Let the dealership fly the American flag
To the editor: Let Old Glory Fly! By the time this letter is published, I hope this nonsensical matter has already been settled, but I still felt I needed to voice my opinion on the opposition to the proposed placement of a large American flag on Mr. Kufleitner's new dealership. When I read the article in the Salem News on Tuesday, I was appalled at the behavior and opinions of some of the members of the Zoning Board. And, to add insult to injury, I was absolutely livid when the hanging of Old Glory was likened to the hanging of a flag with a "hot dog." My grandmother had four sons in uniform at the same time serving our country during a time of war. This to me, was a slap in the face to them, and to everyone who has worn the uniform of our country. We should never forget that we continue to have our young men and women putting their lives on the line to maintain the peace and freedoms we all take for granted. The American flag is a beautiful symbol of our freedom, and one never to be disrespected. Salem is always quoted as saying they welcome new business into our fair city, but when you have someone willing to invest a lot of money into a spectacular business, but placing stumbling blocks along the way, is contradictory. What a welcoming sight it would be to have Old Glory welcoming visitors to the City of Peace. What a beautiful tribute to those men and women, past and present, serving our country. I say we should be thanking Mr. Kufleitner for this generous gift of patriotism. God bless America, and best wishes Mr. Kufleitnerthank you for investing in the city of Salemthe American Flag is a fight worth fighting!
Judi Allio, Salem
Praise for the workers at toxic waste collection
To the editor: Kudos to the workers at the recent toxic waste collection at the Columbiana County Court House.
The wait in line was quite long, but once you got into the collection area help came within a minute or so and you didn't have to raise a finger. I had several very heavy items in my vehicle, and a man and woman came over and said they would handle them. Within a few minutes my vehicle was empty. They worked hard and fast so once more, kudos to them.
JAMES W. POFFENBERGER, Salem
Responds to Salem BOE and Walmart tax appeal
To the editor: I am writing in response to your article "Walmart tax appeal ruffles feathers on board", September 20, 2011.
As a taxpayer well aware of the tax appeal process, I take issue with your stance of reporting a single-sided debate filled with half-truths that undermine the rights of all taxpayers. The tax appeal process is a taxpayer right under the Ohio Bill of Rights. We are entitled to due process anytime we are wronged by the government. When the auditor assigns a fraudulent value for tax assessment purposes, it is paramount that everyone understands we possess the right to present our evidence in support of the true market value for our property. It is beyond disturbing, it is outright disgusting that any level of our government will take the position that our property tax system in Ohio should ignore the definition of "Fair Market Value" for the purpose of demanding those who can afford it be forced to pay more. What about the unemployed who no longer have the income to pay the ever increasing school levies? Are they granted a value reduction based on their inability to pay? Absolutely not! The schools then take the attitude of "pay your taxes or lose your property." Unfortunately, we see a lot of that going on all over Ohio. Why do you not find that "disturbing?" Brad Myers is correct that Walmart "is one of the most profitable companies in the world." School boards all across Ohio should take notes instead of criticizing the fiscally responsible actions of the private sector. No business will succeed if they do not control excessive costs. Only an irresponsible politician would attack a business for being successful because they have a sound fiscal policy.
It was generally stated, without any supportive evidence, that "Walmart historically does this across the state." Does what? Controls their bottom line so they can continue to be the largest employer in the country? Ironically, it was not reported about the school districts all across Ohio that historically file thousands of tax appeals every year against taxpayers. This practice is costing property owners in Ohio over $90 million every year. You're that outraged over $13,000 a year?
Andrew Null stated "We as a community need to look at where we spend our money." Is this really another person in government calling for a boycott on a private industry simply because he couldn't keep tax dollars they are not entitled to? What about the citizens of Salem who work at Walmart? Is the community really in favor of attacking the jobs of their neighbors because Null wants them to? When they lose their job and can't pay their taxes, are you going to call them names and accuse them of taking money from the students too? Furthermore, I can trump your frustration with outrage. How dare you spent thousands of our tax dollars fighting Walmart, when you had no evidence to present, only to cry foul when the government has to abide by the same laws you demand of every taxpayer in the state. The schools initiated the negotiations for a settlement, agreed to the stipulated value, then blast a taxpayer in the paper for seeking a "fair assessment." This elevates the definition of tyranny to a whole new level. According to the Ohio Revised Code, the school districts "have a right to participate" in tax appeals exceeding a certain value. It is not mandatory that the schools participate in every Class II appeal. In fact, it is extremely fiscally irresponsible. I do concur that we as a community need to look at where YOU spend our money! Will there be a factual accounting of exactly how much money the school spent to fight Walmart?
