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North Canton Taxpayer

The Issue: J Group Economic Development Contract 
bullet Background Information & Outcome
bullet My Position & Rationale
bullet Research, Documentation & Press Coverage

Background Information & Outcome

The legislation: Ordinance No. 5-02. Ordinance No. 5-02 authorizing the Mayor of the City of North Canton, through the Board of Control, to enter into a professional service agreement with the J Group to provide strategic consulting services with respect to matters pertaining to economic development, utilities, special events, community programs, marketing and other areas such as state and federal grant review assistance for a one year period beginning January 1, 2002 and ending December 31, 2002 at the rate of $4,200.00 per month and declaring the same to be an emergency.

The legislation originated in the Finance & Property Committee, discussed in council and referred out of committee for legislation on January 7, 2002.

The outcome: The legislation was read at one open council meeting on January 14, 2002. The administration had requested that the legislation be passed on an emergency. Passage of legislation on an emergency requires six votes of council and allows legislation to take affect immediately upon its approval by the mayor.

In the only reading of the legislation, all members present voted as follows:

Yes: McLaughlin, Snyder, Foltz, Kiesling, Lindower & Magel
No: Osborne

A second vote was taken by council to suspend the rules requiring the legislation be read at three different, regular Council meetings. In the vote to suspend the rules for this legislation, all members present voted as follows:

Yes: Snyder, Foltz, Kiesling, Lindower, Magel & McLaughlin
No: Osborne

A third vote to adopt the legislation under the suspension of the rules was taken. In the vote to adopt the legislation under the suspension of the rules, all members present voted as follows:

Yes: Snyder, Foltz, Kiesling, Lindower, Magel & McLaughlin
No: Osborne

The passage of the legislation to contract with the J Group for economic development services was reported January 15, 2002 in the  Repository article, N. Canton development pact passes. It was stated in this article that, “Rice told council that because of Osborne’s memo and the negative scrutiny, the J Group had become reluctant to work for the city.”

The J Group never signed the twelve month professional services contract that was passed in council on an emergency. The only public funds paid to the J Group were $10,000 that was paid under a previous 3-month Professional Service Agreement contract that did not require council approval. Under North Canton Charter, the mayor may make purchases and enter into contracts on behalf of the city involving expenditures up to $15,000 without prior approval from council.

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My Position and Rationale:

My Position: I was opposed to the Professional Service Contract with the J Group for several reasons:

  • The contract with the J-Group was too vague.

For example, the contract failed to specify performance guarantees, the scope of services, or expected outcomes.

  • As the legislation was written, economic development in the City of North Canton would have become the responsibility, carte blanche, of the J-Group.

I believe that economic development in the City of North Canton is one of the mayor's primary responsibilities and requires the mayor's personal attention.

  • Many of the duties that were broadly defined in the contract, such as grant writing, could or should be handled in-house by the city.

The Stark County Library offers assistance in writing requests for grant monies, which typically involves filling in blank forms.

In addition, the City of North Canton can utilize currently elected officials in Columbus and Washington to lobby for grant monies. Why hire anyone to do what our elected officials are paid to do?

  • A plan for economic development should not be rushed through council as emergency legislation.

The legislation was brought before the City Council by the mayor, who requested that it be passed on an emergency basis.  Economic development for the City of North Canton is important and should be a high priority issue, but I believe that an economic development plan should be carefully developed, and guided by clear goals.

  • I was unable to confirm past accomplishments attributed to a member of the J Group as presented to council by Mayor Tom Rice.

This apparent overstatement of the past accomplishments of one of the members of the J Group was just one of many reasons why I could not support this piece of legislation.

I reported this information to council in a memo, along with contact information so each council member could verify the information from the source for themselves.

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Research, Documentation & Press Coverage


Press Coverage:

   Canton Repository:

    Akron Beacon Journal*
Archived  Akron Beacon Journal articles are available to view on the web for a fee of $2.95 per article.  Past Akron Beacon Journal editions can also be found at local public libraries.

  • North Canton renews contract with consultant (January 15, 2002)
  • North Canton council can’t handle the truth (January 20, 2002)

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