The Trustees recently distributed a mailer to the residents in Springfield Township.  Much of the information was only partially presented, and without the full context.  Because we have attended all the public meetings and also reviewed detailed township budgets for the past several years, we are providing the rest of the facts for your consideration.

Here are the numbers:

  1.  The Trustees state that operating revenue for the General Fund has been reduced by 53% due to actions taken by the Ohio State Legislature.  What they don’t mention is that the General Fund is only one of 28 different funds in the Township’s total budget.  For 2013, the General Fund was $3 million out of a total budget of $28 million – that is only 11% of the total budget.  Additionally, the 53% cut is only for a part of the revenue known as the Local Government Fund which was $349,772 in 2013.
  2. The Trustees state they need to replace $1 million in revenue to make up for the gap.  This is only 3% of the total budget.  That’s $0.03 on the dollar.  This is something that could easily be achieved through responsible spending and without major impacts to township services.
  3. They claim to have reduced General Fund expenditures by 35%.  Here’s the truth – they spent heavily in 2012 and then simply brought 2013 spending back to historical levels.
2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
General Fund Expenses $3,338,959 $3,523,245 $3,029,474 $4,024,804 $3,400,710

The township Trustees claim that if the JEDZ doesn’t pass, further cuts will result in service reductions that will cause “irreparable damage” to the township.  The only thing that will cause “irreparable damage” is entering a 70 year contract with Mount Healthy to enact a municipal earnings tax.  This “partnership” will adversely affect our community in ways that we can’t even imagine.  The trustees will be dead and gone before this contract expires, and it will tax several future generations to come.  It’s not right, especially when the Trustees have publically stated they cannot accurately plan for even a 5 year budget.

They claim that they will use this money to implement the “Comprehensive Neighborhood Master Plan.”  Really?  They have had this “master plan” for how long now?  They didn’t do anything to implement it before this budget crunch, and this $1 million they hope to steal out of the pockets of the hard working employees and business owners of the community isn’t going to make it possible either.

They say that they only have 2 choices, raise property tax or pass the JEDZ.  What about making cuts?

They claim to “understand the current tax burden” of property owners.  Do they?  These business owners pay property tax that fund the township services too.  But it’s OK to take another 1.5% of their hard earned profits and redistribute it as they see fit.  This 1.5% earnings tax, on top of the already high property taxes, creates one of the highest tax burdens in the state for business.  This WILL cause businesses to leave, and at the very least it will cause them to raise prices in an effort to remain profitable.  The trustees have also stated that even if the JEDZ passes, they will eventually have to put a property tax increase on the ballot.  Notice that even the language on their mailer leaves this possibility open.  It says “Trustees do not want to propose additional property taxes for General Fund needs at this time.

The mailer also states that if you don’t work in the township that this won’t affect you.  This is wrong.  This tax affects EVERYONE.  The businesses that have to pay this tax will need to get the money from somewhere, especially the mom and pop places that are already struggling in a down economy.  This may be the tipping point that causes them to close their doors for good!  Also, think about our police officers and firefighters that have not had a raise in 3 years, now they want to take an additional 1.5% of their paychecks?  What about our teachers at Finneytown Schools that got a 0.8% raise last year?  This tax will certainly wipe that out!  And what about our local ministers and church workers who for the first time ever will have to pay this tax even though they are part of a non-profit organization?

THERE ARE MANY THINGS THAT CAN BE CUT!  Why are we paying for two assistant police chiefs?  Why do we allow high level employees to “double dip” (retire with pension, then get re-hired as contractors at full pay) instead of hiring someone, perhaps younger, with a little less experience, that we can pay less money?  Why are we donating salaries for 2-3 individuals plus benefits, supplies, operating expenses, etc. for the Arts & Enrichment Council which is a separate non-profit organization? Why are we paying such enormous salaries and exorbitant perks to people who work for the township?  Our administrator makes almost $140,000 per year, doesn’t pay a dime towards his health benefits, gets an allowance for car, gas, etc…  They’re paying secretaries and personal assistants $50k/yr!  You don’t make that much after a 4 year degree coming out of college!  It’s outrageous.  Why is the Township paying $1500/month for a high-powered lobbyist, and why have they also engaged a marketing company to work on promoting the JEDZ?

