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Two views of the sales-tax issue

Published: Sun, May 2, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Todd Franko (Contact)

John’s a tall guy, and when he walks by, long arms keep time with long legs.

But this past year, it was a long face that seemed to stand out as much, and it was brought about by his concern over the Mahoning County sales tax and funding for his work area.

He’s a deputy, and after the November ballot failure, he was concerned what life would be like for the county if the tax failed the next time around.

The next time around is Tuesday, and that concern that stayed with him throughout the winter months is just as valid — and burdensome — today.

That John contrasts with another friend, also named John.

He lives in the right town in the right home with the right family fueled by the right incomes and the right collection of friends and associations. He’s worked hard for that and has hard expectations.

His expectations are not being met, and that feeling’s going with him to the ballot box Tuesday.

The $13 million sales tax is vulnerable heading to Tuesday, and I feel for the two Johns.

The deputies, who get the biggest piece of the sales tax, also have given up the most in terms of reductions: Floating holidays, hazard pay, uniform costs and more were all conceded, totaling about 20 percent cuts annually, according to our reporting.

But those sacrifices will likely get lost on many voters Tuesday, and instead, the arrogance and/or stupidity of local leaders will resonate. It’s historic and it’s recent:

After the 2007 vote that made permanent the other county sales tax, pay raises were enacted for county employees who were not affiliated with the public- safety needs touted.

In 2008, amid the happiness of holiday turkey, county administrator George Tablack earned a pay raise retroactive to 2006.

In 2009, commissioners blinked first in a fiscal duel with Judge Belinky and gave him the $200K or so he screamed he needed after commissioners told him he was not getting it.

In March, the engineer’s office launched a civil war, and out of that came revelations of take-home cars and the highest hourly wages in Northeast Ohio.

And it continued this week when the county coroner’s office pulled a page from Judge Belinky’s playbook. Amid disputed budget cuts, Coroner David Kennedy laid off one worker, which resulted in idling for 50 hours the coroner’s role in a weekend triple-fatal crash — until office hours resumed Monday morning.

Kennedy’s move was further complicated Friday afternoon when county officials dissected the coroner’s spending so far this year. They found he was so ahead of budget in other areas, that the layoff that caused the bodies to sit was in excess of what was needed. So the laid-off staffer is back on the job.


That fiscal brilliance was needed two weeks earlier when Kennedy first announced his plans.

So instead of costing the county a $35,000 worker, county leaders may have cost themselves a $13 million sales tax.

When you talk to Right John, who’s worked hard and has hard expectations, how do you argue about his money going into the above mess?

But it’s not reassuring to look at Deputy John. When he talks about losing the sales tax, he talks less about his paycheck and more about our safety and the few hundred more thugs who are left to roam places such as the Glen and the Valley.


1exposed(66 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

the Vindicator shows its bias by constantly attacking Judge Belinky. franko brings up the Kennedy debacle by saying "And it continued this week when the county coroner’s office pulled a page from Judge Belinky’s playbook. Amid disputed budget cuts, Coroner David Kennedy laid off one worker, which resulted in idling for 50 hours the coroner’s role in a weekend triple-fatal crash — until office hours resumed Monday morning."

You talk about a blatantly dishonest comment. Out of the blue, Judge Belinky again gets blamed. What playbook? What on earth did Judge Belinky have to do with Kennedy not doing his job?

Judge Belinky and his workers never failed for a minute to serve the public even after the commissioners and tablack unfairly slashed his budget.

I have been told by the sheriff deputies that Judge Belinky is many times the last public employee to leave the Courthouse; not the last judge, but the last public employee. All the lawyers say it is the best run Probate Court they have worked with. Isn't that what we taxpayers should be concerned with?

But the Vindicator keeps attacking him. Why? You could argue that franko and bertram are journalistic hacks and mean spirited. There is plenty of merit in that argument. But I think there is another stronger argument.The Judge is Jewish. The only Jewish public official in Mahoning County. I may be wrong but nothing else makes sense.

The Judge turned around a horrible court in an unbelievably short time, and is a very hard working public official. The Court runs great. And he does it for less than half the funding then Trumbull County. But the criticism never stops.

I love how Judge Belinky has never been a lapdog for the Vindicator like tablack and traficanti. He takes a stand and he pushes back when the cowardly politicians play their petty games. He did make them BELINK.That was great to see those bullies get slapped by the Judge.

I suppose Judge Belinky will next be blamed for Iran's nuclear program, lady gaga, the oil slick in Louisianna, the St. Dom's murder, the tea parties, bertram's past dui's, the lawyer who fell asleep in court, franko's weight problem and the Vindicator's declining circulation.It never ends.


