Earlier today I posted
As a resident of Huber Heights Tom McMasters is voting No on Issue 25
There is no conflict in these votes
This article explains my logic.
To ensure my reputation as a terrible politician stays intact, I start by talking about the significant reasons voting against Issue 25 might not be the right choice. Only after I explain the risks you will be taking if you follow my lead do I tell you how the city will be better off if Issue 25 fails this election.
But before I start that long essay, I'm told poeple like bullet points so here goes:
Reasons I am leary of voting no:
- No or Yes should not be the community's default vote on taxes. A victory in showing council is currently not responsible might get in the way if they actually become responsible.
- Having new city offices, a new senior center, a new public works building and a park on Dial road are not horrible ideas.
- Council's race to delete the General Fund since May means that 20% or so of the costs of those projects probably can't be recovered.
- If the city had not wasted so much on major projects such as the Marion Meadows purchase then we could have all the projects, stronger emergency services and parks. The key to not wasting this money is publishing the costs / revenues of these projects. A no vote would encourge going back to this practice.
- The current levy does not expire until 2025. The amount of funds available for police, fire, parks, roads, sewers in 2024 will be the same whether the levy passes in November or not. Making council nervous will force them to do the required work to optimize our tax dollars.
- Having lower tax rates would be good for city development.
Back to the Main Article:
For me, the absolute most difficult part of campaigning against Issue 25 is knowing that if I can convince enough residents to vote against the levy again, this might lead residents to vote no on every proposal.
We can see this in school levies. At one time a school board could show you the starting teacher’s salary, everyone would look at that and be dismayed and vote yes on the school levy to help that poor starving teacher. Then the public found out that instead of raising the salaries of the poor starving teachers, the school boards had been raising salaries “equally” for everyone. This resulted in the employee making $20,000 a year getting a $600 raise and still starving, while the employee making $150,000 a year got a $4,500 raise and took multiple cruises. Once everyone realized they were being duped, passing a school levy became impossible.
Today Huber Heights City Council pulls at your heart strings like school boards in the past did. They are trying to dupe you into believing that if you want good emergency services, you have to pass their levy.
Make no mistake, if you vote No this election, we may never get another levy passed in this city, even if the reason for the levy is legitimate. This reality is the hardest thing for me to get over while advising you to vote No this election.
Not nearly at the same level as reason one above, another reason I considered not campaigning against passage of the levy this election is because I kind of wouldn’t be against the new city buildings council desires. I definitely would not be against them if council had decided to go to residents and ask them for the money to build them. As a starting position, I am for lower taxes, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be convinced to pay for things that we as a community believe we need to pay for. If the residents of Huber Heights believe a new senior center is needed and are willing to pay for it, I support this and will make sure the money spent to achieve this is collect and spent responsibly. I think that if council put this to a vote, there is a good chance it would pass. Knowing this, I considered not campaigning against the levy even if council is lying about why they want it to pass.
The last consideration that makes it hard to campaign against the levy is that it is no longer true that the General Fund is at record levels. This was true in May but since that time Council has been racing to deplete the General Fund so they can claim poverty when it comes to being able to pay for additional police and fire positions. They have not been totally successful. There is still plenty of money available to keep the commitment I make at the beginning of this article and fund 63 police positions. However, in their race to spend down the General Fund, council has made it so that a lot of money will be tied up for quite some time with very little likelihood it leads to new building in the near future. If residents never get behind these projects, that money will be wasted. I’d hate to see this money wasted.
Those are three considerations that I had to overcome in deciding to campaign against the levy. So ,if you decide to vote No because of what I write next, and the levy fails, I hope you come with an open mind the next time a city levy is on the ballot.
So why vote against the Levy?
Council is wasting more money on discretionary projects than what the levy brings in (probably). If we stop them from wasting that money, we may not need the levy. I include probably at the end of the sentence because Council refuses to provide us the information needed for us to know if that statement is true or false. We know from history that when council plans things in executive session and refuses to provide actual costs in an easy to examine format, their projects waste taxpayer money.
This was true for the new golf course project that led to the City building Carraige Trails Boulevard at Taxpayer expense, then having the developer place large concrete barriers at both ends so residents couldn’t use it. This was true for the Aquatic Center that when finally revealed after scores of executive sessions had a price tag of $6 million dollars but ended up costing $10 million dollars.
We know from history that when major projects are planned and executed under the watchful eye of residents they can come in on time and on budget. This was the case for the construction of the Music Center, operations of the Rose Music Center and new Fire Station.
It’s pretty obvious today that the secret meetings used to arrange the purchase of the Marion Shopping center have led to the city spending at least twice as much as the city led us to believe was going to be necessary. Even at this higher cost, none of the expressed goals the city had for that area going into the purchase are going to happen except the demolition of some of the old buildings. We can still make this project successful and with the help that comes with transparency, we may be able to prevent enough waste to make up for the $1.5 million dollars the levy is expected to bring in. I believe a reason we should vote no again this election is to encourage council to go back to those policies that help prevent waste. Vote no so that we get the transparency that almost certainly will prevent millions of dollars of waste.
One thing that is true this election, just like it was in May. The current levy does not expire until 2025. We can give council more time to act responsibly. There are two more elections before the current levy expires which means next year the police and fire services will have the same amount of funding available whether Issue 25 passes or fails.
One thing that is not true today that was true in May – The City’s General Fund being at record levels. The wait to renew action is very appropriate to discourage this council and future councils from engaging in the practice of trying to blackmail residents because they are too lazy to make a good argument for their pet projects. Yes, normally it would take more work to get 50% of the residents to approve a levy for new buildings than it is to lie to residents about needing the money for emergency services. We need to make sure they know that lying really does result in a lot of extra work.
Could we end up with new city offices and full police and fire manning if the levies never pass?
Yes, that is a very real possibility. I personally believe that would be true today if we had all the money that would have been saved if council was doing the planning for Marion Meadows and the rest of the Transformational Economic Development programs in public. If the secret planning of the Aquatic Center made that $6 million dollar project cost $10 million and the TED projects have already cost $10 million with no end in sight, it is feasible to that our General Fund would be $4 million dollars higher today than it is. That would make up for more than 2 years of the levy’s projected income.
What I really am intrigued with is how a lower tax rate would change the likelihood of attracting companies to build offices where high salaried people work. There are two reasons so many major contractors that support WPAFB have their offices in Beavercreek. One is proximity and the other is the Beavercreek has no city income tax. Huber Heights will never have a zero percent income tax. However, if residents show a commitment to a 1.75% income tax that will entice businesses to build. The new Buccees that we have been hearing about will attract other business but the other thing to point out is that area is less than a 5 minute drive to WPAFB. That high profile business will very likely call attention to that fact and with a 1.75% income tax, businesses will be looking to build real offices there.
Council has promised us that if we allow them to jam hundreds of apartments and dozens of new gas stations in the city, that development would ease our tax burden. That would probably be true today if they weren’t wasting our money in executive sessions. Though I hope that we all keep an open mind next May or next November when we are deciding on the renewal levy, I am comfortable putting council’s promise to the test, Voting No on Issue 25 and seeing if all this development really will be worth my commute taking and additional 30 minutes a day.
For those that have read this far. Thank you. As you might recall, I do not take monetary campaign contributions. Turns out this year I promised my wife I would not be spending any money campaigning either. I do have some campaign signs left over from previous campaigns. If you would like one for your yard, I will bring it over. Email me at Tom_McMasters@huberResidents.org or message me on Facebook messenger. If you are a supporter, it would be even more helpful to my campaign if you talk me up with your neighbors and share this webpage HuberResidents.org with them as well.
Thank you in advance.