Long gone are those folk- loric days of yore when virtually any yahoo would do to lead Ohio’s quaint, rural and sparsely populated townships.
But today’s growing network of bustling, urban and densely populated townships, including Austintown in the Mahoning Valley, demand sophisticated, experienced and intelligent leadership. The increasingly large and complex sets of responsibility thrust upon Ohio townships’ governing boards require nothing short of top-notch and variegated skill sets.
Austintown Trustees Ken Carano and Jim Davis recognized as much this week in their apt selection of Douglas McGlynn to fill a void on the township’s governing team. One-third of the township’s executive panel has been absent since the Rev. Rick Stauffer resigned in April to pursue a pastorate in Pennsylvania.
From our perspective, we’re confident McGlynn, a longtime Austintown resident and former respected Fitch High School principal, has the right stuff to rise up to the challenges that await him in overseeing the second largest township in the Valley and the 19th largest of 1,308 townships in the state.
Those challenges lie primarily in the ever expansive realm of oversight 21st century urban townships face and in the financial struggles most of them endure in the wake of vastly shrinking support from state government.
Today’s heavily populated townships, after all, provide most of the same services as municipalities without some of the benefits, such as the authority to levy income taxes. Austintown government, for example, must oversee police protection, fire services, emergency medical operations, parks and recreation, street lighting, zoning controversies, road maintenance, a senior center, cemetery upkeep, and the list goes on.
They must do so with human and capital resources that generally pale in comparison to the scope of those in nearby cities. That means any trustee worth his salt must be an adept administrator and a keen financial manager.
McGlynn’s background suggests solid strengths in both domains.
MANAGER ALL OF HIS LIFE
The new trustee, currently superintendent of the Western Reserve Local School District in Mahoning County, has supervised others all of his adult life. He managed social studies classes at West Branch Local Schools for six years before assuming formal managerieal duties as a principal in Tuscarawas Local Schools. He then returned to Austintown Fitch for a 23-year ride as a highly visible grade-level and then school principal.
Over those years, he established lasting ties with thousands of residents and had his pulse on the issues confronting the suburban community. As Trustee Davis said, “The community has always respected him. To me, it was somebody we knew the community could trust.”
Perhaps the strongest attribute Mc-Glynn brings to the Austintown table, however, lies in his considerable background and experience in public-entity budgets and in the vagaries of state funding assistance.
That very strength stands out to fellow Trustee Carano. “The man knows funding, he knows the budgeting, he has the ability to work with the state.”
That’s good, because McGlynn’s budgetary acumen will be put to the test immediately in dealing with the township’s annual appropriations of $20 million-plus. Right now, the 41-member police force is reeling over the wafer-thin 14-vote defeat of a tax levy last month to keep the department solvent and at full strength. The need for the levy resulted from an 80 percent slash in state revenue to the department – from $1.5 million in 2010 to $305,000 in 2017.
McGlynn’s input as a school administrator whose district just last month passed a tax levy could prove most valuable in charting strategies for the campaign to approve that same police levy in November.
As for McGlynn, he looks and sounds as if he’s more than up to the challenges. As he told The Vindicator shortly after his appointment Monday night, “I’m a homegrown Austintown guy, and I’m going to give it the best shot, learn the process in the next few weeks and get up to speed, and hope to serve the community the best I can.”
We wish him success toward those selfless civic-minded ends.