Once again, residents of Summit County may be asked to foot the bill for another city of Akron pipe dream — this time a $76 million arena. The Summit County Council is being asked to put a permanent 0.25-percent sales tax increase on the November ballot to pay for the arena along with some crucial sheriff’s department funding.
The problem is that past sales-tax increase proposals have met with sound defeats because they included nonessential spending on sports and other entertainment venues.
Many will remember back in 2000, when the SummitCARES (Culture, Arts, Recreation, Education and Sports) sales tax proposal was soundly defeated. A few years later, another countywide sales-tax increase was proposed that would have benefited the Akron city schools and school districts across the county.
Of course, this same mayor is now praising this arena proposal and is once again counting on money from those who reside in the communities surrounding Akron, including those of us north of Graham Road.
County Executive Russ Pry is the one who will be asking the County Council to put the tax increase on the ballot, citing the ongoing financial health of the county. This seems strange coming from someone who gave 10 percent raises to his top three administrators.
Many have forgotten that the primary purpose of taxation is to provide essential services to the public. Police and fire protection, public education and infrastructure are examples. An entertainment arena is not an essential service and would benefit nobody outside of Akron.
I am fed up with the growing waste of our precious tax dollars that I see as both a resident of Summit County and as a township trustee in Northfield Center who is constantly trying to maintain county level services for our township.
If this proposed tax makes its way to the November ballot, it should only address the highly publicized needs of the sheriff’s department without the inclusion of this ridiculous arena.
Members of the Summit County Council must decide which is more important, public safety or entertainment. I guarantee that combining both issues on the same ballot will result in its resounding defeat.
Paul G. Buescher
Northfield Center Township
Good conditions at Good Park
For years, I have played in two leagues at the city of Akron’s Good Park Golf Course.
More than once, I have voiced my concern about the conditions of the course to the staff at Good Park and city service directors.
I felt that what was once the jewel of golf courses in the Akron area had become far less appealing to golfers, mostly due to weather-related issues as well as neglect stemming from budget issues.
The greens at Good Park were especially poor. Every time these issues were brought up, I was told that the city was doing its best to maintain this once proud club, but it didn’t seem to be translating into improvements on the course.
Last season, I noticed that some effort was being made, as trees around the greens were being removed that were blocking the sun and reducing air movement. The city also invested in new maintenance equipment for the greens.
It seemed, by late last year, that the course was seeing some improvement. My friends and I returned to play this year, and I am very pleased to say that Good Park is in by far the best shape that I have seen in more than a decade.
The greens are fabulous, smooth and fast. The entire course was in great shape, ready for play, when our league began on April 10. Anyone who has not played Good Park this year should get out and try it.
My congratulations to the city and the entire staff at Good Park, especially those involved in maintenance. Thank you for making my most frequently played golf course also my favorite.
Education? Yes Arena? No
The University of Akron is raising tuition and fees yet again because it needs money. It is cutting departments and programs and hiring large numbers of adjunct faculty at starvation wages because it needs money.
But the university wants the county to tax me, not to improve its educational mission, but because it wants a new basketball arena? And the city agrees? How did providing a good education for undergraduates slip to the bottom of the public educational agenda?
I would gladly pay higher taxes if it meant that Ohio students would get a quality education at our public institutions. But not one penny for more bread and circuses.
Joan S. Friedman
Women and affirmative action
Ruth Marcus’ April 28 column, “Where women must ‘lean in’ against many obstacles,” champions institutional change in policies toward women. The changes would result in an increase in the number of women in leadership positions.
Will there be letters to the editor that oppose Marcus’ thesis? I don’t know, but I believe that there would be letters of dissent if anyone proposed institutional policy change in support of people of color, people who also face multiple historic and traditional institutional obstacles to advancement. Substitute the word “black” for the “women” in Marcus’ column, and watch the opposing letters flow.
Individuals who are cheering the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Michigan’s ban on affirmative action in university admissions may find it interesting that affirmative action purportedly created greater opportunities for women in general and white women in particular than it did for people of color.
Despite women’s advances under affirmative action, Marcus asserts that women still face debilitating institutional and policy barriers to gaining leadership positions. Read Marcus’ column, then look at your wife, daughter or sister and consider her future now that affirmative action is being nullified by the court.
Money better spent on streets
Once again, I see our elected officials are proposing more nonsense for our city. This time it is to be in the shape of a downtown arena.
Well, if history has shown us anything, it’s that this arena will probably cost taxpayers more than they bargained for and will never average attendance that is more than half of its capacity.
As my last act of faith in our elected officials, I would like to make a proposal that might just save all of their reputations.
They should drive the streets of Akron, pick any one, and be honest with themselves, asking whether the money being spent on the arena might be better spent fixing all the roads. They should think how people might actually appreciate the fact that they’ve done something for them instead of downtown or the University of Akron.
After all, if they are going to squander tax dollars, at least they should give us something nice to drive on.
John L. Seaburn
With other people’s money
It’s so easy to spend other people’s money. Just ask the mayor of Akron, the Akron City Council and the Summit County Council.
Here’s a list of ways our leaders have come up with recently to spend our hard-earned dollars:
1. Purchase the Mayflower Hotel and displace its 300-plus residents.
2. Purchase the land needed to build a bigger basketball arena for the University of Akron (when they seldom fill the one they have now) — plus have the county provide an additional $76 million to build the new arena via a sales tax increase.
3. Bail out the University Park Alliance, an organization mired in lawsuits, with $150,000 and a $600,000 loan guarantee.
4. Bail out the East Akron Community House, an organization under investigation by the state attorney general for negligence and dereliction of duty.
Meanwhile, the broken sewer system, repairs to which have been needed since the 1990s, gets paid for with other people’s money in the form of higher bills to residents. It is time we elect new leaders who care more about average citizens before they get fed up and move, leaving Akron looking like Detroit.
Richard T. Rexroad