Almost stealth campaign for city levy renewal

Published March 3, 2016 by justicewg
Grandview ave no levy signs

Photo fun, count the number of levy support yard signs on this strip of Grandview Ave. right across from the city hall*.

You would not be alone in being surprised by the city tax issue on the March 15th ballot. The city has gone low key, almost stealth, in the hopes of another easy passage of property-tax.

Issue 3 is a renewal of the city’s four-year, 7.5-mill property-tax levy. The city says it is needed for general funds, as well as for some street improvements. I don’t think this tax money has anything to do with the city streets and utilities going into the Grandview Yard development, those were supposed to be paid with the TIF money that targets taxes from that development directly into the project’s public costs.

There may be some additional costs coming out of the Yard that needs regular city funds – additional police and firemen who will now be in charge of serving this part of the city. I have not heard any numbers from the city on how the development has increased personnel, but it is a sure thing.

There are a few yard signs posted around the city to promote the levy. I think you can spot the city council members homes by the occurrence of a sign on a front yard.

Will the Gladman income tax relief cause problems with this levy?

One of the issues that caused conflict on the council last year was the attempt by Mr Gladman to give 100% tax relief to all residents who work outside the city. While the income tax paid by Columbus workers is similar to Grandview’s, it leaves most workers with an additional tax payment to RITA, his plan cut this tax, while taking $250K away from the city. Some council members thought it was a poorly timed issue, this levy renewal was in the planning  stage and it didn’t make the city look consistent by asking for a renewal at the same time it was looking to cut taxes.

If you are thinking about voting against this levy, you have a good reason to hit the no button, provided by a council member.

Does the school board support the city?

The standard way the school board and the city council work is to support each other when they ask for a levy. Apparently the board is asleep – or doesn’t care – about the city levy this time. There is nothing in the school website about the levy, not a word in support of the city in the “Superintendent Speaks” published Feb 24th. Nothing was emailed home with the parents. Unless “Meet Me in St. Louis” is a secret code for “vote for the levy”, the school cares more about the spring play.

If you go by the absence of yard signs in front of the board members homes that I pass on the way around town, you would have to guess they don’t support the city. I hope the council members remember this the next time the school board is asking for more money.

History lesson

There was another Issue 3 on the ballot back in the spring of 2009, it was also a renewal that had a low key campaign, and passed by 773 yes, 125 no. Given that the economy was in the crapper that year with no improvement in sight, I was surprised by the numbers. I guess Grandview residents are happy to vote for something that is not an increase (and almost always vote for big increases too).

It’s like I’m shouting at clouds when I say this, but the way to keep taxes low and the  city representatives on their toes is to say NO every once in a while. Negotiation 101 – suckers take the first offer.

Reynolds flips on Issue 3

A story in the D says that councilman Reynolds has changed his mind and is now against the renewal issue 3. The city has an $8.4 million carryover in its budget from last year, and Reynolds thinks the tax is not needed. Mayor Ray DeGraw is quoted saying “We don’t have surplus money,” and that every dollar in the issue three is needed for long delayed maintenance and buildings.

There is almost no chance that issue three will fail, so it is an odd position for Reynolds to take. Anti-tax is a popular position though. Reynolds said in the article that he will not be campaigning to vote no, but he apparently thought it was a good thing to send an email to the news media announcing his flip during the week before the voting.

Election results

Preliminary vote – 2087 for the Issue 3, and 741 no. This wasn’t the quite the 80% yes vote of 2009, but 73% is close enough to think that any opposition expressed by a council member had little effect.

*Trick question! There are no signs.

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