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Another Tax Appeal From Council

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VietVet View Drop Down
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    Posted: Jun 29 2008 at 1:32pm
Sunday's Journal offered an article from Mulligan about- Surprise!- working people financing the road program, through a- Surprise!- city income tax of .25%( or .50%) This is about as blatant as it gets as to being a discriminatory tax. This tax penalizes people who work and draw an employer paycheck. News flash to Lawrence- IF we receive a raise at all for the year, it is in the 1-3% range. However, this is offset by gas prices, food prices and our contribution to pay more for our benefits from our employer. Lawrence made his appeal for the senior/retired vote by reminding them that they wouldn't have to pay taxes although they would still get to use the roads. This is coming on the heels of the .25% "Safety Levy" which produced--- what for us? Haven't really seen any advantage to that tax as yet. They refuse to downsize city government, they refuse to use other tax sources to contribute to this program, they refuse to get meaningful employment in this town to draw revenue. We've been here before- past councils have lied to the public about the programs and funding for the streets in 1987( what have they done since then to allow us to trust them?) The General Fund is still a mystery to most of us. Money has been hidden in "phantom budgets" that have yet to be explained. Message to Lawrence- like past councils, your council has done nothing to endear itself to the voting public. We can't trust you with additional money as you have not been honest and trustworthy. To most Middletonians, your group has a hidden agenda. Your decision making methods are not logical nor do they benefit or represent what we citizens want for our town. Your answer to fixing Middletown's problems is to tax the citizens out of their homes. No insight, no creative thinking- only tunnel vision from your group. If I haven't made it clear as yet- stay out of our wallets- find your revenue another way, hopefully, without damaging this town any further than you have already.People,it's time to clean house, once again, until we find the right combination to run this town.Enough of this nonsense.
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Pacman View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pacman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 30 2008 at 8:46am
Personally I think a .25% or .50%, take your pick, increase in payroll taxes is dead before it even makes it to Council for approval to be put on the Nov. Ballot.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tazman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 30 2008 at 9:11am
While I agree that the tax issue is probably dead and will be voted down, I'm just curious what others think the answer is.

If we don't tax earnings, what do they tax? Comsumption--as in when we have to buy groceries, goods (clothes etc), gasoline?

Maybe gasoline isn't a bad way to go--if you have a car, you'll be using the roads. However I'm not sure a local government can put a tax on gasoline--I think it has to be state level thing, but no real sure about that.

Maybe we should put a toll booth off 1-75 that way anyone coming into the city using the roads will have to pay to use the roads. You know it's been said Middletown is a bedroom committee--meaning folks living here work outside the city--so yeah--we'll tax 'em when we are leaving and coming home.

Any other brilliant ideas out there? (and don't waste your breathe trying to convince me the money is already in the budget.)

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HereIam Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 30 2008 at 9:37am
Our City Council should spend some time with Lebanon's City Council.  They seem to be able to budget to fix the streets without taxing the residents or businesses.  They have been undergoing a complete street replacement now for the past two years. and are doing it within their budget.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tazman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 30 2008 at 9:44am
Lebanon is a fair bit smaller than Middletown and has a lot more county roads. It's probably more the county's money than the city's money unless you are talking downtown Lebanon in the historic distirct.

There are also a lot more state routes running through the city which also require some state funding for improvements.

It isn't as simple as it seems.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 30 2008 at 9:56am
We could start by examining the damaging effect of the steel trucks that are making Rt. 122 lanes high in the middle and low in the wheel ruts. Based on the damage the trucks are making, looks like they need to pay more in road taxes for their upkeep. With the proposed increase in weight (120,000 lbs as opposed to the 80,000 lbs now) they will be deepening the ruts in the roadways even more. Probably need to reinforce the wheel area of the lanes with I beams under the pavement to prevent the sinking on Roosevelt and 122. IMO, the answer was to have brought more industry and business into town to pick up the bulk of this cost.Another way to pick up some money would be to downsize city government and place that money into the street funds.Contact asphalt research companies to offer the worst of Middletown's streets as test areas for experimental asphalt at no cost to the city. Unfortunately, past and present city councils have dropped the ball, diverted funds away from this program and basically drained the budget. Now, since industry/businesses aren't in place, they must try to force the citizens to pay the price. Until industry/businesses happen, no amount of sales tax, income tax, gas tax, toll both charges or property tax will finance the amount needed to fund this program. IMO, there is only one solution and it is not in place.To begin change, we need to change the thinking. To change the thinking , we need to change the people who are doing the current thinking. To change the people, we need to offer different candidates and vote the current crop of ineptness out.There is no immediate answer to funding the streets to acquire the amount of money needed.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tazman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 30 2008 at 11:50am
That all sounds good--but for change to happen there needs to be an abundance of people who are willing to get involved and participate in
the change--working proactively and positively. From those willing to be the scape goats (and run for council), people who don't have a private agenda and who have the funds to sustain their families while they work toward that goal.