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2author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

'Exposed' sure writes like someone who used the moniker "Local Historian" on Belinky's infamous Dems 17/6 web site.

Funny, how 'exposed' doesn't mention that great county employee that Belinky has brought forth like Lazurus to leech off the public teat, because that employee of Belinky's couldn't get a job picking up trash in a Wall Mart parking lot.

Belinky should stop blaming coverage of the Vindicator about his shortcomings as his own administrator and look in the mirror.

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3UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

The public officials in Mahoning Couinty like Judge Belinky and Doctor Kennedy have been thumbing their noses at the citizens. It's time for county workers including the sheriff's deputies to have their overgenerous pay, healthcare, and pensions benefits cut to match the private sector of these days. They should all be paying their full PERS contribution. The only way voters have to tell them that we do not want their Tax & Spend ways to continue is to say NO to the 1/2% sales tax levy and from talking to my many friends we will be doing that.

Vote NO on Tuesday!

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4exposed(66 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Of course no one answered the question.

What on earth did Judge Belinky have to do with Kennedy not doing his job?

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5SkyKing310B(315 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

When this tax was implemented under former Sherriff Ed Nemeth, it was to be used to operate and pay for the new county jail, the Sherriff's Dept and the criminal justice system. During his tenure, the Dept and jail were well run and we even had an auxiliary jail to house non violent offenders- all done within his budget.

Since then, we have had buffoons (Wellington) or criminals (Chance, Philomena, etc) running the operations and they are in a shambles.

Add to this, the commissioners (past & current) took the money collected from the tax and put it into the general fund to help pay for non-essential services and pay raises for their cronies thus breaking faith with the voters. "When a Gov't does not have the funds to pay for NON-ESSENTIAL SERVICES, the electorate WILL ALWAYS be faced with a tax levy TO PAY FOR ESSENTIAL SERVICES!"

As an accountant, I have a number of police officers as clients representing various departments around the area. Because of this, I can attest to the fact that a Sherriff's deputy only makes 1/2 to 2/3 the salary that many other law enforcement officers make. This is a sad commentary on how we view the importance of public safety in this valley regarding the Sherriff's office. These dedicated employees make less than many administrative people in the county gov't, yet we ask them to put their safety in jeopardy to protect ours.

I will vote for the sales tax levy on Tuesday and I am calling on ALL 3 commissioners to segregate this money from the general fund so that it will be used ONLY for the purpose it was originally intended to be used for.

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6author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

To 'exposed' --

Answer why Belinky hired Gaudio Jr and someone might answer your question.

Personally, I believe that Belinky hired Gaudio, as so Belinky had someone to accompany him on his frequent LONG lunch trips to various establishments.

I hear that a lot of the Probate Courts work is accomplished in this way.

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7mim1237(7 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Being the wife of a Sheriff's Deputy, I must say the ignorance as to what the Deputies make is amazing as well as the ignorance on how PERS works. First let's look at their wages. A manager at Mcdonald's makes more then a deputy, and not to degrade anyone but do you think these jobs are even comparable. The newer Deputies make barely above minimum wage to deal with the criminals that break into your homes, assault your family members or steal your things that you worked to obtain. In regards to PERS, Deputies pay into it and the money is matched. Isn't that the same as a private sector 401K? Its funny that those who want to criticize the Deputies and complain they don't earn their money or that they don't deserve fair pay are the first ones to call when they need help or the ones who have been residents of the County Jail. Well when its you or your loved one that needs them someday, please don't fret when it takes them 1 hour or more to respond because they had to lay so many off that they do not have anyone available to help you right now. If you live in a community where you have your own police department, well don't get upset when the guy who raped your wife or daughter or threatened your life is walking the streets because there weren't enough Deputies to cover the jail. And keep in mind that although the Sheriff's Department takes a large portion of this tax they also generate income through a variety of ways. If the tax doesn't pass then this will also be in jeopardy because they will not have the staff to follow through on those contracts,meaning even less money. Instead of punishing the working people, why not vote for the tax and get rid of the politicians who have helped create this mess. Vote for the tax and vote in new commissioners instead of using the Sheriff's Department as the scapegoat!

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8UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

mim1237 - NO on the 1/2% sales tax is the only way to express our disgust with the Tax & Spend in Mahoning County. A YES would only give the commissioners 5 more years of Tax & Spend. If you husband doesn't feel he's earning enough then he should quit and go look for a job somewhere else. I doubt in this economy he will find one that pays the same with healthcare anmd pension benefits. Sorry you feel like you do but the answer will be NO on Tuesday because it's the right vote and we are tired of paying and paying and paying..

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