Mayor Gore Honest? or Smart?  [candidate comparison part 2]

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Jeff Gore and I got into a Facebook back and forth the other day.  Here is the Readers Digest Version (I post the whole conversation with analysis later so you can confirm this version is accurate).

The original post asked why we don’t get better police enforcement.

I respond because council decides to spend money on Veteran memorials instead of police officers

Jeff Gore says that even if council did not spend the money on that project there wouldn’t be money for police officers because that money comes from a fund that can only be spent on infrastructure. 

However, back in 2014/2015, when the City decided to build the new Fire station, it was decided to pay the $2.4 million cost using two different funds.  $1.4 million was from the TIF district created around the new Fire Station.  $1.0 million would come from the income tax levy established circa 2005.  The rules of that income tax levy said it was to be used for building the fire station or paying salaries.  That means if the city decided to take $1 million dollars of the TIF money they planned to use to build the Veteran Memorial and use it to pay for the Fire Station instead, then that would free up $1 million dollars, from the income tax levy, to pay salaries. 

Mayor Gore’s contention that there was not a trade off made between funding the Memorial or hiring more Police Officers is a prime example of the kind of misinformation he spreads all the time.  There was a trade off made and the City decided not to pay for police officers but instead pay for the Veterans memorial.

The question becomes does Jeff Gore spread misinformation because he doesn’t understand complex issues or does he do it on purpose in order to deceive. 

In the first article in the comparison of mayoral candidates, Mayor Gore earned a B on understanding complex issues and an F on honesty.  This is because I’ve always had the impression, he knows what he is doing and deceives on purpose.  My perception may not have been accurate. Its possible he may not understand complex issues. 

The rest of this article is long and complex.  In it I provide the entire Facebook back and forth I mention above along with backgrond info and thoughts on how each response relates to understanding complex issues and honesty.  Before you head into the rest of the article, be in the right mindset.  This will take all the concentration of playing chess, doing mathematical proofs and solving crossword puzzles. 
Before I jump to the back-and-forth Facebook conversation, there is a thing or two I should clean up from the lead in paragraphs.  First, I did not look up the exact amount of the final Fire Station budget.  I am pretty sure $2.4 million was a number discussed for a long time. 
More importantly, go back and look at my example.  Notice I used the words salary not police salary.  That’s because, before that $1 million from the Fire Income Tax levy could be used for police salaries, there would have to be another transfer.  $1 million dollars that is currently going to Fire salaries from the General Fund will have to now come from the Fire Income Tax levy.  That will free up $1 million from the General Fund to pay Police Salaries.  I told you that these are complex issues (or at least have a lot of steps).  That’s why it is so hard to clean up the misinformation Mayor Gore spreads.  There is one part of the information he gives that is not false.  TIF dollars can only be spent on infrastructure, but it takes many sentences to explain how budgeting actually works and he knows most people are not going to read all those many sentences. 

For those of you still interested in solving puzzles and engaging your minds.  Here is the back-and-forth conversation between me and Jeff. 

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Here is a little back ground on my mindset when I saw this post.  I had been thinking about writing a comparison of the mayoral candidates for quite a while but I had not yet started writing.  Part 1 of that comparison is now available.  As I noted there, my expectation was for the composition to conclude that Glenn was the second-best candidate in the race.  That is a difficult conclusion to write for two reasons.   One being the Glenn and I have a decent relationship.  The second being the perception that Mayor Gore’s deception is so ingrained and so prevalent you can’t really be sure he is not using his position to enrich himself.  So, like I conveyed in the first article, I was hoping Glenn would do something positive, like providing evidence he supported transparent government by swear out an affidavit, so I could at least write a neutral article.  Even when that didn’t occur, I thought, maybe he voted no on the Veterans Memorial.  Don’t get the wrong impression.  When the organizers of the memorial were trying to fund it through private donations, I was at the pancake breakfasts and laying the foundation for acquiring space in our parks.  But if it comes down to paying $1.5 million for a Veterans Memorial or paying for more police officers or refurbishing the water lines faster, I choose police and water over memorials.  Just the day before the post above appeared, I looked up how Glenn voted.  Although you might get the impression from Mayor Gore’s campaign ads that he alone made the trade-off of spending money on the memorial instead of fixing more waterlines, Glenn also is responsible.  With those thoughts fresh in my mind, I reflexively made the comment below.  Keep in mind Jeff Gore would not have known any of this background when he decides to engage. 

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I need to note that one of the readers of my comment pointed out that I overestimated the number of years you could pay two officers using $1.5 million.  A better estimate is about seven years. 

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We already discussed the misinformation he spreads about moving the money.  Interestingly, the next sentence includes something that is not verifiable.  The funding will be from the Heathermere TIF.