Just like those who are calling for change at the federal level--I don't see any of it happening until we get rid of the lobbyist, PACs, and "other" interested parties that will benefit from having their hands in there pockets.

It's easy to call for change--it's easy to say we need to change.
It ultimately takes time and money. So now we are back to someone supporting the candidates that have money to help them get elected.

Firing the city staff doesn't mean the street will get fixed. In fact, it could have a negative effect on that--with delays and more money spent trying to figure out the mess that was left behind.

Changing the way one thinks is fine--as long as there is a long term plan that reflects the change you are trying to put in place. No matter what the change is, it still comes down to time and money.
Neither of which seems to be abundantly available.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 30 2008 at 10:21pm
Point well taken. Your comment about getting people involved is a big hurdle. We've tried to get people involved in the past with community meetings and discussion. Didn't work. Not enough interest to get up off the couch on a Sunday afternoon. Apathy reigns supreme in Middletown with the citizens. The potential candidates, worthy of supporting, that would operate differently, are working people with a major interest in the community but no money, no network of support people and no time, as you said, due to the hours on the job. They're too busy trying to pay the bills. So, we are left with the same old deadwood as candidates that have hidden agendas who have helped ruin this town. As for firing the city staff. We need to do that in some departments. If you saw the budgets and saw the staffing( Director, Assist Director, Team Leader all managing 5 workers) it would make sense to eliminate some of those higher paying management positions and put that money on a yearly basis into the street fund.No one needs three managers overseeing five workers. It's certainly not enough, but it's a start to build the fund. Roger?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tazman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 01 2008 at 9:32am
Vietvet,
Regarding apathy of the community--I agree with you.

However, I'm not down at the city building on a daily basis to comment on someone's livlihood/job to make a decision as to whether they should be fired or not. I was in a job where I had my accomplishments/contributions summarized for me while out on disability for emergency surgery. Upon returning, the nonsensical rhetoric and inept management made life not so good. After being judged this way and didn't like it, I refuse to make decisions on other people's work simply by superficial appearances. While also in this position, I had three full time projects to manage and was given a fourth and this is their quote, "because they knew I would execute it and get it done." (yes I asked if I was as inept as they said why give me more work?)Of course this was while others stood around and wasted hours talking about stupid TV "reality" shows. This was the private sector--but waste exists everywhere.

The people in the position to oversee wasted efforts hopefully are calling it out or will be if they haven't in the past. I'm not privy to all the details of the reorganization, but I'm willing to hear it out. It's a start--maybe it will begin to show our leaders those very things that you mentioned and further reorganization will occur. I know a change I would make, but as stated, I'm not in a position to judge fully the implications of my change. I can suggest it to my councilperson and city manager. I haven't been told I can't and I am considering it.

While I appreciate your passion for this city and wish others would get physically involved (and don't know if you are "physically involved since I don't know you), you are so right in stating that more will rather complain and do nothing. Frankly, I'm getting tired of hearing all the complaints and people expecting others to "fix" it. This also goes at the National level. "Change we can believe in"---"We need change." Well--what are you going to change? Tell me---don't just tell me "we need change". Man--that's freaking obivious! The devil is in the details, which they won't discuss and can't get in a 30 second sound bite. Same holds true here...it's at any level

This brings me back to the how do we do this (street improvement)? Are there other alternatives to the tax that we can come up with? We all scratch our heads and we all know that the roads are in terrible shape and will continue to get worse. In order to attract new businesses, you have to put your best foot forward--give a good impression. When you are courting a business and they see West Chester (even with all the traffic problems--but very nicely maintained roads) and compare it with Middletown--who are you going to choose? You have visitors coming to your company--the last thing you want to do is spend 15 minutes of your meeting talking about the poor road conditions and external look of the city.

We got here with some bad decisions, both by council and who was choosen to be city managers for the last 15 or so years. However, both council and the city managers at that time were getting input from their citizens. At this time the same cries were being made--"No more taxes." "You don't know how to run the city." "Don't do anything--bandaid it."   Seems we've been calling for change for a long long time.

Yesterday when I was thinking about this, I began to wonder two things--

"Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

And---
if things don't turn around and it continues to get worse--we all will be out fixing the roads--in a Works Program set up by the government. Remember what that program got us--all around this country?

Short of another depression or revolution, I don't see things changing as dramatically as we all would like. And unfortunately I don't have an answer to fix it. Well---not one the would be accepted and implemented.

Change requires intention and work. You can't just wish for it and not actively work toward it. So we can continue to complain and accept the outcome or we can start the change, working with the very people we are complaining about and fully make an intention to change. (but first we have to define the change we want--and getting agreement on that will be a difficult task).