Why do we need 17 parks?  Many of them don’t even get used!  If you ask anyone in the township, which park to do you go to?  They will say “Winton Woods.”  Winton Woods is maintained by the county.  It would not be affected if the JEDZ doesn’t pass.  The township has already instituted fees for field usage, and the township gets those funds.  Instead, allocate those funds specifically to contract with a lawncare service to mow the fields.  That’s basically all the township does to maintain the parks, and the reason they are saying that they would have to be closed is that the township would need to let go one of their full-time service workers who mows the grass.  So our solution is to make those parks self-sustaining by using the field fees (that the teams pay to practice and play on the fields) to maintain the fields.  Seems pretty straight forward…  And if they argue that certain fields aren’t getting much use and therefore aren’t generating much in field usage fees, then it makes sense to close those barely-used parks and move those teams to one of the other nearby parks in the township.

The threat to close the Senior and Community Arts Center is an OUTRIGHT LIE!  At a budget meeting on December 26 (the day after Christmas) at 8am, the trustees held a special budget meeting hoping no one would show up.  We recorded the meeting, it is on our website.  During this meeting they admitted that the Senior Center and Grove Banquet Hall which the township operate are self-sustaining and will probably even turn a profit in 2014.  If that’s the case, why would they close them?  The simple answer is, they wouldn’t.  This is simply a scare tactic to convince the seniors of the community to vote for this 70 year tax, and it’s wrong for them to use these folks in this manner.

If you’re not completely disappointed by your elected officials, you should be.  They had the opportunity to provide full transparency, but instead chose to share only selected facts in the mailer to support their position.

Kyle and Tina were on “Newsmakers” yesterday on Local 12 debating some of the township officials.  Unfortunately the time went by very quickly and there were some things we didn’t get a chance to offer a rebuttal on, but we think it went well overall.  I seriously doubt the township will post this video to their website as it shows the other side of the issue.  We don’t mind having a fair and open debate, so here you go.  I will admit that I don’t think we won this debate, but we didn’t lose it either.  I think we held our own, even though the township officials got a little more time than we did.

Click here to watch the video, it’s a 30 minute show…

For the past several weeks, we have been going door to door passing out flyers to the residents, trying to get our side of the issue out to the voters.  Our campaign has been very successful so far, we have put out a ton of yard signs, but we still have a lot of ground to cover.  You can help us by posting these flyers at your place of business, or talking to your friends and neighbors about the JEDZ.  You can use these flyers to learn some more about the issue and to also help you articulate the complexities of the JEDZ to people.  This is not a simple issue, it is very complicated and confusing to most folks, and there is a lot of misinformation floating around.

Aside from the flyers we have be passing out, we have also been planning to send a mailer out to all residents of the township.  There are some small pockets of the township that will be missed by the mailer, but we will be delivering those ourselves in door/mailbox hangers in order to make sure everyone sees our message before May 6.  Please see the two links below for a copy of the flyer we are using door to door and also the mailer that will go out to all residents before the May 6 primary election.

And please, share these with your friends, neighbors and customers!

Click here for the flyer we have been distributing door to door.

Click here for the mailer we plan to send out to the residents.

The CIC or Community Improvement Corporation grant program that is currently being set up by the township in preparation for the upcoming JEDZ tax is a grant that anyone who lives in the township and pays the earnings tax can apply for at the end of the year to “make them whole.”  The people who have to pay the tax, people who work in the township and the businesses that will pay this out of their net profit still have to pay the tax.  When you get your W2 in January from your employer, you would need to submit that to the township, along with an application for the grant and proof of residency.  The township would then cut you a check for the amount that you paid into the JEDZ.  Yesterday, in an “October Surprise” type of moment, the township also announced that businesses that operate in the township whose principle owners (50% or more) reside in the township would also qualify for the grant for the 1.5% of their net profit that they paid into the JEDZ.

Yesterday was the first time this has ever been mentioned in a public meeting.  We had a lot of questions about this, such as – what if it’s a 3-way partnership and no one owns 50%?  One of our group members also owns 51% of his company, and his partner who owns 49% also lives in the township. Does that mean the minority partner will not receive the grant but the majority owner would?  This question was unanswered yesterday, but this morning after the CIC meeting, Chris Gilbert and Mark Berning told us that as long as a 50% or more owner resides in the township and applies for the grant, it is good for the entire amount that the company paid, regardless of the percentage owned by other owners of the business.  So we would assume that this also extends to other owners who do not live in the township as long as the principle (50% or more) owner resides in the township.

