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Why is mayor stonewalling proposed audit?

August 14, 2011
By DAVID W. JOHNSON - Columbiana County Republican Chairman , Salem News

I was amazed to read in today's local newspapers (Aug.10) that Salem City Mayor Jerry Wolford is opposed to an independent performance audit being proposed by the Ohio Auditor of State which will cost the city zero unless, of course, enough savings are identified and then realized to pay for it.

The mayor makes it appear that this audit will cost the city of Salem $45,000 and that the city will be stuck paying this sum regardless of whether or not savings can be identified. This is not the case. The city is not obligated to pay one dime more than the savings generated by the audit, up to the projected $45,000 cost of the audit.

Though it may not be well known by the public, the mayor received a detailed notice of the terms and conditions for which the city would be granted a loan to cover the cost of this performance audit back on July 14, well in advance of a scheduled city council finance committee on July 19.

Rather than immediately share the state auditor's notice with all of Salem City Council, most especially all members of the finance committee, the mayor sat on it long enough so that consideration of the matter would get delayed to a subsequent finance committee meeting. Knowing that questions would be raised at that next finance committee meeting, as they were, consideration by the full council could then be delayed again for a whole month since council is in recess until September.

This is the mayor that has tried twice to pass a 50 percent increase in the Salem city income tax. And, with the urgency of an emergency resolution, he supported repealing the city of Salem's longstanding income tax credit -which would have essentially "double-taxed" anybody that resided in Salem but worked outside of town.

It appears that when it is a matter of raising taxes, Mayor Wolford sees it as urgent, something that must be passed in emergency resolutions, without full hearings. Yet, when we have an opportunity to at least examine cost cutting, his posture is to delay, to postpone and to disparage any thought that cuts may be possible. What is he hiding?

The state auditor's office projects, based upon past experience all over Ohio in communities large and small, that for every $1 spent on their performance audits, $23 in savings can be achieved. Mayor Wolford - this means you are willing to leave potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars on the table just because you don't think there are any savings possible.

At a time when our nation is going broke, when our state has just come through an $8 billion deficit, we can ill afford such wrong headed thinking right here in our own locality.



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