There have been a number of people who have been trying to work toward changing things for the better. Keep Middletown Beautiful, Arts Central Foundation, Middletown Symphony, Downtown Revitalization, MUM, Middletown Arts Center, Rotary, Kiwanis, The Chamber, Broad Street Bash, Middfest, Ohio Balloon Challenge, Bikes and Blues....a long list and I could go on and on...but how many who sit here and complain really go out and support an event when it is held? How many are volunteering to help the organizations continue? How difficult would it be to attend one of the events these organizations put on--just attend--not complain it's artsy fartsy--not say it isn't going to save Middletown--not run it down before it gets started.   

It's not changing government--I know. But it shows pride in your community and change has to start somewhere. The more physically active people are in the community, the more opportunities will present themselves to enact positive change. We both agreed that apathy is a big problem here. Until a change in apathy is seen by the government, things will remain the same. It makes it easy for them to just give us the sound bite..."see I promised you change---oh--it isn't what you wanted? Sorry."

OK--off my soapbox. I need to get to work before I get fired!    
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 01 2008 at 11:39am
Appreciate the comments Tazman. You mentioned that we ought to work with the very people we are complaining about to effect change. That would be great if they had the attitude to share an open dialogue. I was on the street committee and got a first hand experience in dealing with three city council people, several city department supervisors, some bobblehead citizens that supported the council people and the department supervisors and then there were maybe two of us that were on the "other side of the fence" and didn't see things the same way. I offered suggestions and didn't feel like my opinions were welcomed. These members that I mentioned were either silent or if they did offer an answer, had a somewhat arrogant/sarcastic answer to present. At various times, there have been people in the community that have tried to talk to council members and city personnel, but they give you the impression that they don't have time for you and that what you say doesn't matter. The problem is- how does a citizen get their ideas through to a group of people who are not receptive to that citizens ideas and requests? Even in a captive environment like the 5:30PM session before a council meeting, you speak to them and they act like they could care less what you are saying. I have been downsized three times since 1994. I hardly have compassion for any reduction in workforce, as nowadays, it is the norm rather than the exception and should occur in both private industry and in local government. No one can justify three managers to 5 workers in any situation. Two of the three managers are wasted money just by default. Nothing personal by this. I don't know the managers in the city building, nor their performance level. I only know that when I see this ratio of management to worker, I know it's not correct in any situation. Two of the three managers are enjoying a cakewalk job at the taxpayer's expense and they need to go. This city needs to free up as much money as it can to plow into the street fund. That includes savings on downsized people doing duplicate or non-essential jobs. Time to double up job duties and do more with less like we have been doing for years in the private sector.As to your comment on attending the Broad St Bash, Blues and Bikes, etc.- Nothing wrong with that, but going to these to show community pride is, IMO, not going to address the real problems. IMO, community pride can be brought back by city induced opportunities for the citizens to upgrade their lifestyles through meaningful employment. If the citizens can have choices for decent paying jobs in this town, if they are halfway competent, they will start upgrading their lifestyles by purchasing better homes, cars and in entertainment and shopping opportunities. Money will flow among businessess and the citizens, tax money will be stimulated by these jobs and purchases and needed programs will begin to be funded without the rampant levy attempts every other year.The city is always crying about needed revenue. There's your revenue gained while you grow the town and make it progressive. In the meantime, Middletown stands as the land that time forgot.DECENT PAYING JOBS-DISPOSABLE INCOME-PURCHASES- MONEY FLOW/TAXES = TOWN GROWTH/OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE PEOPLE.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tazman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 01 2008 at 12:47pm
I don't disagree that a major problem is the jobs/companies loss in this community. Like you, have been here through the decline.

I also know that when I voice my opinion I don't expect it to be adopted as the answer. I also don't expect it to be ignored. The decision is ultimately those who we have elected and who they appoint.
That, fortunately or unfortunately, is democracy. And I'll agree that most the time our choices are limited. ;-)

I can understand what you are saying and we probably approach this in two different ways.

I don't think we have the alternative answer yet...but I do thank you for trying to get your point across and volunteering for the street committee. There have been a number of times that I've called my Senators in Washington (or councilperson here in Middletown)to express my support or rejection of a bill that was coming for a vote. I was typically on the losing side of that battle. But I voiced the opinion and in some countries that can't be done. Not meaning to sound preachy or "Gosh isn't America wonderful?" etc....just noting that typically I'm on the losing side too when it comes to getting my opinion recognized.

I agree we need to attract businesses/companies here--get more good paying jobs here and the surrounding area (a feat that Ohio, Butler and Warren counties have a major job accomplishing)so that we start generating that income. Agree that is the key to a lot of Middletown's issues. But...

What do we do in the meantime? It will take years to attract big business here...especially in this national economy.

Guess the only thing to say is don't give up trying to reach these folks--you certainly have some passion. If working with them publicly doesn't work, then meet 'em privately to find out why your opinion isn't being acknowledge. It might be a painful discussion, but it might turn out better than you think.

Thanks for your time and thoughtful dialogue.
Think we've beat this horse enough--as I said--I don't have the answers, but do know where I want this community to go.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pacman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 02 2008 at 9:33am
DOA as predicted.Thumbs%20Down
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