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Reader says tax should fund safety issues only

6/12/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Letter to the Editor

To the editor:

As many of you know, our [Summit] County Council recently held a public meeting on the proposed sales tax increase. This tax hike, if approved by Summit County residents, will provide for $80 million in design and construction costs for a new basketball arena for The University of Akron [UA] in Downtown Akron. In addition to the $80 million, Summit County taxpayers will be on the hook for a total of $161 million for this project over a period of 23 years.

Not only will this ballot issue raise taxes on the already taxed-out citizens of our county, put more tax burden on those with less income, it will do little to benefit many of our communities. The City of Akron will be providing zero dollars toward this project. UA will be providing zero dollars for this project.

The question that many of us continue to ask: “Why should our already cash-strapped county government pay for UA/City of Akron’s pet projects?” Answer: They shouldn’t.

In addition to funding this expensive UA arena project, which will literally replace an existing basketball arena, our county sheriff will receive funds for radio upgrades, 9-1-1 system upgrades, county jail repairs, staffing and county capital needs. The proponents of this tax increase have made it abundantly clear they plan on using our safety forces as pawns in their political games. Raising taxes for the needs of our safety forces is one thing, and a discussion to be had, but to spend $161 million on an arena (not safety forces) when our county sheriff’s office continues to face lawsuits, assaults in the county jail, declining funds and under-staffing is shameful.

This money should not be funding UA projects. Our safety forces should be the top priority, and this arena undermines the severity of the very real issues facing these agencies. Our safety forces are tired of being trotted out by politicians who do not attack the spending and revenue issues currently plaguing our county government, but rather shift the focus to projects they have no business spearheading. Again, lumping this basketball arena in with our safety forces is irresponsible and subverts the efforts of our hardworking county sheriff, his deputies and staff.

I urge all of you to contact your county council representative and tell them to stop playing politics with our safety forces, and tell them you will not support this issue if this expensive arena project is attached. We, as Summit County taxpayers, deserve better from our elected leaders!

Adam Miller, Cuyahoga Falls

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