Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Honoring A Heroic Community Activist

Those of us in City or County politics know Amos Robinson well--he is a tireless advocate for public safety and law enforcement, both for his own neighborhood (College Hill) and the broader community. And to his credit, he isn't afraid to let elected leaders know when they need to do better.

Well, last week he stepped up even more than usual: he stopped a fleeing felon trying to escape a courtroom. He received a whole lot of attention for this selfless and courageous act, from Akron, to Columbus, to Toledo.
Today, on Commissioner Hartmann's initiative, we honored Amos for not just what he did last week, but for what he does every week for our community. Thank you, Amos.

Earth Day Activity: Climate Initiative Moves Forward

As part of our Earth Day activity, Hamilton County hosted the last of our series of community meetings that comprise our "Climate Community Initiative."

This has been a wonderful partnership with the majority of our local jurisdictions, as we together work to reduce our carbon footprint while saving taxpayer dollars through reduced energy usage.

Today's meeting was "the end of the beginning" of our process. After months of meetings covering different topic areas, we launched a new tool that will help all of our local partners achieve these goals. It's called the Carbon Calculator, and it will allow each community, in the coming months, to create their own path to reduce their carbon footprint. We will then compile these individual community plans into one Countywide green plan.

And the best news? Federal stimulas dollars, in the form of Energy Effiency Block Grants, will allow us to support initiatives that come out of this work. We are also working on ways that these block grants can be used to incentivize energy efficiency and cost savings for businesses, citizens and local governments (and taxpayers) across the County.

In all, important progress in a critical area.

Happy Earth Day!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Curious: Thoughts on Texting While Driving?

There's a proposal at City Hall to ban texting while driving.

As the dialogue begins, I'm curious what readers think about this idea.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Prayers for Lockland Officer

Sadly, today is a sober reminder that whether it's our Sheriff's Deputies or the many police officers from across the County, our law enforcement officials put their life on the line every day.

Let's all pray for a full and speedy recover for the young Lockland Police Officer injured this morning while doing his job to protect the public.

Amid economic storms, some daylight?

We just reviewed our revenue for the first quarter of 2009, and the tough economy continues to have a huge impact on our revenues (which we had already projected very conservatively in our 2009 budget). We will have to make adjustments--and the earlier we make them, the better.

No surprise, revenues associated with the housing market are the hardest hit. The real estate transfer tax (as it sounds, paid whenever real estate is sold), for example, is projected to bring in $5.3 million in 2009. That's off from $8.4 million in 2008, $11.5 million in 2007, $13 million in 2006, and a peak of $14.4 million in 2005. That's right, the revenue amount stands at just over one-third of where it stood only four years ago--a precipitous fall. (FYI -- our transfer tax rate is lower than most counties).

Still, our initial 2009 numbers also give some reason for hope that the worst may be behind us, and things might get better by the Fall. In April, sales tax was only off of April 2008 by 1.1% ($51,000). This substantially exceeded our projected decrease of 4%, and marked the best year-to-year sales tax results we've seen so far this year, by far.

While we are budgeting assuming the worst, let's hope these sales tax numbers continue in this direction. But more than just hoping, we'll soon be rolling out a series of steps to encourage as much economic activity as possible.

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