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.

23 Comments on “Can We Get Some Straight Answers Please – City of Barberton Justice Center

  1. Pingback: Barberton's Pit Stop Purchase - Justin Greer

  2. What will they tax next. Isn’t the city courts run by the city. We vote for the court judges. The money from court should automatically go in the city coffers.
    They (the city) should take care of the terrible roads first and’s not like the city jail and buildings are collapsing around them , but the streets are. We (the citizens) should have the right to say fix our streets first . Then if extra money is available , put it aside benchmarked for the new justice center. .just my opinion. Which I think is shared by many. First things first.

    • Hi Frank!

      The courts are not run by the City of Barberton. We are simply a host city which means we get the perks and down faults of having them here. The way the city works is they compartmentalize the funds as budgets.

      So let’s say that the city has 45k for the sidewalks fund and run out of money in the Business Incentive Fund. Government budgets are not like our bank account where we can freely exchange moneys. This is because things like grants, and promises to spend money on certain things. We start shifting money, we could lose any good budgets in the future. To me, this is not an excuse but I don’t know nor do I want to try to understand the bureaucratic process of funds.

      I do think along the same lines as you with extra money. Again though, it is an extremely complicated process. I think it should be tackled though no matter how complicated it is.

  3. Thanks for your hard work Justin. You are an asset t o the community regardless of topic.

    • Thanks Cheryl,

      I wont compare to you guys nor do I try but it’s great to see you on the blog side of things!

  4. What I’m hearing is clearly they do not know. The finance director does not know and this Mayor dances around the point blank questions. Before the property is secured they should have had an blueprint along with estimated cost of real numbers vs speculation and uncertainty. I for one am glad councilwomen Debevec asked these questions open and transparent. We shall see what happens from here. If they do not get this right we are out of 300k in grant money and also a piece of property that we have no idea what the cost would be to develops it.

    • I agree that there should be some real numbers involved along with real simulations to make sure that even in the worse case, the city can survive without a tax burden.

      I will say that the finance director did come out and correct even the Mayor in the meeting. I do think he knows what’s going on. We do have to keep in mind he is not privy to the inner workings of these deals.

      • I can tell the property is worth much more other business or big business wanted the property before the city but someone interfered and caused the contracts to fall apart (Burger King, chipotle, O’Reilly, and other business) so the property is not bad investment, even if city never uses it they wownt loose.

        • Hi Adam, I agree. I do not think the purchase of the property is a bad purchase. It is a great location for any businesses in the future. That is not the issue. How it is being purchase is questionable but more importantly, if the city can survive finically the crippling debt a new courthouse would bring.

          Numbers do not lie. Records are official. I speak the numbers and ask questions.

          Thanks for your comments! It brings character to the topic.

          • What do u mean how it’s being purchased meaning the Grant’s or finding or the process of the purchase?

          • The way that the city will be acquiring your land is by using the courts money then reimbursing the courts through a grant of some sort. This is discussed at the city council meeting last Monday.

      • The property I’d not a bad purchase there was bigger opportunity to sale the property yo bigger companies such as burger king, O’Reilly, chipotle and etc. So purchase of property is not a wast.

  5. Why go out and buy a new motor home what do they need it for when are roads are in bad shape fix them not buy stuff you do need

    • Now that I agree we had our property taxes raised so streets can be fixed witch they never finished that I agree.

  6. Also get some facts corrects property was never purchased under $100k fee years ago, also did u ever consider how much was paid to old business owner when building was purchased, u cant buy a building without buying a business.

  7. U are also a true udiot how can u ask whatever u want when its eminent domain also it was never purchased for under $100k

    • Sorry you feel that I am an true idiot. Anything I posted is gathered from official documents and records unless stated otherwise.

      My goal is to educate and not be intimidated by anyone in this city by doing so.

      • I’ll give u some facts, miss judge didn’t own it in 2014 she sold it in 2009 -2010 $165k plus interest, also the previous owner received money to cut the lease off, then transferred not sold for $100k transferred from private name to a LLC, same owners. Also eminent domain u don’t have a choice one the price u can argue what true value is only, there was a opportunity for it to be sold for $500k to big companies but they dropped it because city keeper telling them that they will do a eminent domain on them also. These are facts now idk were u got yours from, please show me proof were u got yours from

  8. I don’t care who sold what when. The city has no real expense plan to support this project. There already is a chipotle in the city so I doubt they will go there. Burger king is on Manchester road so I doubt they will come here. Adam name calling is not going to solve the underlying issues. The city owns over 381 parcels of property they can’t sell. Those are facts.

  9. Pingback: All But Two - Justin Greer

  10. One thing to consider with the proposed new justice center is the fact that after the 2020 census, we may no longer be the largest city in the southern part of the county. Green will most likely over take us in population. This means that Green could host the court and would be responsible for funding a new court building.
    Contrary to what city officials say, the city does not make money by being the host city. The Finance Dept may show the court making money but all of the cost that are associated with being the host city are not taken into account.
    Maintenance on the City building will be expensed 100% to the City and not prorated and partially expensed to the court. The court will not pay rent or utility cost for the portion of the building they use.
    The large size of our Law Dept budget (over a half million dollars per year) is a direct result of being the host city. A city our size does not need multiple assistant prosecutors. They are here because of the court being located in Barberton.
    We recently saw the City of Cuyahoga Falls let the court move from the Falls to the City of Stow because of the financial burden the Court placed on the city.
    Mayor Judge, unwisely got involved in the Norton sewer debacle and now with the recent change in how cities can bill outlying areas, Barberton will most likely take a financial bath on that deal.
    The new multiple city dispatch agreement has cost the city over a half million dollars per year in additional costs. Another bad decision by the Mayor.
    This justice center project has the same potential for disaster as the recent dispatch sewer deals.

    • You bring up a very interesting point. I have missed looking into the population growth of the county around us. The question would then become, what happens when the courthouse is built and we dump all this money into it and then the state decides to move the host city to Green?

      This leaves us with a debt and a building that really only can be used as a jail and some lavish city offices.

      Thank you for bring this point up. I am very intrigued and what to find out more information about this.

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