Monday, June 21, 2010

Boondoggle bill comes due

The Hamilton County Tax Levy Review Commission will be meeting at 138 East Court Street, 6th Floor, today, Monday, June 21 at 4:30pm: The purpose of the meeting is a public hearing to hear comment on options to address funding gaps in the "Stadium Fund" that have been presented during the past month by Commissioner Pepper, Commissioner Portune and Commissioner Hartman.

With the understanding that many things must happen to close the deficit, including help from the Reds and Bengals and some projected money beginning in 2013 from casino revenues, Hamilton County is responsible for payment on the construction bonds that were issued to build the baseball and football stadiums and other boondoggles such as the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and Riverfront Transit Center. Defaulting on the bonds or on the baseball or football team contract is not an option as the contracts appear to be legally solid and Hamilton County does need to pay its' bond debt. Generally, and somewhat subject to negotiation, the options are:

A)  reduce, but not eliminate the "Property Tax Rollback" (PTR)  that was promised to Hamilton County homeowners in 1996. This PTR gives some money back to Hamilton County residents when they pay their semi-annual tax bill, but does not give any money back to residents of other counties that make taxable purchases in Hamilton County. Because of the PTR to Hamilton County residental homeowners, the net burden of paying the debt is somewhat spread out among our neighboring counties.

B) A 1/4% or 1/2% addition to the Hamilton County sales tax rate for a limited number of years (10 years or 5 years) to make up the deficit.

C) Eliminate the Hamilton County contribution to University Hospital beginning after the end of the current Health and Hospitalization Levy (end of 2011). This option would reduce the amount of the Health and Hospitalization assessment beginning in 2012 for all taxable business and residential properties.This option would also include a reduction of the PTR that was promised in 1996, so the net effect for residential would be that the homeowner would see less of a PTR on their tax bill, but would also pay less tax due to a lower Health and Hospitalization assessment. Business properties would benefit from a lower property tax bill because of the reduction in the Health and Hospitalization levy. This option also considers that  University Hospital might be kept somewhat whole as funding responsibilty for care shifts from local to federal dollars because of the National Health Insurance bill that was passed in congress and signed by President Obama. In theory, National Health Insurnace will cover everyone. Since funding for care of those unable to pay may become the burden of the federal government,  should local taxpayers continue to contribute to University Hospital?

All three options are being discussed by the commissioners and nothing has been decided yet.Comments are welcome. The meeting will probably last about 60-75 minutes.

The Enquirer article on the topic is here. COAST's position is as follows:

1)      First and foremost, the terrible choices we have relating to the Stadium Fund arose not just from the recession as the media and politicians keep telling is, but rather from unrealistic income expectations and massive over-spending in the Stadium Fund.
2)      This has been exacerbated by continued spending from that fund by Commissioners Portune and Pepper, money for attorneys, money for Banks development, money for the Riverfront Transit Center.
3)      In addition, general fund monies and special fund monies that have been mis-directed over the past three years could have been applied to this problem if that had not been squandered
a.       The most prominent of these is the $3 million per year excess in the Convention Center Expansion fund (Transient Occupancy Tax) overage.  Those monies going forward still have not been accounted for properly.  Why not apply them to this problem?
b.      This was squandered, among other things, on the Film Commission
4)      So, there are important lessons out community can learn about pie-in-the-sky projections from politicians and economists that just don’t pan out.  Let’s not make these mistakes again
a.       The most prominent of these is, of course, the Cincinnati Trolley, but there are more.  There are always more.
5)      The property tax rollback (PTR) was a solemn promise to the voters when the tax was enacted.  It must be kept not just as a matter of fiscal policy, but as a matter of civic integrity.
6)      Moreover, the Pepper plan to eliminate part of the PTR is simply dishonest as it provides no long-term relief to the problem; it is a Band-Aid of a fix.
7)      Any tax increase, whether eliminating the PTR or a sales tax increase should be placed before the voters as a choice.
8)      We propose that the County cut over-spending in the general fund and use that surplus to continue to fund the PTR  
Where to cut?  The County Commissioners should not have disbanded and should re-empanel the managed competition committee to ferret savings from a wasteful County bureaucracy.

22 comments:

  1. The County should declare Chapter 9 Bankruptcy to get out of the crooked, Bedinghaus lease agreement that has bankrupted us. This is probably the only option that doesn't send more of our tax dollars to Mike Brown and Bob Bedinghaus. What happened to the COAST mission of opposing tax increases?

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  2. The COAST mission is not to arbitrarily oppose any and all tax increases. The group's stated mission is "limit the increase of spending and taxation to within the rate of inflation."

    From what I can tell, Hartmann's plan is pretty much tax-neutral, and therefore falls within COAST's stated mission. For the record though, I think that Chapter 9 is something that should be looked at.

