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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
|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.