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LETTERS || Bertram de Souza’s column titled “Austintown wins battle of water

Published: Sun, October 27, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

Bertram de Souza’s column titled “Austintown wins battle of water” has prompted me to write. The old adage comes to mind, “Sometimes you need to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.”

Last July, Tom Humphries from the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber and Youngstown Mayor Chuck Sammarone requested a meeting with Trustee Jim Davis to discuss the possibility of a Joint Economic Development District at the racino site. Several weeks later, Trustee Rick Stauffer was asked to meet with the mayor. I personally felt it was a divide- and-conquer tactic being used by the city. Perhaps, they should have requested a meeting with our entire board. After all, I am the most knowledgeable trustee sitting on this board regarding JEDDs. In 2006, the city expressed its intent to impose a profit tax and income tax on existing businesses and their employees, respectively, in Austintown. I was on the board at that time.

In 2008, our board held a town-hall meeting, which nearly 400 residents and business owners attended. Many stated if a tax was imposed, they would move their businesses farther west. That’s not economic development; that’s economic relocation. It may have also been a good idea to include Penn National in these initial discussions unless the intent was for these two governing bodies to enter into an agreement, without Penn National’s input and strong-arm it in the 11th hour.


To put things in perspective, Youngstown has a population of 65,000 residents and a 2013 budget of $167.8 million. Austintown and Boardman have a combined budget of $35 million and 80,000 residents. Youngstown has 15,000 fewer residents than Austintown and Boardman and its budget is $130 million more a year. How much money does a shrinking municipality need?

The hype about a JEDD providing necessary funding for new infrastructure to promote economic development is a weak sale. Austintown has been experiencing steady commercial growth, especially in the last 10 years, absent a JEDD.

Several years ago, to make Ohio more tax-friendly to businesses, Gov. Bob Taft implemented tax reforms that included phasing out Tangible Personal Property Tax and elimination of the Corporation Franchise Tax. Taft understood that in order to improve Ohio’s business climate, we needed to reduce taxes.

Youngstown’s plan to impose an income and profit tax in lieu of the TPPT and CFT doesn’t make good economic sense. This decision would have required a unanimous vote of all three trustees. If we did not agree, it would need to be voted on by the residents. It was my understanding, the city did not want the residents of Austintown to vote on this issue.

If the trustees rejected the taxation proposal, I was informed the city’s contingency plan was to charge Penn National $2 million annually to provide water service. To me, this gave every appearance of extortion.

In closing, I would like to say I fully understand perception is reality, but I have never stated I have disdain for Youngstown or its residents. I realize a few individuals have planted that seed in an effort to diminish my sensible, steadfast position on this issue. Austintown is willing to work with any community leaders who realize the “big stick” mentality won’t get you past the border.

Lisa L. Oles, Austintown

The writer is an Austintown Township trustee.


1Knightcap(699 comments)posted 10 months, 4 weeks ago

It would be nice to see the state or federal government come in with funds and create a suburban water district. This area would flourish with new businesses and jobs if Youngstown was not a part of it. Billions are spent on wars and foreign aid that could be spent on ideas that could move hard hit economic areas forward. At some point Youngstown has to give up their Mafia style way of doing business. Those days of Gazzo and Rocco Balboa collecting debts and paying Don Fanucci a cut for protection are over pal. Good job Lisa. You should run for commissioner.

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2Photoman(1004 comments)posted 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Lisa, thanks for one great letter.

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3Silence_Dogood(1342 comments)posted 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Apples and oranges. What Lisa Oles fails to factor into her numbers are very important factors such as water and wastewater neither of which Austintown or Boardman have. Both of these communities rely on Youngstown or other entities to provide for them. If Lisa Oles wants to advocate self reliance she needs to go to the community at large and advocate raising 150 to 200 million dollars from the Austintown population and built their own wastewater facility, instead of sending their crap to Youngstown. So she can play fast and loose with numbers, but in the end she is full of it, but thats alright, she will just flush it down the toilet(using Youngstown water) and Youngstown and the County will take care of it.

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4tookie(64 comments)posted 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Lisa Oles is probably the most uncollaborative public official in the Valley. You would never see her at meeting of other local leaders. She isn't interested in what's going on in the rest of the Valley or the world. She's got her head squarely in a hole somewhere in Austintown. I was glad though to see that she doesn't distain Youngstown or its people. Why not be a leader and call a meeting of local leaders adjacent to Austintown and talk about ways to work together rather than always rattling sabers.

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5YtownParent(324 comments)posted 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Mrs. Oles most likely wrote her response and sent it in prior to the letter by Penn National sending in their letter, which was also published today, announcing their ability and intention to use their own well water at the racino. Water is a commodity, a good being sold on the open market. Everyone who has a supply of the good that is needed is free to offer it at whatever price they feel the market will bear. Everyone knew Penn National, being a business, would go the cheapest route.

This squabble just illustrates our officials inability to think like business execs. Instead of pricing so the consumer, Penn National, would purchase, they priced as much as they could and dared the consumer to buy elsewhere. Sammarone and council underestimated how savy a consumer Penn National would be, eventhough they knew this isn't the first time they've had to purchase water for one of their tracks.

Finally, Lisa Oles isn't the first nonresident to ask the question "How much money does a shrinking municipality need?" My response then and now is, enough to cover the salaries of all the residents of Austintown, Boardman, Poland, etc.who work for it.

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6jupiter(116 comments)posted 10 months, 4 weeks ago


Perrysburg v. Bakies

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