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OUR READERS WRITE...

November 5, 2011
Salem News

It's about finances, audits and leadership

To the editor: The mayoral race in Salem seems to be centered around finances, audits and leadership, at least between Mr. Berlin and myself. Mr. Cranmer's position on these issues has yet to be stated and defined in any detail in order for the voters to make an informed decision on his plans for Salem's future.

Finances

All of us know that the economy is bad and will take more time to recover than we have thought. However, I am pleased to report that Salem's finances are in the black and will remain that way as long as you allow me to be your mayor. During my first four years as mayor, I have dealt with many financial issues from the beginning, through hiring freezes, layoffs, and finding ways to obtain revenue to maintain the level of quality city services the citizens expect and deserve. In order to deal with serious infrastructure needs of the city, council put tax issues on the ballot that would have dealt with correcting the problems. The voters spoke and we have moved on and continue to explore other sources of revenue to deal with the problems of flooding, street repair, and other basic infrastructural needs of the city.

Although major capital improvement projects will take longer to complete without the major revenue that tax issues provide, I have been able to procure over $1 million dollars in grant monies from various sources that have allowed us to complete East Pershing Street to the Walmart and Marc's area, tear down 43 substandard empty houses, and bring in close to 100 jobs from Chester Hoist, with more to come in 2012.

Salem residents are also benefiting from sidewalk replacement, street paving, and home rehab projects from grant monies received. Though a safer grant we were able to bring back a laid off firefighter, keeping costs down. I recently presented a plan to city council which will save every property owner in Salem at least $60 a year on their sewer storm water bills in 2012. A new city employee health insurance plan that I negotiated with the city employees this past spring, will save the city an estimated $80,000 this year, according to the city auditor.

In 2012, there will be an additional $20,000 savings with dental and life insurance. We just completed new three-year contracts with all four city unions, a first for Salem, that will show savings to the city for years to come. All of these positive issues have happened because of a proactive attitude that was taken, not just the usual "status-quo" and "business as usual" attitudes. We have been busy and will continue this same philosophy of getting things done if I am elected for another term as your mayor.

The "free" audit issue

The political "spin" put on this issue by Mr. Berlin and his party leadership has been nothing short of misleading and deceptive. To say that the so-called Performance Audit will not cost the city of Salem anything is simply not factual. In a letter I received from Ohio State Auditor David Yost, dated July 14, 2011, and also in a follow-up letter in August concerning the audit, Auditor Yost states, and I quote "the estimated cost to complete this project (performance audit) is $45,000." The cost is real! Any savings from "recommendations" from the audit are hypothetical and would have to be acted upon by city council.

Council refused to make a commitment to implement any recommendations. Mr. Berlin's party-promoted audit plan is nothing more than a plan to revisit the fire district issue, outsourcing our police department to the county sheriff, losing our local income tax department to a regional or state office and changing our form of city government which has served us well for over 200 years. If Mr. Berlin is chosen as the mayor, these are the future plans and direction that lie in store for Salem and its residents. Is that what Salem voters really want to happen the next four years? I don't think so, and I will oppose any outsourcing of our safety forces from Salem, if re-elected as your mayor.

Leadership

I believe that I have shown the leadership skills and the common sense approach to city issues that has kept Salem a great place to work and live. My commitment to you over the next four years as your mayor is to build on what has already been accomplished and to work daily as a full-time mayor for all of Salem, willing to try new ideas, but also knowing what is working now and listening to the people for their input. As I have said, "Working together, we are making a difference!" I look forward to serving you daily as the public servant that I consider myself, and to ensure that Salem continues to remain the great city that we call home.

MAYOR JERRY L. WOLFORD, Salem

Police union president offers up some numbers

To the editor: Several letters to the editor by the Republican Party chairman have provided conflicting information on Salem public employee wages/benefits, as well as implying that little, if any concessions were taken on new contracts.

To clarify, here are some facts about your police officers: From 2007 through 2010 the city administration reduced the Salem Police Department's full-time manpower from 24 to 19 officers by attrition. During this time, police call volume has not diminished and drug problems have increased. The reduction in force left the police department understaffed, causing numerous scheduling issues in 2010 including the removal of an officer from the Drug Task Force and necessitating that the city detective work part-time as a uniformed patrol officer.

