It’s Time to Contribute and Help Barberton

Being part of a community is more than juts living there. What makes a community better is the people! The people are the very foundation of every town. It is our job as citizens of Barberton, Ohio to make our home safer. By being active in the community our town will only get better.

Where to start?

The biggest way for the community to step up here in Barberton, Ohio is to be active. I know the saying “See Something, Say Something” is used all the time but it holds true. Many times I see people want to complain about something but then do nothing to change it. I am here to tell you that no matter what it is, we the people and as individuals have the ability to make change.

Report Drug Activity / Dealers Anonymously

I see and hear it all the time. Someone will say that there is a drug house or activity. The issue is that most of the time is just talk. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. We have a huge drug problem in Ohio and we need to help those that need help and rid the people who enable it. Visit the link below to report illegal activity without outing yourself.

https://local.nixle.com/tip/city-of-barberton/

Be the Change You Want

Often times, government wants to say the header but alienates individuals when doing so. I am fed up with the drug issue and I am not scared whose feelings I hurt. There needs to be something done about it. Addicts are not bad and need help. The people who need to be put away are the dealers, suppliers, and the enablers. Stand up and report drug problems.

Helping others that are in a time of need is rewarding. I get the same “high” helping someone as I did on the battle field in Iraq. Being generous and doing the right thing one-act at a time will make Barberton better. We will grow and be known for good. Remember, the people are what Barberton great.

I am compiling a packet of information in the coming weeks to help you help others. Stay Tuned!

All But Two

Today I write this blog with a little bit more information and confidence than I had yesterday. Once again, I will have another blog post about the city’s future acquisition of 425 Hopocan Ave, Barberton Ohio 44203. I realize that this topic is old news to a few so I will keep this as brief as possible but still try to present the facts as I know them.

During the Barberton City Council Meeting June 11, 2018, the Police chief, Judge fish and others were invited to answer questions. This was a move to provide anyone with questions to clear the air about the property purchase. After the council meeting last week, something had to be done to make sure questions and details were presented factually. Judging by the tone of some officials, this was a nuisance to them and they obviously did not think it was needed. I feel, that if this information was presented in this manner to begin with, this would have just been another day in the City of Barberton.

If you follow this blog you would have seen my last blog post found at https://www.justin-greer.com/2018/06/05/can-we-get-some-straight-answers-please-city-of-barberton-justice-center/.  Once again, this was because there was some very serious concerns about what was happening. From my point of view and many others, either of two thing was going happening.

  • The city was not being transparent about the entire thing
  • The city has no clue what was going on.

Either way, it did not look great and as a citizen I was concerned about deals being made and not even Mayor Judge understood it. I give the Mayor a break from time to time because there is a lot that is going on in this town but this was something that he should have been on top of.

So here is the deal in a nutshell

The court has funds for specifically purchasing and helping with anything the courts need. This includes land and buildings. Since the courts CAN NOT purchase land on their own behalf, they need someone else to do it for them. In good faith, the courts know that the Pit Stop is a great location for a new Justice Center and have tasked Barberton to handle the transaction. The question I guess then is, Why are we paying them back for the land and why don’t we just buy it ourselves? This is a question that quit honestly I did not think of until this morning but I will be reaching out to ask here today.

The chief of police did secured a $400K grant that will be used for surveying, ground testing and other needs prior to building. I am not sure if this is enough money for much but it will start the process and at least help.

The Title, oh the Title

So far we have heard from courts in great detail about why and how they plan to help with the movement forward. We have heard the concerns of the council as well as some citizens. There is still two people we have not heard from.

  • The Mayor
  • The Pit Stop Owner

Be it coincidence or just convenient timing but the Mayor and the Planning Department were not present to answer any questions directly. I feel conformable mentioning the Pit Stop owner because he reached out to me and agreed to talk about parts of the deal and how we as a city and him got to the step we currently are. I should have more information from that side here in the next couple days.

Closing

All in all, the purchase of the Pit Stop properly can be a good thing and I personally think it is. We can use that property as a prime location for expanding our downtown area. I support the purchase of 425 Hopocan Ave but I just wish there was more transparency. Most official responses are tethered with a tone that feels like you are doing some thing wrong.

I try to keep the information as accurate as possible and expect to have some pushback due to numbers and information being a personal decision at some level. This allows me to see where strings are being pulled and controlled. If you feel that any information is wrong, contact me. Show me the numbers and prove me wrong. I own all information and correct anything that is inaccurate.

 

Can We Get Some Straight Answers Please – City of Barberton Justice Center

Barberton currently subsidizes ~$300k with a contribution from the court to the note of ~$500k. If the Courts pull its generous funding then the city must subsidize around 800k a year. That’s right! We will be on the hook for $800k – $850k / YR before the new justice center is even built! Since the court provides us money out of the kindness of their heart, I am NOT going to count this money just in case they ever pull it.

