Brian Massie, Citizen Journalist
Commissioner John Plecnik graciously agreed to be part of our new podcast format so that our readers could hear his concerns and sensible solutions for the financing of a new Lake County jail. We are offering Commissioner John Hamercheck and Commissioner Richard Regovich an opportunity to participate in our new podcast format to get their messages out to the citizens of Lake County.
The Mentor City Council passed a resolution requesting the Lake County Commissioners to rescind the increase in the sales tax. Here is a link to the News-Herald article:
Excerpt from the article:
“During the Jan. 18 city council meeting, Scott J. Marn introduced a resolution on behalf of Mentor City Council to ask the Lake County commissioners to rescind the increase. Marn encouraged other communities to follow Mentor’s lead and express their displeasure as well as adopt similar resolutions.”
LFC met with the Concord Trustees at 6:30 pm on January 18th, and tried to garner support from them to follow suit with the City of Mentor. Although sympathetic to the issue, they could not follow Mentor’s lead because they were promised by the Lake County Commissioners that if the sales tax levy passes, the Commissioners will pay for more Sheriff Deputies to patrol Concord’s streets.
Here are some statements from Lake County residents:
“In 2012 Hammercheck said “raising the county sales tax is a case study of what is wrong with the county commissioners and that he favors a repeal of the increase”
“In this article from Hamercheck’s 2012 campaign, he attacked Aufuldish for raising the sales tax calling it “a surprise to everyone” and then vowed to repeal it. Instead he goes and votes for a bigger tax hike, himself!”
LFC tried to get additional information from the Lake County Administration that, heretofore, has been VERY transparent. We were curious about how the $16 – $20 million in revenue generated by the sales tax increase was to spent. I did not seem like an unreasonable request. The follow is an email we sent to the Budget Director Mike Matas:
Budget Director Matas:
Lake County residents are very interested in the statement you made at the last Commissioners’ meeting, and asked me to follow-up for them with some additional questions for you.
(1) At today’s Lake County Commissioners meeting you stated that increases in county revenue as a result of a ½ % county sales tax increase is estimated to be between $16M and $20M. Could you expound by stating how you arrived at those estimates and what might influence those numbers going forward other that the usual inflationary effects?
(2) Would the county receive a more favorable interest rate if a bond for the proposed new Safety Center were secured by a voter approved sales tax specifically and exclusively for the purpose of funding said bond as opposed to the general fund as the source of revenue?
(3) How much of the estimated $16 – $20 will be needed to fund the construction and maintenance of the Public Safety Center?
(4) What interest rate and term are you using in your calculation to determine annual payments?
(5) Assuming a cost of $171 million, how much cash from the general fund will be used as a down payment versus the principal of the indebtedness?
(6) How much unencumbered cash is available in the general fund?
(7) Would the County receive a better interest rate if there was a CAFR audit done on the Lake County finances similar to what was done in 2007 by the former Auditor Ed Zupancic?
Thank you for your transparency with the Lake County taxpayers,
Lobbyists for Citizens
Here is the response we received from the Prosecutor’s office. Please note that they refused to answer our questions because the questions are technically not a records request. In our opinion, the Prosecutor’s Office is trying to cover themselves because they know that they, and the Commissioners, circumvented the Ohio Revised Code by putting the revenue generated into the General Fund. In effect, they are indicating to the citizens of the County that they do not have the right to know how the County government is going to spend the money. They are our overlords, and we not to question them!
I have reviewed your questions submitted to Mr. Matas below. With the exception to question number 6, it does not appear that you are seeking any public records. The responsive document to question number 6 is attached. If this understanding is in error, please clarify the public records you are seeking.
Michael L. DeLeone
Assistant Prosecutor, Lake County
Here are the facts:
Total Annual Revenue to be generated: $16 – $20 million
Annual cost for repayment of debt for jail: $8 million
Annual cost for pay increases for law enforcement: $1.8 million
Unaccounted for: $6.2 million – $10.2 million
We are getting a loud and clear message from the Prosecutor’s office: Do not question your elected officials. They are allowed to spend your savings and retirement money without giving you a chance to vote on the issue. It is for your safety.
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