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  3. The Transit Center was built with a federal grant, not with county fundsJune 21, 2010 at 11:30 PM

    The Transit Center was built with a federal grant, not with county funds.

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  4. ^ Sorry. It wasn't a grant at all, it was a loan.

    "Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, located in Cincinnati (Hamilton County), has been awarded a $5.475 million Urban Redevelopment Loan at an interest rate of zero-percent for the first five years of the loan and three-percent for the remaining ten years of the 15 year term. The funds will be used to support the construction of a two-story intermodal transit and parking structure along the riverbank in downtown Cincinnati. This $75.7 million project, known as the Banks Intermodal Transit Center Projects."

    So our tax dollars are being wasted to pay back (with interest) a transit center that can't even be used for anything.

    Moreover, the whole thing was part of the city's evil master plan to divert stadium tax funding for a whole host of boondoggles the voters never intended.

    "Once the decision on the Reds Stadium was made by the voters in favor of a riverfront site, Hamilton County and the City of Cincinnati appointed sixteen prominent citizens to the Riverfront Advisors Commission who were charged to "recommend mixed usage for the Riverfront that guarantees public investment will create sustainable development on the site most valued by our community". The result of that effort was The Banks, a September 1999 report from the Advisors which contained recommendations on land use, parking, finance, phasing, and developer selection for the Central Riverfront. The final Master Plan includes The Banks recommendations from the Advisors.

    Projects currently under construction include the Paul Brown Stadium (to open in August 2000) and the redesigned Fort Washington Way and the Intermodal Transportation Center (to be completed in 2001).

    Projects currently in design include the Reds Ballpark, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, underground parking and the riverfront park. These four projects are scheduled for completion after 2002.
    "

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  5. Mark Quarry, heard of me?June 22, 2010 at 1:52 AM

    I am having so much fun deciding which tax increase I'm going to support. It's a shame I have to limit myself to one. All of these tax increases are fantastic ideas and I wish I could support all of them!

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  6. You failed to stop me when your pathetic Issue 9 failed and your shill mayor candidate lost, once I'm built light rail is the next step and the first stop is the Transit Center. You won't have to worry about this though considering most of you live in Blue Ash and Jason Gloyd doesn't have a house to live in at all.

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  7. urbanite got ownedJune 22, 2010 at 9:28 AM

    Sorry Streetcar, but trains cannot get into or out of the transit center since the Ft. Washington Way reconstruction. The boondoggle transit center will sit forever empty withour rail - a glaring shrine to government incompetance. Enjoy the buses.

    PS - DAMN, you got completely owned on your transit center federal funds post too. Maybe you should check your facts a little closer before being made to look like a complete and total fool again.

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  8. The Riverfront Transit CenterJune 22, 2010 at 11:02 PM

    This is the Transit Center speaking. I was funded primarily by state and federal grants, not local funds. Also, I was finished ~after~ Fort Washington Way opened, not before. I would be serving trains as we speak if not for Stephen Louis breaking ethics laws to confuse the public into voting against the Metro Moves plan.

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  9. Urbanite Got Owned...

    There are actually right-of-way's preserved and possible ways for light rail trains and commuter DMU's to serve the transit center via the Western and Eastern portals. Why COAST continues to mislead everyone about this, I don't know. VIA the Eastern Corridor rail plan light rail vehicles could utilize the former OASIS line tracks up to a certain point before entering a joint right-of-way on Pete Rose Way. The landscaping beneath Ft. Washington Way would have to be removed from its current existing place as it sits where the right-of-way would go.

    COAST is so caught up in trying to convince everyone that it "can't be used for anything" that they've repeatedly ignored that the Transit Center is currently being used. The Center is utilized under a contract with System Parking who open the center for large downtown events and control the lots on the west and eastern portals, bringing in revenue every day from monthly parkers and other events. If you want to see some pictures and read more, check out:

    http://queencitydiscovery.blogspot.com/2009/05/cincinnatis-other-abandoned-subway.html

    These articles also have some good information on the center if you'd like to read some real facts and not some Ex-SORTA wingbat Stephan Louis rant:

    http://www.cincinnati-transit.net/transitcenter.html

    http://www.urbanup.net/index.php?catid=536

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  10. Gordon, thanks for putting up the facts and clearing up COAST's usual deceptions regarding the transit center, a particularly surprising show of foresight on the part of the city. COAST sadly labels anything to do with improving the quality of the city and region as a boondoggle, although I continue to be baffled why they take such glee in denigrating the city. You state it very well in your blog post that you linked that the small amount of state & federal funds used to construct this facility at the time made it possible. Waiting until the full need was there, would have been absolutely cost prohibitive.

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  11. I think that every suburb of Cincinnati be considered a boondoggle. They don't pay their fair share of infrastructure, sucking resources from the city. I say we cut them off. Let them keep their taxes to use however pitifully they want to.