I was excited to read, “the Veterans Memorial will be paid for by the TIF revenue from the new condos being built on Bellefontaine and Heathermere.”  As you may recall, when this development was in front of council, I proposed they create a non-school TIF for this development.  [A good use for that money would be to create a different entryway into new development.  Planning commission and the developers would have preferred the other proposed entryway but because there is a natural gas line that runs there, it was cost prohibitive to run a road there – unless you used the TIF dollars for the kinds of infrastructure that is supposed to be purchased with TIF dollars (roads, sewers, waterlines, sidewalks)].  Since the time when I first proposed the TIF for this area, I have been looking for council to take action.  While reading the mayor’s statement, I thought perhaps I missed when council created it, so I did a search of all the meeting agenda items.  I was unsuccessful in finding any evidence that this TIF has been created or it exists or is in the planning stage to exist.  Keep in mind there is about a six-month process to create a TIF and if the houses/condos are built and make it to the tax rolls before the TIF is created, the TIF does not generate any money for the city.   

Not getting the TIF created in time was an issue of the Lexington Place TIF.  You may not recall, but I proposed a TIF for that new development when I was in office.  After not seeing any action on it but seeing houses being built, a year or so after I left office, I went to a council meeting and spoke advocating that they get to work on creating the TIF.  They did and now the money from that TIF is projected to fund a lot of the west side of Chambersburg Road work that needs to be done to support the new traffic expected because of the new houses. 

Here is the part of that experience that made me think that Mayor Gore is deceptive, instead of unaware.  When the city was talking about how much the TIF would raise and how much they planned to receive from the TIF, the amount they expected to receive was about 90% of how much it could raise.   The City Manager told us they were doing this because they wanted to be conservative.  Interestingly though, because the City dilly dallied around, there were already houses on the tax role by the time the TIF was created.  In this situation the city would never collect the theoretical amount the city could have made, based on the number of houses built.  I pointed this out to the Mayor and Council and when the Mayor failed to make the City Manager correct the deception, I proceeded as if the Mayor was a full participant in the deception.  Now that there is a lot of question on whether the Mayor really understands how things work, and knowing that he already plans to spend money from the Heathermere TIF, it would be good if someone that can catch his attention would make sure that the process for creating that TIF is either complete, like his post would indicate, or will at least be in time so that when it is created it will generate money for the city. 

How complicated, how in-depth do you want to go in knowing what should be considered when making a decision like if a TIF should be created?  Because I am about to blow a lot of people’s minds. Not really a lot of people in sheer numbers, but a high percentage of people that made it to this point.  Why, because I know that when a non-school TIF is created some of that money, in fact a pretty large portion of it, comes from sources used to fund City of Huber Heights police officers and fire fighters.  A back of the envelop calculation tells me that of the $1 million dollars that Mr. Gore says will come out of the new Hethermere TIF fund to pay for the Veterans Memorial, $300,000 will come from the police and fire property tax levy and inside millage that the City collects and uses to pay for police and fire operations.  Are confused yet? Have you perceived an apparent contradiction?  I started this comment thread with a remark saying that the money spent on the Veterans Memorial would be better spent on police but in this article, I tell you that I would create TIFs that I know get some of their money from police and fire.  Seems like a contradiction. 

Right now, I am tempted to write, that Jeff Gore obviously is willing to trade the $300,000 of police funds so he could get $1 million dollars to pay for a Veterans memorial.  That is what he says he is ok with, but I am not sure he actually knows that this is what he is doing.  This came up previously when I tried to explain that we should not be supplementing the profits of the Carriage Trails developers by giving them $18,000 per lot of TIF money.  The counter he used when talking to his followers was that the amount of money that the city collects from the police and fire property tax is only 5% of the property tax so it is inconsequential.  This of course is the wrong way to look at things.  First of all, because Carriage Trails is a non-school TIF, most of the property tax money still goes to the school so the City’s contribution to the TIF fund is about 30% not 5%.  More importantly if you look at 5% of the property taxes of a normal house in Carriage Trails and you compare that to the expected amount a resident could expect to pay because of Police and Fire portion of the City income tax you will see that they are essentially the same.  So, if residents in Carriage Trails or the new Heathermere development would normally pay $250 in Police and Fire property tax and $250 in the Police and Fire portion of the City income tax and you take away the $250 in property tax, then for Carriage Trails and Heathermere you are taking away about half the funding you would normally get for Police and Fire.  As you can tell by the fact that I am advocating for the creation of the Heathermere TIF there are times when I believe this is appropriate and make this conscious choice.  Keep in mind by choosing to put in $250, the city gets about $550 more, or $800 total.  If it is possible to use that TIF money to pay for the new fire station like it could be used I think everyone would be for it.  I would trade $250 to get $800 more of water line replacement.  I think it would even be a responsible trade to use it to make sure the new Heathermere development access roads were properly in place. 

