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September 18, 2011
Salem News

Thankful for quick aid

To the editor: My wife Georgette and I attended my 61st high school reunion on Saturday, Sept. 10. When we were ready to leave Monday, we found the engine light on our car blinking. I drove out to Faulk's Automotive Service on state Route 45 without an appointment. Doug Faulk diagnosed and fixed the problem without hesitation in 40 minutes and we were on our way home to Maryland. After almost 80 years, I still find Lisbon's folks the most helpful and friendly people anywhere. I truly recommend Faulk's Automotive Service for all your automotive needs.

THOMAS L. PIKE, Kensington, Md.

Upset by noise, actions

To the editor: Like many valley citizens yesterday, I attended a memorial ceremony in honor of all those men, women, and children who lost their lives 10 years ago. The ceremony was held at the Columbiana Fairgrounds and I was humbled while I listened to the wonderful speakers as they honored those that perished that day, and spoke words of encouragement. I listened with the utmost respect, but was soon angered at the apparent level of disrespect from a neighbor. I was raised with certain values: responsibility, loyalty, compassion, and respect. We respect our elders, our co-workers, our neighbors, even our children. I was taught to respect even those I may not agree with or see eye to eye with. What I witnessed yesterday (Sept. 11) was very upsetting to me. The folks who planned the ceremony at the Columbiana Fairgrounds put many hours and lots of thought into it-only to be disrespected by the neighbors that made loud motorcycles that drowned out the speakers. When they were asked to stop, they proceeded to make obscene gestures to the crowd. I hope the ceremony planners know how much their efforts were appreciated and how proud we are of our service men and women. And to the neighbors who were more concerned with making that incredibly loud interrupting noise than taking a moment to honor nearly 3,000 people who deserve our respect, I have only one thing to say: grow up!


Checking out numbers

To the editor: First let us congratulate the students of United Local School for once again achieving a rating of "Excellence." These great students have proven to the majority of voters that it is still possible to learn and earn the highest accolades in the existing United Local Schools buildings. This past February, March and April there were many letters written to the editors regarding the proposed 3.91 mill (how to raise your property taxes) levy. Most letters were based on emotions and stating very few facts. What those meetings and the video divulged was that the board of education and the administration may have been derelict by ignoring their fiscal responsibilities for the upkeep and maintenance of the campus over the past few years. Not one home, that I know of, in the United School District (USD) (a home over 60 years old) that was structurally sound but was in need of a new roof, new windows, new heating and air conditioning, new electrical wiring was demolished and the owners started over doing a complete re-build, one that does come to mind got all these replaced and even got an addition built on and a new swimming pool.

Back to some factual history; in 1985 the United voters approved a 3.00 mill "permanent improvement" levy for repair and maintenance of items with a life expectancy of five years or more. This 3.00 mill "Extra Tax" (ET) is currently being collected at a rate of 1.3025 mills because of the application of a reduction factor. This 3.00 mill ET was most recently renewed by the voters on Nov. 4, 2008, and will continue to be collected until 2014, when it will undoubtedly come up again for a vote. How much money does this 3.00 mill ET generate for United? Keep in mind this is over and above your normal property tax bill. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 it generated $187,237.70; in FY2010, $181,754.20; in FY2009, $177,327.51 and for FY2008, $185,641.57. Remember this ET started back in 1985, but just in the last four years United got $731,960.98. You say that is not very much-well let's keep going.