Since late 2010 the detective returned to full-time detective duties and an officer returned to the Drug Task Force on a part-time basis. But with the police department still five officers understaffed there has been a substantial increase to the individual workload of each officer, all of whom continue to struggle providing the same level of service this city had prior to the reduction in force. The loss of five full-time officers has been a huge police concession, saving the city in excess of a half a million dollars through 2010 and an additional $300,000 in the year 2011 (five officers at an estimated $60,000 wages/benefits cost each). And until some of those vacant positions are filled, the city will continue to save each year.

New Contract Concessions: Approximately: $52,000 saved. During the 1980s the unions agreed to forego pay raises in exchange for the city paying the employee portion of the pension pick-up. Since that agreement, Salem Police Department has remained one of the lowest-paying police departments among cities of similar size across the state of Ohio. Better benefits were traded for lower than average wages and now that employees will be paying the pension pick-up again, the city is providing a wage increase to bring wages in line with comparable cities. Officers will receive raises over three years of 4 percent, 3 percent, 3 percent and will pay a pension pick-up of 4 percent, 3 percent, 3 percent. This may seem like an even trade, but it is not. The pay raise is 4 percent of the officers base rate and the pension pick-up is 4 percent of the sum of the officers base rate/pay raise added together. Not only is this trade the equivalent of a pay freeze for three years (a concession in itself) it also results in an overall wage concession totaling $8,840. Health care concessions consist of an increase of 4 percent to officer co-pays (to 11 percent), which amounts to approximately $480 a year per officer for a 3 year total of $24,480. Deductibles of $200/$400 (per person/per family) amount to an average of $365 per officer each year for a three-year total of $18,615. Adding the new contract concessions together totals: $51,935.

Pension and Retirement: Full-time Salem police officers contribute to the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund. The maximum possible pension is 72 percent with 33 years, age of 56 or older.

The earliest full pension is 60 percent with 25 years, age of 48 or older. As for any complaint about the early age of retirement, please consider the following questions to form your own opinion: Does the public want 60 to 65 year old men and women trying to routinely perform the demanding duties of a policeman or fireman? Are there men and women of that age capable of doing these jobs? You bet, but would you want to wager the lives and safety of your family members on the chance that an average policeman or fireman in their 60's might not be physically capable of completing a critical task that could mean the difference between life and death?

As for the claim of free health care for life for retired public employees, that certainly does not apply to retired police officers. Current health care coverage for a husband/wife costs a retired police officer in excess of $800 per month and substantially more if they still have dependent children needing coverage. As always, the Salem police officers appreciate the support that has been shown by the citizens of Salem and we will continue to protect and serve to the best of our abilities. We hope you will recognize our concessions and realize that we have done our part to give back to the community in these tough economic times.

BRENT SLIDER,

Salem Police OLC/Union president

Promote don't condemn our area and workforce

To the editor: I have read with great interest your article "Jobs are there, if you are willing to fight for them." Essentially this amounts to no more than a condemnation of the majority of the workforce in this area.

Perhaps the most outrageous comment states that the inability to find good workers is a generational problem. Apparently if you are under 36, have ever had a drug problem or had the gall to sign up for unemployment because it was the only way to feed your children, you are now unemployable and unacceptable.

I am now approaching the age of 70 and since I was a teenager I have heard the same comments about people older and younger than I. Is it not time for these so-called leaders to realize that it is inevitable, these people will eventually control this area. It amazes me that this outfit is referred to as the Sustainable Opportunity Development Center. Am I wrong or should any opportunity development center promote the region instead of blaming its workers for all the failures while promoting the perceived attributes of the so called business leaders?

Perhaps this area would be better off if it were controlled by people who didn't take three weeks to contact their ineffective representatives, essentially looking for a hand out and instead concentrated on what they could do today, to promote this area instead of condemning it.

RICHARD KLENOVICH,

East Palestine

United student stresses need for levy passage

To the editor: Dear United Local community,

My name is Dalton Flory and I've been a student here at United Local since kindergarten. I'm a junior now this year and I've seen a lot of imperfections in my school. Being that I see the school every day it's easy for me to let you know we need a new school and I can inform you on the imperfections. As a whole school body I know a lot of students and students' parents who agree with the new bond issue.

United Local is surprisingly more than 51 years old and still counting. Over time classrooms and the facilities start to wear out and show their true colors. A number of classrooms' heater systems either blow out hot air during the summer or cold air during the winter. How would you like to wake up at 7 a.m. five days a week not knowing if your class room is going to be nice and cozy or freezing?

Okay so that last sentence was a little drastic, but it's very true; Mrs. Hardgrove's room is a good example in the winter. It is either cold one winter day or warm the other. In the junior high hallways the lighting is very dim and gloomy. Statistics show that when you have brighter school students are more apt to pay attention, learn, and stay awake!