To sum things up.  Every TIF will get some of its money from funds that normally go to police and fire.  So, if you are using TIF money to pay for a Veterans Memorial, you are using police and fire funds to pay for the memorial.  Because in a non-school TIF you get about 3 times more money than you put in, sometimes it makes sense to create that TIF.  It all depends on your priorities.  For instance, if you collect $1 million in TIF money, $300,000 would come from police and fire property taxes but most people would be ok on spending this on a fire station.  For many people they would choose to give up $300,000 of police and fire property taxes in order to be able to use $1 million pay for more waterline repairs (but they also would be giving away the opportunity to spend that money on a new fire station or a Veterans Memorial).  Others, although a fewer number choose to spend that million dollars on a memorial and give up the opportunity to hire police officers or replace more waterlines.  My issue with Mayor Gore is that he does not acknowledge that we as residents are making these trade-offs.  Nor is he willing (or perhaps able) to give residents correct information so they can provide educated feedback when council makes those trade-offs.  Instead, he gives misinformation indicating there are no trade-offs.  I’ve always thought his misinformation was done on purpose in order to deceive.  I am not so sure today.  It is quite possible he just does not understand the process good enough to know he is making those trade-offs. 

Technically, this is one of the compositions in the comparison of the two mayoral candidates and I have said nothing yet about Glenn Otto.  If you have read the first article, and up to this point of this article, you know that I gave Mayor Gore an F in honesty and a B in understanding complex issues based on a perception that he understood things like TIF funding, but was purposely giving misinformation.  Now I may have to reassess the F in honesty because in order to lie, there has to be intent.  If you don’t understand the issue and say things that are wrong, that should not be a ding on honesty.  But that means Mayor Gore’s rating on understanding complex issues also needs to be adjusted.  I give Glenn a D on complex issues.  Our conversations about TIF funding has a lot to do with that rating.  I’ve had multiple conversations about TIF being an important tool for the City to use.  But like any tool, it can be used wrong and created a lot of damage when it is used wrong.  But when used right it can create a lot of benefit.  We have never had a conversation that shows he comprehends the difference and generally the conversations end with his saying something like, well I don’t like TIFs and I’ll never use them.  For understanding complex issues both probably deserve the same D rating. 

Before reading the rest of the conversation I do want to say that I appreciate the paragraph Mayor Gore writes about the traffic town hall and speaking with the Police Chief.  One thing that makes good sense is that changes do not make things perfect overnight.  There are a lot of caveats to accepting everything Jeff states in that paragraph and judging that he capitalized YEARS as an attempted dig at the staffing level while I was mayor, it might be tempting to write those caveats out.  However, if I did write those out it would take away from how much I want it to be known that I do appreciate the traffic control unit and understand the results will not be seen overnight. 

Of course, the rest of this Facebook back and forth happened before I composed the paragraphs above or captured the video that you can find at the end of this article.

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The link in the post I provided goes to the agenda item that leads to the resolution passed by council that authorized a budget for the project of $1.5 million.
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Mayor Gore's statement here, "I think you used the same tactic when you ran for mayor claimin that the building of the music center was the reason that the schools were laying off teachers".  Is interesting because I often wrote in lengthly article that the hundred's of thousands of dollars that the school would receive from the Alcore Retirement Home would not solve the school's funding issues.  I continually talk about how the I-70 TIF was a good TIF when it was created even though it took school money but the Alcore TIF was not and should have been a non-school TIF.  Knowing when and where and which TIF to use is important information.  I know from the many conversations that many people do not realize that I stress this and have stressed this for years and years.  It is a Jeff Gore failure and to the city's deteriment that he keeps perpetuating misunderstanding that he wrote in this last statement.  
Here is a quote from a 2014 article:  Hey, it is important to remember the TIF can be a useful tool for the city.  For instance at the same time the City created Alcore and Family Dollar TIF's which are terrible examples of how to use TIF, they also created the Trimble TIF which appears to be the right and proper use of a TIF (I'd like to compute how right at later time but on first examination it looks like the  proper use). 

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For those that are a member of the Facebook Group Anything and Everythin Huber Heights, this conversation continued in this thread.  Interestingly in this conversation he tell readers that in the conversation above he conceeded my point.  That is an interesting read and I recommend it.  

The first 145 visitors to this page didn't see this note because I did not think it would be necessary.  But I've had a few people watch this video and actually come away believing that schools can't borrow money.  Of course they can borrow money, we have school bond levies all the time.  Schools just can't borrow money until they identified the way they intend to pay off that loan.  Schools are not forced to have the money in the bank before they can build a school.  I am pretty sure most residents know this but then again I used to be so sure of it, I posted this video without these sentences and left it that way for weeks.  To be blunt, this video shows the Mayor does not understand basic government finance.  He certainly has a nice mannerism in his explanation on what he thinks he knows but it does not change the fact that schools can borrow money.  

If you haven't read the first article, you can find it here.