Monday, January 4, 2010

Drake Levy Officially Expires

Miracle of miracles! An agency actually drops off the tax rolls

December 31 was an important milestone in Hamilton County tax-fighting history.  On that date, the Drake Center ceased to be a recipient of County tax dollars. Prior to that date, the Drake Center and its 240 patients were receiving a monthly cash subsidy of more than $1 million, $14 million annually.

In 2004, COAST General Council Chris Finney Chaired the Hamilton County Tax Levy Review Committee and Phil Heimlich was President of the Hamilton County Commission.  Together, they uncovered massive waste at Drake Center, and demonstrated that no other rehabilitation facility like Drake in the nation received a similar local tax subsidy.  That year, a 5-year levy passed over their objections.

However, in 2006, Commissiones DeWine and Heimlich courageously negotiated a sale of the Drake Center to the Health Alliance.  Part of that deal was that after the expiration of the 2004 levy, the Drake Center would be operated without tax subsidy.

When the Health Alliance management team, led by skilled executive Karen Bankston took over, they revealed that the waste at Drake Center was even worse than Finney and Heimlich had uncovered.

Now, Drake Center’s quality measures are much improved, and it actually makes money every month, instead of hemorrhaging taxpayer cash.

COAST was instrumental in fighting the tax, against all of the predictable establishment organizations supporting the wasteful tax, including the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Cincinnati Post, the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO, and the United Way.  Of course, all of these organizations predicted unmentionable calamity of the taxpayer subsidy of the Drake Center’s was discontinued, and their predictions were dutifully supported by a study from the University of Cincinnati’s Center for Economic Studies.

So, celebrate this one small victory for common sense, in the face of all of the establishment nay-sayers who always think higher taxes are a dandy idea.

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