If we do pass the levy for the new school we will be keeping some of the newer additions that have been made to United Local in the recent past years. The kindergarten that has been built approximately five years ago, and is still in good condition, will be kept and used. The new school would wrap around the auditorium and high school gym so they won't have to be torn down.

People that pay school taxes for United Local really don't want a tax raise for a certain amount of years to come! I'm happy to say that we don't have to fret over it that much as you think you should. If we do vote and pass the bond issue the state will pay 79 percent of how much the new school costs. Knowing that, your taxes won't increase as high as you think they would and it would be for a great cause and you can be proud you're supporting United Local.

I am for the new school and I will vote yes when it's time to vote for the bond issue. I hope that this letter has convinced you that we do need a new school and it would benefit the community drastically if we do get a new school in many ways. I also hope that I have informed you or let you know it would not be such a financial hardship either for the future years to come. I can see the future of United Local blooming and becoming an even more excellent school than what it already is. Thank you for reading this letter and thinking about the new school bond issue. Even if you never went to United Local or don't have kids going to United Local, wouldn't you rather pay school taxes for a new school rather than an old school that is less productive.

DALTON J. FLORY,

Hanoverton

Figuring out politics in America is quite taxing

To the editor: I think that politicians are hilarious. They repeat old jokes but the stories remain as funny as always. Perhaps it's because the audience can easily be convinced it did not hear them correctly the first time. When the subject is taxes, the laughs never stop.

Democrats are portrayed as job killers because they want to tax the "job creators" (they used to be called "the rich"). The punch line is that 75 percent of the created jobs occur overseas therefore Americans are required to have a passport and be willing to commute in order to apply for one.

The job creators are said to be paying about 80 percent of federal taxes and 47 percent of those working for, or wanting to work for them, pay no income tax at all. The funny side of that is in most cases, the gross income of the 47 percent is too gross; too low and tax exempt. Listening to those seeking that job in the White House, the anti-tax people, I hear them convincing the 47 percent that life would be more fun is they paid a federal sales tax or a flat income tax. If any 47 percent'er still retains his sense of humor, he certainly must be laughing at that one.

I don't have a solution for our nation's economic woe. I'll bet the next president won't have one either; but that's not funny, is it?

JOHN JARVIS,

East Liverpool

Thanks to those helping out with Arby's cruises

To the editor: We would like to say thank you to all the people that helped us this summer with the Salem Community Pantry Inc. Arby's car cruises from May, 21 through Oct. 21.

The Salem Community Pantry Inc. has served food to over 6,352 families so far this year. This figure includes repeat out-of-area visitors. With all the help of the people listed here we raised cash $5,405.60 - enough to buy 54,056 pounds of food through the Second Harvest Food Bank of Mahoning Valley. We also had 1,547 non-perishable food items donated through the year of car cruises, for a total of 55,603 pounds of food for the year.

We had cars cruisers as far away as Cleveland and Pittsburgh, and everywhere in between. We had cars, one of a kind, handmade, ex-gangsters, cars built from 1925 to 2011. We met a bunch of great car-cruising people this summer. We would like to say thank you to all these car cruisers without their support and their $2 donations we could not have done what we did this summer, and we are looking forward to next year's Saturday night Arby's cruises, starting in May.

We would like to say thank you to all the businesses throughout northeast Ohio, that gave us items for door prizes or monthly Chinese auction or helped with media. Without their support we could not have raised the money we did this summer. They are:

Arby's, Victorio's Pizza, Pizza Joe's, Rossler Transmission Inc., AutoZone, Salem News, Morning Journal, Sinsley Towing, Christy's Barber Shop, Walmart, Nye's General Construction, Giant Eagle, Mastropietro Winery Inc., Summit Racing, Alfredo's Pizza, Pizza Hut, Moore's Farm, Salem Twin Cinema, Family Video, Salem Hills Golf Club, Julian Bed and Breakfast, Pine Lakes Golf Course, Cleveland Browns, Eat-N-Park, Bob Evans, Campf's Auto Repair, Tractor Supply, Consumer Banks, Columbiana Firestone, NAPA Auto Parts, Ponderosa Steak House, J.B. Foods Service (Subway), O'Charleys, Ricky's English Pub, East Of Chicago Pizza, C's Waffles, Salem Car Wash, Supplement Station, Quakers Corner, The DeBartolo Corporation, Alberini's Restaurant, Cold Stone Creamery, Remember When, Ginger Jar, Jalisco's, Littler Caesar's, Ice Zone, RockAuto.Com, Parks Garden Center, Hogan's Baking Company, Phantoms Hockey, Martin's Tire and Auto Sales, Spread Eagle Tavern, Don Poncho's, Farmers Dave's, Advance Auto, Doug Davidson Trucking, Sebring American Legion, Italian-American Club, Quaker Village, Mario's Pizza, Armstrong Saddlery and Trailer Sales, Salem Tire Service, Salem Community Pantry Inc. Volunteers, AMVETS Post 45, Dollar General Store, Cruisin Times Magazine, BigALslist.Com, Home Care With Heart, Perkins Restaurants, Lyle Printing, American, Crew 4 U, Larry Shields, Ladies from (Pampered Chef, Avon, Premier Jewelry, Princess House, Thirty One Gift, Tupperware, Mary Kay.

