Monday, August 10, 2009

Three Important Levies at a Tough Time: A Difficult Balancing Act

This week, the Commission has to decide how to "size" three important levies that are seeking renewal on the ballot this November. For many reasons, this has become a daunting task for all three of us.

To be very blunt: with what looks like five countywide levies on the ballot at a uniquely bad economic time—a time that our residents are enduring the tightest squeeze on their wallets in years (over 9% unemployment, foreclosures, lower take-home pay nationally, etc.)—I worry we are watching a ship steaming toward an iceberg.

Just Tuesday, 61% of school levies on the ballot failed in Ohio, including a renewal in Mt. Healthy. And our Countywide online survey showed very little appetite for new levies or higher levels of taxation for renewals at this time. If any one of the levies we are discussing now (MRDD, Familty Treatment and Services, Museum Center) were to suffer a similar fate as so many school districts last Tuesday, the consequences to critical services as well as the County budget would be dire. If more than one failed, even worse.

So today I proposed a plan that would allow us to support the three levies' renewal while being sensitive to the tough times our taxpayers are enduring. Indeed, even if all three were renewed, citizens would pay less in taxes next year for these levies than they do this year. So we are not asking citizens who are earning less to pay more.

There are strong feelings about each of these levies, and I am a supporter of all three and what they do. But in this difficult economic year, I believe the best way to "protect" them, and maximize their chance for renewal, is to ask for as little as possible from an already financially squeezed community.

For the details of the plan I proposed, link here.

For the Enquirer story on it, link here.


Anonymous said...


The county needs to embark a community awareness campaign because our family is prepared to vote NO on any taxes.


COAST said...

You're cutting spending AND taxes?

Feels like the twilight zone. Keep this up and you could become our new favorite local politician.

Anonymous said...

Too bad the 3 levies couldn't be conbined into 1.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Pepper, I don't need the BOCC or any other political body telling me how to vote.I am smart enough to decide if I want to vote for a levy or not and if the organization is a good steward of the money or not.

This reminds me of when former commissioner Heimlich waged a campaign to defeat the Drake levy, yet it won by an overwheling margin.

Don't we as taxpayers get to decide what we value and are willing to pay taxes toward? Or should government just run our lives and tell us what we should value and spend our money on?

I find it offensive that the three of you think you are so much smarter than we the taxpayers. How arrogant.

I suppose we deserve it because it appears that many taxpayers aren't paying attention and need the government to tell us how to run their lives.

Anonymous said...

Exactly how is giving money to the Museum Center an essential government function? The community can't survive unless they're on the dole?

I can understand the need to help the mentally disabled, physically disabled, and provide drug and alcohol programs. The Museum Center isn't an essential service.

Anonymous said...

I thnk it was a good move to lower the levy amounts so there is no increase in taxes. These levies will be a tough sell this year, and your strategy should help. The former Drake levy and the MRDD levy are too important to our community to risk failure by asking for too much.

James said...

If we keep cutting funding for education for all children, we eventually shoot ourselves in the foot. We will have kids growing up without strong education, thus leading to a weaker country in competition with India and China.

Folks, if you consider the top 25% of students to be honor students, then India has more HONOR students than we have overall students.

Oh but James, there's "so much waste" everywhere else? "So much" is vague. You will ALWAYS have someone who is able to find the smallest thing and make a huge issue out of it. I don't want SMALLER govt, because you never have an ultimate goal of "ok that's small enough". It never stops. I want EFFICIENT govt.

We also do need to fix the stupid state funding problem in Ohio. Having the funding stay static when costs (teacher salaries, books, school bus gas) go up but Ohio legally has to keep the amount the same each year? Insane.

James said...

Oh and people, stop hiding behind "anonymous". I think Pepper should IGNORE ALL comments, unless you are man/woman enough to provide info on WHO YOU ARE!

James said...

Call me if you have any questions about my last two posts. Just look for "James" in the phone book.

Anonymous said...

I've already told the employees at the Main Library & the volunteers at the Book Warehouse sale this weekend that the ONLY levy I will vote for is the Library Levy.

The Library serves EVERYONE, including the taxpayers, which is a rarity these days, seeing we're asked time & again to support those who have never contributed a dime or sweat equity, the Entitlement Society.

Anonymous said...

Let's really look closely at the MR/DD Levy. There has been no layoffs, no decrease in salaries, nothing has been done to show the taxpayers, that they really want our vote. It amazes me that a Case Manager do make $80,000.00 a year, with hours of 8:30-3:30 and paid holidays, plus 5 weeks of vacation. Come on, we would all like to make $80,000.00 with hours like that. VOTE NO ON HAMILTON COUNTY MR/DD LEVY, MAKE THEM ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR MONEY SPENT.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, please tell us where you got the idea that MR/DD caseworkers make $80,000 a year, only work from 8:30-3:30, etc. Because none of that is true and if you think it is, I have a bridge you might want to buy...

Anonymous said...

I left two comments yesterday and only one of them is posted, which leaves me to believe that there *is* a moderator. So I will ask again, why did you let a comment (Sept. 4) with a blatant lie, a lie that could hurt the MR/DD levy's chances, be posted?

I'm not talking about an opinion here -- for example, someone who writes that they don't support one levy or another, that's their opinion. Someone who states MR/DD caseworkers make $80,000, only work from 8:30 to 3:30, and get five weeks vacation, that's a lie, and people who don't know any better might just believe it.

To let such a misleading comment be posted, or to post it and not rebut it, well, to that I can only say, shame on you, Commissioner Pepper.

Anonymous said...

One more comment, to Anonymous-who-tells-tall-tales-about-caseworker-salaries: MR/DD HAS made many cuts recently, including but not limited to closing one of their three schools (over much protest from the families involved), and changing the terms of the some of the services provided to schools, making the schools pay more. But something tells me you not interested in real facts.

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