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Community Disaster Relief Fund Could Become a Reality in North Canton

Councilman Mark Cerreta introduced a plan for a community-funded option to help disaster victims (such as those affected by the recent flooding) at Tuesday night's North Canton City Council meeting

Councilman Mark Cerreta introduced a plan at Tuesday night’s North Canton City Council meeting that would help disaster victims like those affected by and flooding — and would create a sense of community at the same time.

Cerreta talked that night of a North Canton Community Disaster Relief Fund that would consist of voluntary donations. Residents would give consent to donate on their city tax form. He proposed residents donate $5, while private and corporate sponsors also could donate in special cases.

The city often spends money on physical things such as water towers and road repairs, Cerreta said, but what is its role when its residents need help?

“Now we have a situation here where our people are in despair,” Cerreta said. “So now maybe it’s time to look at some things where we can help them out in the future.”

The city would keep the money in a separate account maintained by the finance department. Money would be given out after approval from a committee comprising two council members, two city administration members and two residents.

Law Director Hans Nilges said the disaster relief fund is possible, but there are many legal hurdles before it can become a reality.

Councilman Pat DeOrio stood behind the plan.

“I think this is one of the best ideas I’ve ever heard from municipal government, and I think Mark should be commended,” he said. “I just can’t speak highly enough of this idea.”

DeOrio said because the relief fund is made up of residents’ donations, it likely will strengthen the city’s sense of community.

“This is North Cantonians helping North Cantonians,” he said.

He suggested allowing private and corporate parties to donate not only in special cases, but anytime. And he encouraged Cerreta to tweak his original plan to keep money coming into the fund throughout the year by making options available to donate on the city’s website, by phone through the finance department and in person at City Hall.

Council members agreed to move forward with the discussion in the coming weeks.

Chuck Osborne September 07, 2011 at 03:21 PM
The proposed creation of a North Canton Community Disaster Relief Fund should not be used to gloss over and cover up the shortcomings of city government caused by decades known flooding issues with the Zimber. Secondly, it is a revelation to me that the proponent of this idea thinks he has found a pot of gold that will cover the damages suffered in the recent flooding, let alone a myriad of other disasters that might befall city residents. How many people, while struggling to pay North Canton City taxes, are going to send the city additional funds, no matter the humanitarian purpose of those funds? In good economic times I do not think this idea would be successful. In this new economic reality we all find ourselves in I would be stunned if enough funds are donated to benefit anyone. It makes for a little press for an individual who is running for elective office, however heartfelt it is intended. And it takes the heat off North Canton City government who has made no attempt to correct the flooding conditions of the Zimber Ditch that were studied in a report completed 14 years ago. Ideas such as these must be balanced with realistic expectations of success.
Ken Palosi September 07, 2011 at 08:50 PM
I doubt that a significant amount of money would be raised in this manner. I think this is an effort by council members to give residents the impression that they are doing something.
Jeff W September 07, 2011 at 09:04 PM
So Chuck, what is YOUR answer to the Zimber Ditch issue? Remember, you proclaim from the high heavens that the city should spend less money, not more. So what is your "no cost to the city" magical solution to this very complex problem?

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