We would like to say thank you to the bands and the singers that donated a night of entertainment to help raise money for the Salem Community Pantry Inc.: Uptown Saturday Night, Voice of Elvis, Dave Pasco, The Back Road Band, John Gilbert and Abbey Road, Sugar Tree Alley Steel Drums Band, West Branch High School's The Marvelous Wonderettes, Randy Strader and the Tribute Band. Again thank all of you for your help, support, and donations to help the Salem Community Pantry Inc. "A little help goes a long way.

GENE JOHNSON,

Salem

Hey! - it's business first with our government

To the editor: For those of you who think that government should not be run like a business, you can relax, because with the hoards of business lobbyists paying our greedy politicians millions of dollars to get them what they want, I think we already have a business first run government, not for the people first.

So I don't know who to vote for, what with big oil, big Wall Street and the military-industrial complex, starting wars for profit etc. with the peoples money, by controlling our elected officials. Why are the rich getting richer with the middle class disappearing? It saddens me greatly to see this happening!

CHARLES OLIVER,

New Waterford

Congrats to Southern players and their coaches

To the editor: Thanks to the Southern Local Indians and their outstanding coaching staff for an outstanding, record-breaking season-9-1. The boys played each game as the champions they are, never giving up and being a model of good sportsmanship, strength and determination. Their hard work and conditioning paid off! Lesser teams may go to the playoffs but the Indian Nation stands 9-1! Congratulations!

LINDA WELCH,

Lisbon

United student stresses need for levy passage

To the editor: Dear United Local community,

My name is Dalton Flory and I've been a student here at United Local since kindergarten. I'm a junior now this year and I've seen a lot of imperfections in my school. Being that I see the school every day it's easy for me to let you know we need a new school and I can inform you on the imperfections. As a whole school body I know a lot of students and students' parents who agree with the new bond issue.

United Local is surprisingly more than 51 years old and still counting. Over time classrooms and the facilities start to wear out and show their true colors. A number of classrooms' heater systems either blow out hot air during the summer or cold air during the winter. How would you like to wake up at 7 a.m. five days a week not knowing if your class room is going to be nice and cozy or freezing?

Okay so that last sentence was a little drastic, but it's very true; Mrs. Hardgrove's room is a good example in the winter. It is either cold one winter day or warm the other. In the junior high hallways the lighting is very dim and gloomy. Statistics show that when you have brighter school students are more apt to pay attention, learn, and stay awake!

If we do pass the levy for the new school we will be keeping some of the newer additions that have been made to United Local in the recent past years. The kindergarten that has been built approximately five years ago, and is still in good condition, will be kept and used. The new school would wrap around the auditorium and high school gym so they won't have to be torn down.

People that pay school taxes for United Local really don't want a tax raise for a certain amount of years to come! I'm happy to say that we don't have to fret over it that much as you think you should. If we do vote and pass the bond issue the state will pay 79 percent of how much the new school costs. Knowing that, your taxes won't increase as high as you think they would and it would be for a great cause and you can be proud you're supporting United Local.

I am for the new school and I will vote yes when it's time to vote for the bond issue. I hope that this letter has convinced you that we do need a new school and it would benefit the community drastically if we do get a new school in many ways. I also hope that I have informed you or let you know it would not be such a financial hardship either for the future years to come. I can see the future of United Local blooming and becoming an even more excellent school than what it already is. Thank you for reading this letter and thinking about the new school bond issue.

Even if you never went to United Local or don't have kids going to United Local, wouldn't you rather pay school taxes for a new school rather than an old school that is less productive.

DALTON J. FLORY,

Hanoverton

 
 

 

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