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  12. ^ Give it a shot. You'll find out in very short order who the bloodsucker really is.

    About a third of the people who pay taxes to the City of Cinncinnati can't vote here because they're not residents. Give up that money and Cincinnati is down the toilet in under a year.

    Suburbs already pay higher rates per gallon for city water than city residents do. Suburbanites pay county property and sales taxes which disproportionately fund city boondoggles like the stadia, Zoo, hospitals, museums, etc.

    Your average suburbanite is spending far more on government than government is spending on him. But every city spends half again as much per resident as each resident pays in taxes. This is not a sustainable situation.

    Cities need to get competitive by becoming fiscally conservative if they expect to survive.

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  13. Another massive COAST lie. Don't blame the Cincinnati earnings tax for you guys not being able to pay your bills, blame yourselves for choosing to live in areas and taking jobs that require owning cars.

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  14. You could have always done what I did, stay unemployed and live off your fat wife.

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  15. After Mark Miller, Jason Gloyd, and Stephan Louis think that a fifth-grade-level assessment of the county's monetary woes is pure gold, they are disappointed to see that no one cares. So much so that they need to return to sophomoricaly populate the comments section with a bunch of faked entries with faked and selective information to propagate lies that keep the cash rolling in.

    How are you liking your red light cameras in the 'burbs, boys?

    Don't waste your donations on this group of clowns. It will just be squirreled away fighting losing court battles.

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  16. Hi Pot, I'm KettleJune 30, 2010 at 10:45 AM

    Yeah anonymous -
    your post follows a post from a sophomoric coast hater using a fake name who has no valid argument against them so instead resorts to personal attacks on coast members. Hypocrites.

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  17. yeah, the burbs can separate and pay their own way. think you are paying too much and don't get a say? then boycott the city and see how long it takes to affect you. you guys want to see cincinnati implode anyway. think your strip mall and applebees led economies don't depend on the city economy? you reap indirect benefits by being 'sub' urban. if you don't think so, move further out and take over even more farmland, pave it with miles of endless cul de sacs, put up more cookie cutter style bland houses that have rooms you don't even know what to do with, and eat at chili's every friday night with the kids loaded in the hummer. quit crying about your taxes when you are connected to a bigger system that you are reaping indirect countless dollars in economic strength from.

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  18. Fine then -
    And we'll keep our suburban tax dollars that go to fund the Jail, Prosecutor's Office, Court system, and Indigent Care levy that are disproportionally used by City residents. Have fun watching your economy crumble under the massive weight of the urban welfare and criminal justice state. Over 70% of the County budget goes to public safety. Have fun paying for it on your own.

    We'll keep our cookie cutter houses. You keep your Section 8 government paid shitholes. We'll keep our succesful restaurants and retail outlets. You keep the empty Carew Tower crap mall, and get ready to add additional welfare card scanner because we're ripping them out of our subrurban Krogers.

    In other words, quit bitching about the people who choose to live in the suburbs who pay taxes to subsidize the messes the City creates. Realize that YOU TOO are part of a bigger system that you reap benefits from thanks to suburban taxpayers. It's a two way street.

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  19. Oh yeah, I love how people come to the COAST blog to read their posts and tell them how irrelevant they are. COAST is so irrelevant that you feel the need to spend time commenting on THEIR BLOG? Haha.
    And you crack on COAST people commenting on their own blog? Is this any worse than the same 5 person circle jerk on the streetcar blogs each week?
    FAIL

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  20. COAST is super-irrelevant. Which is why I'm here 24/7 to monitor everything you do.

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  21. Down with YP snobs!July 5, 2010 at 7:31 PM

    Hey pro-streetcar a-hole -
    I live in your hated suburbs, but I have an 89 year old home with a Rookwood fireplace, stained glass windows, and beautiful natural woodwork throughout. It has WAY more character than any of the crappy "bland cookie-cutter" condos you and your fellow urbanist snobs want built along the choo choo route in OTR.

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  22. Hey "Down with YP snobs":
    if your house is 89 years old, you aren't the suburbs I'm talking about. I'm talking about 1950's and after, GI bill funded white flight and more recently, mega-form sprawl ticky-tacks that basically decimated the city as we know it. Just do a satellite view of Butler county and you'll see the amazing spaghetti loop monstrosity that is neither sustainable, nor psychologically beneficial to its residents.
    And by the way, 95% of the buildings that 3CDC has renovated thus far have been non-occupancy reclaimed structures. And I am reclaiming a pre-1900 structure in Over-the-Rhine that has original peg, pre-nail construction throughout.
    Enjoy your Rookwood fireplace, they are quite nice.

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We follow the "living room" rule. Exhibit the same courtesy you would show guests in your home.