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New Middletown vote has greater potential

Published: Sun, January 23, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Todd Franko (Contact)

New Middletown officials announced two weeks back that they are going to the polls with a special levy.

Residents will get the chance to vote on keeping 24-hour police service in the form of a 3-mill levy that will be put before them. New Middletown’s 24-hour police service became reality in part through President Barack Obama’s stimulus funds.

I think it’s unfair to get citizens hooked on a service and then draw more tax dollars out of them to continue it.

It’s the crack-dealer mentality: The first hit is always free.

In the 1990s, many communities said no to President Bill Clinton’s additional-police program for the same reason: Who pays once the federal funding runs out?

The packaging of this latest idea is off-putting:

Officials will let citizens decide if they want to pay $60,000 to maintain services that officials first started in part through a grant.

Here’s my thought:

New Middletown can be an experiment for all governments. Put the entire village budget before the citizens. Make a Facebook Budget page.

Here’s what The Columbus Dispatch is offering to folks who want to dabble in the state of Ohio’s fiscal mess — call it “You, too, can balance the budget.”

To see the Dispatch project, go to www.dispatch.com/live/content/insight/budget/index.html.

I took two swipes at this and proudly submitted a state budget only $3.5 billion in debt — then I had to do Saturday morning laundry.

But I wasn’t offered pensions and economic- development departments as categories.

Do you know that before Mahoning County turned on one light in 2011, more than $11 million in taxes was committed to pensions? At Youngstown State University, it was more than $5 million, and for the city of Youngstown, it was more than $3 million.

New Middletown’s Facebook Budget page can ask citizens if they will pay more for overnight police service. But it also would let them look at the total budget and decide what else they will live without.

Perhaps New Middletown citizens have a savings opportunity with the other recent news in New Middletown — the fire chief’s retirement.

With fire services, New Middletown is, unfortunately, in a poor marriage (not necessarily its own doing) with the surrounding Springfield Township as it pertains to shared fire services. The two can’t live together.

Perhaps give citizens the chance to force a merger that village and township leaders can’t seem to make happen on their own.

The combined 7,600 residents of New Middletown/Springfield have two police departments and two fire districts.

And voters should OK adding $60,000 more to that hodgepodge?

I say give voters more choices in how to spend $60,000 — if you’re to give them one.

Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes e-mails about stories and our newspaper. E-mail him at tfranko@vindy.com. He blogs, too, on vindy.com.


1MrReason(1 comment)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Speaking of drug dealers, that is exactly why New Middletown needs a 24-hour police force. There is a heroin problem in Springfield. It may not be as bad as the local news stations have made it out to be, but it does exist. Other issues with your column include the following:

1. The residents were fully aware that someday they would have to foot the bill. Many people wanted the safety provided by a 24-hour police force and figured the grant was a great way to help pay for some of it. Whether or not that was a majority of the residents will be seen in the special election.

2. A Facebook vote is not the best way to go about discerning public opinion. Many senior citizens in New Middletown don't have a Facebook account and may not even know what it is. I am sure they would want their voice heard. It's also not out of the realm of possibility for someone with a strong enough opinion to create multiple fake accounts on Facebook posing as other residents in order to "fix" the vote.

3. The reason for two fire departments and police departments is that there are two governments in play - the township government and the village government. (One difference is the village has zoning and the township does not.) In order for there to be one police department and/or one fire department, you would most likely have to combine the village and township governments. As we both know, Henry Kissinger once said, "University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small." The same can be said about local politics.

Mr. Franko I am not saying your ideas are bad. Saving money is always a good thing. Lower taxes are always a good thing. But we must balance that with resident safety, and we must also consider the potentially sticky political situations involved. (For full disclosure, I am a former resident of New Middletown now living in Indiana. My family still resides in the village.)

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2toddfranko(101 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Mr. Reason:
Canfield's and Poland's separate govts have successful mergers of fire services. They could do police as well, if they tried hard.

It's not an official Vindy piece unless you're knocking it. So this is official. Thanks.

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3ladiesrule(18 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Hats Off to Todd Franko for expressing what I have been expressing for several years! As a taxpayer in Springfield Township, I agree that it is long over due to have a fire district and a police district for both the Village of New Middletown and Springfield Township. With the cost of every piece of equipment today, we need to use our tax dollars as wisely as possible. The fire chief's retirement is a perfect reason to revisit and bring forth these districts. NOW is the time to set down and work this out, putting aside diffrences for the good of the tax payers.

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4ladiesrule(18 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

And yes! Poland and Canfield Village and Township have done this! We can't we?

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