More than a year ago the outgoing finance director estimated that a loan for $15 million would cost the city $1 Million a year with interests. This would put the city and it’s residents on the hook for $1.3 million a year and possibly $1.8 million if the courts stop contributing. This is a new additional cost on top of our current burden as tax payers. I just don’t see $1.8 million in addition to our already crippling debt being anything but bad news for the city.

I will say this, after the conversation I heard, I became frustrated and confused because not one person including our Mayor could give a straight answer. I normally can see through the political BS when it is spoken but last night was a glimpse into something different. This was not just a smoke screen of information, this was our local Government and Mayor stumbling when asked direct questions about money, where it is coming from and who is paying.

Cities and Courts are not made to make money

Mayor Judge

Hey Mr. Mayor! I understand cities and courts are not made to make money. This does not mean they are made to burn it. A city whether people like it or not is a non-profit BUSINESS and should manage their funds accordingly and ALWAYS be looking to make money or lose as little as possible.

The statement was not from directly from him but rather repeated as he was making a point.

What about the argument that the courts will bring new/more income?

Currently the income taxes generated by the courts are around $30k. The Courts voluntarily contributing $500k a year as well. According to the Mayor of Barberton and his agreed upon views, cities and courts are not meant to make money. Let’s consider any income made from the justice center void at this point. Let’s say we can increase jobs/income taxes to $100k as well as take on the ability to house more cells. This is a drop in the bucket compared to the bigger picture. I am not a finance person nor a mathematician but where the heck is this income going to come from?

Here is the kicker!

First,  I want to apologize for being COMPLETELY wrong about the purchase of the Pit Stop. As the draft was and currently still is written, the courts are paying for this property. I would like to point out that no where in the ordinances nor papers/packets given to the public did it say anything else.

The article I am referring to can be found here.

So are you ready for this?

The courts are loaning the City of Barberton and we are paying them back with a matching grant ( no one could answer this at the time of the meeting). We as a city are purchasing this property! The purchase is just being done in a way where we do not have to front the money out of the general fund first. Due to the way some grants work, you have to spend the money to apply to be reimbursed. We do not have this money lying around. The courts stepped up to purchase it with the intention of being paid back. I would like to apologize for correcting people with false information that was presented by our city officials.

This information was brought to light by the At-Large City Council member Mrs. Debevec. She felt that this was information the citizens of Barberton should know. She outed the entire process using direct questions. She also expressed concern about the numbers and if Barberton could truly afford the venture. With actual finance numbers in hand (no one else bothered to check these numbers before) as well as loan projections she started asking questions. I will say this, I was disappointed in the lack of information and the attempt to keep this under the radar unintentionally or intentionally. Mrs. Debevec made copies of her findings. ONLY one other council member took a copy to review while these questions where being asked.

This is Our City

Statements made by certain Council people the last few weeks now strike me as yet another move that disenfranchise the citizens of the City of Barberton. One council person even hinted that it did not have not go 3 readings because it was not public money. NOW we find out that this will in deed be public land. I find it very disturbing and should DEMAND answers and especially 3 readings.

The common response for any questions regarding this is that this is only the first step. I agree with that but give the citizens a break and do the homework. Can the city truly afford this with our current financial situation? NO.  ABSOLUTELY NOT. Just to prove this, the City of Barberton had to use $800k of its emergency funds as part of their budget (same meeting). Grants to operate will not cover the $1 million+ /yr price tag of the new justice center.

CLICK HERE to hear the audio of Mrs. Debevec ask questions.

We need to stand up! We need to ask questions so things like this do not skirt the charter rules. People need to be held accountable for their actions good and bad. Join me at the council meeting every Monday. Let’s work together on improving our city and not be pushed around like mindless pawns in an egotist government.

Barberton City Schools, Quality and their Security

With our schools security at the top of most people’s minds lately, everyone seems to have a solution that will make them feel better about our children’s safely. There are cravats with any solution presented but that does not mean they will not work. So in the blog post I wanted to just write about some of my feelings regarding Barberton City Schools, Quality and their Security.

What to know about Barberton City Schools

I have lived in Barberton my entire life and I have always seen Barberton City Schools as a good establishment. Even as an adult I think as a community our schools have become a place to be proud of. I talk to many of the staff and administration all the time. I attend just about every public meeting and even speak to the children as a volunteer for Junior Achievement. If you were to ask me how I would rate the Barberton School District, I would answer with an “A” and a thumbs up.

I know my take on the Barberton City Schools is bias since I am involved and I see all the hard work put into teaching our children. With this said, I am also a realist and I know we NEED to improve. According to the State of Ohio (http://reportcard.education.ohio.gov/Pages/District-Report.aspx?DistrictIRN=043539), Barberton is not doing so hot. This can be debated but the numbers do not lie. Compared to our surrounding communities, we are just above the bottom of the list when it comes to quality.