While this is all well and good, and we do appreciate the township trying to be as fair and equitable in this matter as possible, we still stand against the JEDZ as a whole.  We feel that the CIC is nothing more than a mechanism in which the township can more or less buy votes from people who work in the township and also reside in the township.  It certainly does make the tax a little bit more palatable, knowing that you will get that money back at the end of the year, but it adds a lot of extra hoops to jump through and further complicates an already complicated process for filing and paying taxes every year.  It also has a certain “Big Brother” element to it, in which the township will now have access to all of your personal data if you apply for the grant.  Many of us feel that the township has no business knowing how much we get paid, how much profit our business makes or to have access to sensitive data such as our social security numbers, etc.

The CIC grant also allows the township trustees, township administrator and some of the administration staff, as well as the police chief, fire chief and others in leadership roles to get a grant back at the end of the year for the amount they paid.  We feel that if the township officials are for this tax and think that it is needed to “save” our community, they should have to pay it.  We don’t know whether or not they will apply for the grant, but the fact that they have created a way in which they can receive that money back is concerning to us, especially considering that these public employees that get paid from our tax dollars, in many cases are making double to triple the salary of the average taxpayer who pay their salaries through property tax in the township, or the employees of the township who will have to pay into this new earnings tax.

Make no mistake, we are still steadfast in our opposition against this measure and we will continue to take the township officials to task on this and other issues that we think are wrong.  There are several reasons that we feel they extended this grant program to the business owners.  First of all, there are not many business owners who reside in the township, so this will not be a big net loss for them.  It will possibly get them a few more votes in favor the JEDZ, but as I said, this affects very few people.  We really feel that this was an attempt at some last minute election shenanigans in which they thought this might sway two folks in particular involved with the leadership of our group to go along with the proposal and to stop fighting them.  It didn’t work.  We have been against this proposal from the beginning, and we are still against it, and we will still fight until the end to defeat this unfair and unjust taxation without representation.

If you have any questions, please contact us for clarification.  We just want to make sure we are putting factual information out and that all parties get to see it.  Even if some feel this may hurt our cause, we don’t believe that it will and we also want to shine a spotlight on this to highlight the general feeling that it really seems like the rules are being made up as they go along, and clearly things are subject to change at any time.  That change may go against us at some point as well, so be prepared for that.  The CIC is not included in the JEDZ contract, it is a separate entity entirely, so it could just “go away” at any time.

Here is the link to the video from last night’s trustee meeting.  Things got a little heated in the public comment section of the meeting, and they didn’t have answers for all of our questions.  I did receive some clarification about the CIC stuff this morning, and I will make another post about that soon.

Enjoy.

The president of our group, Kyle Hufford, will represent the Stop The JEDZ effort this Sunday morning at 6am on Local 12 on the “Newsmakers” show.  Make sure you tune in, he will be debating Mike Hinnenkamp and Joe Honerlaw from the township about the JEDZ.  It will also air on the CW at 10:30am.  If you can’t watch it when it broadcasts, please remember to set your DVR!  We should also have a link to the video on Local 12′s website after it airs as well.

Should be interesting!  We will post the video here as soon as we have it!

Here is the video from this morning’s meeting.  It was relatively short, about 10 minutes give or take a few.  This was basically just the first meeting of the CIC to elect officers and set future meeting dates, etc.  They must not have worked very hard on their pre-meeting rehearsal this time, because it seemed amateur at best as far as their ability to follow the correct procedures.  I couldn’t keep myself from laughing a few times, I hope that didn’t show up on the audio!

They have another special meeting scheduled for next Wednesday, April 9 at 8am and then their next “regular” meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 12 at 8am.  We will be covering those meetings as well, so stay tuned!

We just got a sunshine notice this evening regarding a special meeting at 8am on Wednesday, April 2, in which the township trustees plan to meet to discuss the formation of the CIC (Community Improvement Corporation) which will be used to buy votes from residents who work in the township.  It will also allow the trustees and other administration officials to exempt themselves from having to pay the JEDZ earnings tax.  The CIC grant will allow them to get the money back that they paid into the JEDZ at the end of the year.  Please show up for this very important meeting if you can.  We need to let them know we are watching and we will hold their feet to the fire!

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