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.
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