Barberton City Schools Security

Oh, this is a hot topic. Everyone has a plan and suddenly became experts in security and statistical data overnight. Me personally, I do not fault anyone with strong opinions about this topic. As a parent with two children in the Barberton City Schools, I too have strong feelings on what I think will make our schools safer. There is one thing we all need to remember. There is no single thing we can do beside making our school a police state. We need to be real with ourselves and truly step outside our egos and talk.

All of our schools have an armed guard that roams the halls, etc. These are our resource officers. I made it a point to meet each one of them. They are truly amazing community members. Along with the resource officers, our schools have a security system that the police have direct access to. Each school trains using ALICE drills so that are children and teachers along with other staff know how to react to an active shooter. These few things are just an example of the what our City does to make our schools safer. Are our schools doing all they can? I think so. Can the security be improved, ABSOLUTELY!

The latest breach in security

With all our schools do to provide security, there are weak points in the plan. On April 19, 2018, a woman entered the High School and undressed in a restroom. This happened after the schools had locked the entrance doors to start the school day. As a Security Consultant and a Combat Veteran, I know that even the tightest security can run be breached. This breach was an example of a student letting the woman in a side door. The vulnerability was a person breaking protocol. This is often the case when things like this happen.

Fortunately and unfortunately, this can be fixed but was never addressed at the beginning. The schools system had educated themselves and the children on security but failed to enforce the issue when it came to where people can exit the building. There needs to be multiple exits to the building in case of an emergency so blocking these doors are not an option. I would suggest making them fire exits only and placing alarms on them. Restrict daily exits to the main entrances of the building during school hours and have a plan in place when an alarm is tripped.

Active Shooter Security

There has been a lot of heated debate about how we can limit people from taking guns into schools. Some of the ideas are proactive like placing metal detectors at the entrances of the schools. Another idea is more reactive and a deterrent and that is to arm teachers. Many other idea’s like placing veterans at the schools is a cool idea but is novelty and just a talking point that caters to a base and ratings.

So what do we do about this? Honesty, I will take some flashback from what I am about to say but this is my blog and my platform. Everyone talks about solutions that they feel will protect our children. Little to none of the people suggesting anything have any background in security and simply see their ideas with tunnel vision. I think we need to have conversations about this but when I say “we“, I mean the society as a whole. This stuff is best left to the professionals. I understand the strong feelings involved but emotions and ego are blinding and should never be in the equation.

Conclusion

I suggest that each parent and concerned citizen step up and talk to our children, be batter guides for our youth. We should be in communication with the schools and attend public meetings. We need to get involved more. This will help us understand the issues better and see the picture more clearly.

 

 

425 Hopocan Pit Stop Barberton

Barberton’s Pit Stop Purchase

UPDATED POSTED: CLICK HERE FOR FOLLOW UP TO THIS POST

If you have been paying attention at all with local politics, you more than likely have seen the something about the City of Barberton purchasing the Pit Stop property at 425 W Hopocan Ave. This property sits almost of the corner of Wooster and Hopocan Ave. During the May 21, 2018 City Council meeting, Judge Mckenny pled his case why Barberton needs to build a new courthouse. Judge McKenny also had a strong reason why the police station should be there as well. 

You can listen to the audio recording of the meeting in its entity by clicking here.

I have seen a few questions ask around this purchase and some are legit. The big one to date so far is why is the city paying for $300k for a property that was purchased for $100k just a few short years ago. Here is my opinion on the current purchase price. The sale is being made by a private seller and he can ask whatever he wants for the property. If the city came to me and said they want to buy my home, I would say they can have it for $300k even if it is worth $100k.

So where is the funds coming from for the purchase of the Pit Stop in Barberton?

This is a great question! Over the past decade, the courts have paid into a court fund for this specific reason! I Just want to be clear, to my knowledge, this money was gained through court fees and not fines. Some may ask why this even matters and I will happily answer that. If the funds came from money collected through fines, it would fall in a public fund. This would mean that the city would have to go through the process of using public funds to make the purchase. Currently, the funds for the purchase of the property is coming from a special court fund and not public money.

We will be paying for the buildings, Make no mistake about it.

Purchasing the property is just the first step. When it comes to building on the property, we will be fronting a large portion of the bill. When I say we, I mean the tax payers. There are a lot of grants being applied for to help fund the project. At this point just how much the this project will cost the tax payers is unknown.

Interesting Information

Below are some things that I found interesting but may or may not be related to anything. That the information for what it is,

  • In 2011, Jane E Judge owned the property for $165k.
  • The property was sold for an undisclosed amount in 2014
  • The seller of the property currently is the same owner of JoJo’s drive-thru and has filed to be rezoned at the same exact time the city is paying 100% more than the property on Hopacan is worth.