Contrary to what was reported, the schools are not required to fight these appeals. The truth is, if the county had corrected their value to the $4.1 million requested in the first year of the appeal, way back in 2008, the schools would have been reimbursed by the state for the loss in revenue. That happens regardless of their participation in the appeal. But, the schools are not reimbursed for their legal fees wasted in a baseless fight. This entire process was a tremendous misuse of tax dollars. Not because of Walmart, but because of every irresponsible decision made by the board. I do agree with Mr. Myers statement that "I think the community should take a hard look at this." With an open disclosure of all costs and all facts, the community should be prepared to better elect stewards of their tax dollars who are capable of making financially responsible decisions. As for the reporting of the Auditor maintaining the same assessment for 2010 as 2007, maybe the people of Columbiana County will be better served if more politicians would read the newspapers or turn on a TV. The last reports I heard was property values are down 30 percent across the country at the end of 2009. How inept to assume Salem, Ohio was not impacted by the same declining trends. So, here we go again. The auditor assigns a knowingly fictitious value to the Walmart property, forcing Walmart to hire an attorney and an appraiser, file a new appeal, so the schools can toss more tax dollars down the drain while condemning Walmart for taking money from the students. It sounds like a flushing at the ballot box would be the better course of action.
ROBERT D. MELLINGER, West Chester
Offer support for the United bond levy
To the editor: In the United Local School District we have the opportunity to choose our future.
We have the opportunity to take advantage of an excellent academic record and a very sound fiscal operation to build on our success. On the Nov. 8 ballot is a 3.92 mill bond levy to bring back a significant portion of state money. Thirty million dollars, or 79 percent of the construction costs, coming back to Columbiana County - United Local Schools - if we come up with nine million dollars of local money to build a new PK-12 school. We will not have to pay back the state portion of the costs. We would just have to borrow (at very low interest rates) our local portion and that is what the 3.92 mill bond levy would pay back over 37 years. Yes, it is a long time, but we will use these buildings for many years beyond that and there is no penalty for paying it off early if that is possible. The plan is to appropriately utilize the newest ('94, '97 and '04) portions of the existing building while replacing the original 1951 building and the seven oldest additions ('53, '55, '57, '66, '73, '82 and '84). In essence we can replace 87 percent of our existing building - a majority of which was built by 1966.
Forty years ago I began my formal education in the original 1951 building. Today, two of our three children are in those same classrooms. These buildings have served us very well - imagine what our children and decades of future students can accomplish in modern classrooms. (And no more flat roofs!) I was once quite skeptical of the whole issue. I couldn't believe that almost all of the building needed to be replaced. But two things happened. First I took a tour of the building and realized that despite excellent maintenance of the building, it's time to upgrade. Second, I have recently have had an experience that every conscientious voter should experience - substitute teaching. In different school districts, I have substituted in a 1-year old building and in a 50+ year old building. There is a huge difference not only in the size, but also the technological capabilities of a modern classroom. One of the best ways to protect our individual property values in United Local is to provide the local funding to pull down $30 million of state money to build a modern building. Just as our educational leaders chose to consolidate the many one room school houses to build the 1951 building, we have the opportunity to also pay forward for a brighter future. Please, if you have any questions, ask. If you want to see a really old boiler heating system, come take a tour. Many people who have done these two things walk away believing that voting for this United Local bond levy is a practical decision.
Sean D. Logan, Lisbon
Failing schools will lead to education changes
To the editor: I may not be the smartest or the dumbest or the youngest or the oldest letter writer in your newspaper, but I believe I see things many people do not observe. An example is local school districts. Many were or are still in financial trouble. There are at least two schools that quite possibly might not make it. We have to think about the economy and the 944 foreclosures we have had for 2010 to Sept. 13, 2011. From the reports I read in your paper maybe all of the schools will be in trouble in the next five years. One last thing is my prediction! By the year 2025 we will not have any more schools for children over 8, maybe 10 years old. In case you haven't guessed, schooling will be done by computers at home. With the kids we have today maybe first graders will also be on the computers and not have to wait until they are 8 to 10 years old.
BILL GRAY, Lisbon