us a beautiful and viable city. Please vote for the half percent income tax.
Chairman of SOS says vote 'no' tax increase
To the editor:
I recently read the article in the Salem News dated Oct. 13 titled Cope Weaver: Income tax hike essential for Salem's future.
While I agree that the cost of running a city the size and age of Salem is expensive and I do not dispute the financial costs that Ms. Cope Weaver cited, I do disagree with her statement that "the income tax increase is absolutely necessary for Salem's survival as a viable community."
First let me tell you a few financial facts I have recently discovered. At this time, Salem has and end balance of almost $400,000 in the Income tax capital fund. This is enough money to pay for the equipment upgrades and replacements that are needed in Salem today. City officials quoted new snow plow at a cost of $105,000. That would be the most expensive equipment. Is the mayor delaying purchase of new equipment because he wants it to appear that Salem is in greater need than it really is prior to election day?
Second, council recently decided to keep the interest generated from the waste water and clean water accounts for use on city expenses. Wonderful idea considering these two accounts sit at over $15 million. In fact after all expenses those two accounts alone increased by over $30,000 this year. That, by the way, was the average annual wage of a household in Salem in 2008. Interest on these funds totaled at $532,000 in 2009 alone. It was well above $1 million over the past two years and if it had been collected for city use would have generated $2.88 million since 2002. Where was city council while this money was being spent on expenses separate from the city of Salem all these years? Where was the mayor?
When Ms. Cope Weaver, Brett Apple, and Dennis Groves make the statement that "failure of the tax would likely" and "probably" result in more lay offs, they seem to be using scare tactics and guess work. They don't know what would likely happen now that they will have that extra interest money. They also have not had any professional studies completed to determine exactly labor forces that are needed and at what cost for a city the size of Salem. This was admitted at city council during recent discussions about removing the out of town tax credit.
Third, yes, city expenses have risen with inflation but so has the revenue generated by the existing Income tax, even with the tax credit. In fact it has risen almost 600 percent and has risen almost identically with inflation costs.
Fourth, and last, Ms. Cope Weaver stated that the 46 annexations passed by the Salem City Council including Walmart, Home Depot, Pearce Circle and etc. are costing the city money in streets, lights and maintenance. I am sure this is true, however wasn't the purpose of annexing these areas to bring tax dollars into the city? If these areas are not generating enough revenue to at least pay for themselves, why did we annex them at all?
Ms. Cope Weaver and the other ROC members can't have it both ways. Either annexation was a sound business decision or it was a bad business decision in which case, why is city council attempting to annex more land into the city?
In closing, the statement, "We have no choice and we have no money" is absolutely in error. We have the choice to make better business decisions with the Salem residents' money and we have the choice to find out how much money is actually necessary before asking hard working residents to pay more of their valuable resources into projects that might not be in the best interest of the future of Salem. Vote no for the percent tax increase and vote yes to restore the tax credit.
CYNTHIA BARONZZI DICKEY,
Chairman of SOS
Encourages support of proposed annexation
To the editor:
On the Nov. 2 ballot for residents residing in the city of Salem, is a "Referendum on Ordinance No. 100505-24."
The referendum asks whether the application for annexation of certain property be annexed into the city of Salem.
The owner of the approximate 99 acres signed the original annexation petition. The city of Salem agreed to accept the annexation and to provide police, fire and other services.
The petition was submitted to the Columbiana County commissioners who approved the same.
When a land owner wishes to join to the city of Salem, I believe he should have that opportunity and I hope you will join with me in voting yes on the question "Should ordinance 100505-24 proposing the annexation of approximately 99.855 acres to the city of Salem be approved?"
GEOFFREY S. GOLL,
Thanks from a fan to the new Quaker City owner
To the editor:
Thank you to Norm Fox of Malvern for saving Quaker City Dragway. I grew up in Salem, and have moved back a few years ago and many things have changed, but not everything. That one thing was the rumble and tire smoke of that great lighted beacon of hope for gearheads like myself.
When I would come home from Cleveland or Akron to visit seeing my parents was first, Quaker was second. I often came home from college or work just for a race that was coming to the track. I understand that a lot of people reading this may not feel the love of the sport as some of us do. I explain it this way, Browns, Steelers, Indians, Cavs, I couldn't give you one piece of trivia. However I live by big block, small block, nitro, alcohol, Don Nicholson, Arnie Beswick, Bob Motz, and Box-No Box.
I and so many others are familiar with these terms, and this history. I just wanted to say thank you for saving a piece of this towns history for future generations and lovers of this wonderful family oriented sport. My father gave me my first taste of nitro, as did his. Now I will be able to pass my passion of speed to my daughter at that strip of concrete on the outside of town.
Counseling Center board president seeks support
To the editor:
I write this letter as the president the board of the Counseling Center of Columbiana County, an agency which provides mental health and substance abuse treatment services for the residents of Columbiana County. This is an appeal to the voters to continue to care for those whose lives are disrupted by emotional problems or alcohol and drug dependence. This may be you, your family members, your neighbors, or your friends. For 45 years, our services have been here as a safety net in times of trouble.
Many thousands in this county have regained normal lives because they were able to get the help of experienced mental health and addiction professionals. Many lives have been saved from the threat of suicide. Men and women have returned to work after recovering from serious life problems. Children have been able to go to school and live with their families when serious emotional problems were making a normal childhood impossible. These events occurred because the services, and the community, were there in support.
The 1.3 mill mental health levy was first passed in 1985. It is a 10-year renewal levy - no new taxes. It is clear that this community cares for its own. Most of the services made possible by levy support are not easily available except through our agencies. We rely strongly on the support of the community, and we work closely with the community to support those in need. Please join your neighbors in support of the 1.3 mill Mental Health and Recovery renewal levy.
Humbled, amazed by generosity of people
To the editor:
I am rarely surprised anymore by people and what they do; how they treat one another. However, my cynicism has been proven unwarranted as of late. I didn't want to move back to Lisbon and certainly didn't want to stay in Lisbon once I did. I thought is was a small town with nothing to offer me and my family. I could not have been more wrong about this sleepy little town. Recently some very good friends of mine lost everything in a house fire including a few of their family members, albeit animals but family members none-the-less.
Upon soliciting donations from area businesses for a fund raiser Nov. 13 for the Halstead family, I have been so humbled and amazed by the generosity of those in this little town. Times are tough and everyone is hurting but the good people of this town have given generously and without hesitation. Some of the business owners know the Halsteads and others do not but the kindness is overflowing from all of them.
I have grown to love this little town over the years and am proud to call it my home but I have never been more in love with this little town and those who reside here than now. In today's world we are all cynical and untrusting and even a little selfish, however, this town has restored my faith in humanity and the unconditional kindness of people towards their fellow mankind. Thank you so much to the people of this little town for being selfless and caring and willing to extend a little help to those who could really use it.
Donations for a fundraiser can be made until Nov. 12 by calling Theresa Bosel at 330-831-2027.