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”
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.
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.
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.