Sunday, November 30, 2008

County Hearings on 2009 Budget

  • Wed., Dec. 3, 2008 at 6:30 PM
    Drake Center, Rooms F & G, Level A, West Pavilion,
    151 West Galbraith RoadCincinnati, Ohio 45216-1096

  • Wed., Dec. 10, 2008 at 6:30 PM
    Cincinnati State Technical & Community College
    3520 Central ParkwayCincinnati, Ohio 45223-2690
    (no room number given)

Will they do it again? Only last year, our liberal, democrat Hamilton County Commissioners Todd Portune and David Pepper imposed without a public vote a 1/2 cent sales tax increase. In his 2008 COAST candidate questionnaire, Todd Portune says he might do it again.

On Wednesday, December 3 and Wednesday, December 10, the Commission is holding public hearings on its 2009 Budget. The budget contains millions of wasteful spending, and evidence that our elected officials stubbornly refuse to reform County government.

They claim they don't have enough money for Sheriff's deputies or housing inmates, but in the past two years they have found $4 million in entirely new spending for Convention Center promotions, $75,000 for the Film Commission (and David Pepper's former girlfriend), and $26,000 for Planned Parenthood. Indeed, the Commissioners have nine employees on their staff. They are not cutting a single one of these positions as a part of the so-called deep cuts. Clearly safety is not their priority.

Please plan on attending these two public hearings and tell our Commissioners a tax increase now or in the future is unacceptable and that their mis-spending surely is setting us up for such a fall.

Here are the points COAST asks you to make at these hearings:

  1. They did it to us once before and are surely setting us up for it again -- another unvoted sales tax increase.

  2. Instead, they should reform County government operations, thoroughly and promptly.

  3. The Commissioners have stated and it is a general community consensus that public safety is a top priority. If this is so, then why has the County Administrator, hired and paid by our two democrat County Commissioners, established budget prioritization that places clearly lower-priority items below Sheriff patrols and incarcerating inmates? These include:

    a. Two decades ago, when the County population was 50% higher than it was today, the three County Commissioners had a total of one staffer between them. Today, that number is nine. How many positions are the Commissioners cutting from this bloated staff in the face of this crisis shortfall? Not one. Not a single solitary one. In fact, they have increased this line item of expenditure 2% in 2009. My goodness, even the County's Clerk has her own assistant!

    b. In 2007, upon the election of this current Commission majority, the County began a new policy of spending millions of new dollars on convention center promotion, a clear non-priority item. Admittedly this is in a segregated fund that can't be spent on safety, but we have repeatedly asked the Commission to seek state authorization to spend this windfall on our community's #1 priority, and the Commissioners refuse to even ask for that authorization. This coming year, that number will exceed $2 million of either wasted or certainly non-priority spending. In the face of the threat "people will die," this is utterly irresponsible on the part of our Commission. This income stream will generate an estimated $84 million over the life of the convention center tax.

    c. The Sheriff is sitting on more than $3 million in drug forfeiture funds. He claims these cannot be converted to public safety uses, but this is not completely true. First, $800,000 can be spent in any manner he likes., Second, the remaining funds can be "must be used to finance that office's law enforcement efforts relative to drug offenses." Thus, these monies could be completely converted to alleviating the patrol layoffs and the closing of Queensgate. Instead, the Sheriff spends these funds on his Bagpipe brigade, coloring books, donations to the Boy Scouts and teddy bears.

    d. The County has identified that it can achieve $250,000 in savings from combining and competitively bidding vehicle maintenance and yet it steadfastly refuses to implement this cost savings. In the face of the threat that "people will die," how can our elected officials justify ignoring this cost savings., Indeed, the Sheriff, who cries the loudest about budget cuts refuses to implement this simple reform.

    e. This Commission has gutted the managed competition commission empanelled by the prior County Commission. The Chairman resigns and a new chairman was never appointed. The notion that savings will emerge on their own is ludicrous, and this Commission has eliminated the focus on ferreting out savings from the bowels of the County. You are reaping the rewards from these poor decisions.

  4. In light of these obvious deviations from your stated priorities, and the choice to avoid reform, to state that public safety is a priority is a transparent lie. Your desire is to protect the waste and privilege that exists in this County to the detriment of the public.

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