In tax collection year 2006 the board of education and the administration decided they needed more of your money. So they arbitrarily added a 1.00 mill "inside" tax levy that was not voted on by the public and again was for permanent improvement purposes. There is no reduction factor applied to this levy (how to raise your property taxes without even being asked). This 1.00 mill ET will continue to be collected for as long as the board wants to spend more and more of your money. FY2011 they spent a whopping $11,550,600! How much money does this 1.00 mill ET generate for United? Again this 1.00 mill is over and above your normal property tax bill and over and above the 3.00 mill levy explained above. FY2009, $124.793.48 and for FY2008, $124,103.46. This ET started in 2006, but in just the last four years United got $506,912.50. Again, you say that is not very much-but add the 3.00 mill and 1.00 mills get a combined ET benefit of $1,238,873.40. Yes, over a million and a quarter in just four years, that sounds pretty good, but it is just a pittance of what is to come. These ET dollar amounts from the 3.00 and 1.00 mill levies vary from year to year based on property value assessments, foreclosures , etc. You can verify these yearly tax figures and totals by calling the Columbiana County Auditor s Office at 330-424-9515. This is all public information and is available upon request. That 3.00 ET which went into effect back in 1985 just did not satisfy the board's spending frenzy. So the board came back to the voters and asked for another ET. This time it was a 1/2 percent income tax, it was approved, and the Ohio State Department of Taxation started collecting this tax in FY 1992. Now this ET has nothing to do with your property taxes, nor the 3.00 mill, nor the 1.00 mill mentioned above. Its only relationship is that the money it generates goes into the ULS coffers. Remember this is an income tax and gets deducted out of your paycheck, your pension, your Social Security check (by the way, you did not get a C.O.L.A. increase in your Social Security last year, not this year, and the next two years do not look promising). In fact the entire economy looks pretty shaky. How much money does this "extra" 1/2 percent income tax generate for United: In FY2011 it amounted to $622.620.45; in FY2010, $602,391.87; in FY2009, $685, 163.95 and for FY2008, $719,726.16. Remember this ET started back in 1992 and has generated huge sums of extra money for United over the past years. Just the last four years alone it has amounted to $2,629,902.30. These income tax figures also vary from year to year based on increases or decreases in the wages earned by the residents of the USD. The close to double digit recession and an unemployment rate of well over 9.5 percent does not help when it comes to increasing your property taxes.

Just as a kicker, this ET of 1/2 percent Income Tax generated in FY2007, $593,343.53 and for FY2006, $542,730.08, another $1,136,073.60, just $3,765,975.90 in the last six years. This ET of 1/2 percent income tax has no ending date! It will continue to be collected until petitions are signed and it is put on the ballot and voted off by the district voters. Add these 3 " ETs" together, for just the past four years and you get a combined total of $3,868,775.70. Add 2007 and 2006 and it comes to $5,004,849.30. Again, these 1/2 percent income tax figures are public information and available upon request. You can verify them by calling the Ohio State Department of Taxation at 1-614-466-0091. With over $5 million in ET sent to United (there has been a lot more money spent, I only showed four years of the 3.00 mill and 1.00 mills and the 1/2 percent income tax). Why is there anything that needs to be repaired or replaced? Is it dereliction of fiscal responsibility? This "extra" $5 million has been more than enough to cover the cost of the "projected repair/replacement cost of over a 10 year period of $3,908,156.00 that was on the shopping list handed out at last spring's meetings. So where does United spend our tax dollars? Please call Mrs. Davies, United Local School treasurer, at 330-223-1521 and request copies of the "Permanent Improvement, 3.00 mill and 1.00 mill Expenditures "for FY2005 through FY2011. You will also need to ask for copies of the "General Fund Expenditures by Department Function" for FY2005 through FY2011. Also ask for copies of the "General Fund and Athletic Fund Expenditures and Revenue" for FY2008 through FY2011, you will be shocked to see that this most sacred of all sacred cows has a combined loss of over $911,600.00 in just the last four years. That is more money lost than has been paid by the ETs on the 3.00 mill. Once you review the above mentioned materials you will wonder why $5,100.00 of permanent improvement money was spent on archery equipment, or why $8,300.00 was spent on bus routing computer software-the school district's boundaries have not changed? Why $25,000 is set aside to buy light bulbs for the soccer field-from what I understand you can play this game in the daylight. Why weren't the thermostats and the valves they control in the heating system replaced with these funds? The lists go on and on, check it out for yourself-make the call, the choice is yours. Be an informed voter! Or be an ostrich. Here we are less than 60 days until Nov. 8, 2011, when you will be asked "again" to increase your property taxes for an unheard of, unprecedented additional 37 years. Using the board's terminology from last spring, "we want everyone to make up their own mind." The majority of voters did just that and on May 3, 2011, said "no" to the proposed levy/property tax increase. Quoting the board's expensive expert from the Aug. 2, 2011 Salem News, "It's all about the process." What could be repaired with our tax dollars that are going into his pockets? Do your homework, get informed and vote!

E. LEE STAMP, Winona



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