Opinion: Ard wants residents to pay more

Matt Westerhold
Jan 30, 2013

If Sandusky city manager Nicole Ard's Q&A for residents during her quiet community input meetings over the last week is any indication, there's a tax levy heading your way if you're a city resident. 

Question: Would you be willing to support a taxing initiative, such as a public safety initiative to provide adequate police/fire services? 

Huh?

I can't recall city commissioners discussing a potential tax hike in any public meeting in 2012, or so far this year. Perhaps I'm not understanding the question, which is part of a series of strangely worded questions. But what else might a "taxing initiative" be, if not a tax increase?  There's no doubt, in my opinion, that Sandusky city commissioners Julie Farrar and possibly Jeff Smith will support a tax hike, but I doubt there would be much other support on commission for one. 

It might be better to determine whether city residents already provide "adequate" funding for "adequate" police and fire services. It might be better to hire a police chief and ask him or her (yeah, right) what changes could be made to reduce costs and improve services. It might be better to determine whether three-day work weeks for police officers is an "adequate" and productive use of city resources, or whether it's a surrender to union demands. It might be better to determine whether a part-time roster of firefighters could reduce costs similar to the $775,000 reduction the city of Huron accomplished with the addition of a part-time staff. 

Finally, it might be better to elect a mayor rather than hire a city manager who thinks a tax increase is the way to balance the city's budget. 

Click here to see all the questions Ard listed out for all the residents (two or three, maybe) and city staffers (more than two or three)  who attended the meetings, and decide for yourself: Were these questions designed to get honest input from residents, or were they really crafted simply to avoid the real work that needs to be done?   

Comments

T. A. Schwanger

If I recall correctly, when Farrar and Smith ran for City Commission, both answer a resounding NO to a direct question whether they would support an income tax increase. Of course this was before the idea of relocating City Hall once again rasied its ugly head and is at the top of the to do list.

An income tax increase for safety sevices, which failed miserably in the past, is what is termed "creative financing" in the world of Municipal Finances.

Here's how it works:: A 1/4 percent income tax increase for safety services, etc. will generate approx. $1.5 million dollars per year which in turn would free up $1.5 million dollars in existing incoming City funds to finance the relocation of City Hall.

Funny how failed proposals to increase the income tax mirrored dated attempts to relocate City Hall in 2009 and 1990.

wiredmama222

I should have seen this coming and didn't. You and yours are at it again, huh? Trying to frighten the people of this community into believing that people that certain people on the city commission WILL raise the taxes? When are you going to announce that you plan on putting the elected Mayor or Elected City Manager program back on the ballot?

I had heard that was a possiblity why not just be up front about it instead of doing what other communities are doing and try to frighten people into believing what just isn't so?????

Did Ms. Ard actually SAY that there would be a tax increase????? Was that statement made for SURE???????? Was it a completed statement for absolute certainty????? Or is this entire thing just a "suppose we have to IF????

T. A. Schwanger

@ Wired::::::Talk about reading something that's not there.

If you have not read the PDF attached to Mr. Westerhold's blog, I suggest you do so. All indications are an income tax increase proposal is in the near future. In fact, there are four bullets within the PDF where the survey asks if you as a resident would be willing to pay higher fees and taxes for City services.

Do you believe in 'deja vu'? The year was 2009 when then City Manager Kline threatened to close fire stations, close the golf course and greenhouse, and lay off fire and police personnel, and street crews unless residents approve an income tax increase which failed miserably.

History is about to repeat. Question is, who is pulling the City Manager's strings?

wiredmama222

REALLY? And are you and yours not saying things that are not yet evident? It seems to me that no matter WHAT Ms Ard says or does, you and yours are going to find fault, make it worse than it seems and find ways in which to be sure to make "history repeat itself" only to be sure to have your "elected Mayor or City Manager" get passed this time.

I would much rather you all come right out and say this is what you are planning than to go about it any other way. Why not be honest, straight forward and above board about it, than to play these games to discredit Ms. Ard this way to be sure she is summarily dismissed at the right time.

Come, now, Mr. Schwanger! Not all of us out here in Sandusky are that slow that we do not see the handwriting on the wall of what is going on here. Some of us a little more "up" on what we see is happening, listen with ears a litte more in tune with the music and see with eyes more clearly.

You are referring to things happening all the way back to 2009? Why go that far back. Referencing need not go back that far when some of your friends and co horts on the commission have made no secret that they are unhappy with Ms Ard's performance in 2011. Even the SR has made no secret in the paper with that. So lets not insult the intelligence of ALL the citizens of the city with anything other than the pre amble of what this is all for. An attempt and lead up to get the citizens ready to see another vote for an elected Mayor or City Manager coming up. Would you deny that is not the case?

And to answer your question...no, I don't believe in deja vu when there are other, more obvious causes for such things as what we are being fed at the moment.

Even if Mr. Westerhold is doing the feeding, I still watch what I eat.

Bada Bing

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

Bluto

I guess those poor slumlords will have to pay then .

Perkins2060

Why is it the SR deletes posts that contain truthful facts about the percentage of housing that are rentals and metro in the City of Sandusky? You want the truth? THE SANDUSKY REGISTER CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!

Bluto

Not everyone who rents is a leech . Poor landlords are as just to blame as bad tenants . I have seen property owners let their property go when they are not occupied to the point that the grass is six foot tall , and never make repairs to attempt to make the place more attractive .

Bada Bing

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

Bluto

All I'm saying is that if landlords checked references our neighborhoods might be better . Landlords sucking at the metro teat makes the problem worse . The rental by me is owned by an out of towner who only shows up twice a year to cut the grass or to show the place to another tenant . They don't even clean the yard before showing it . The fix should start with root cause.

Perkins2060

But yet the SR leaves the posts up that bash the property owners. Liberal rag at its finest.

Speakezy

Tim... that sounds just like the lottery/casino money at the state level! Its a trickle down screwing!

Darkhorse

Trickle down screwing is correct. No one can live within their budget. They always have to be asking for more money to do things and not how they can efficiently do things. It is all about the City Hall move and the downtown, nothing else matters and the rest of the town is let go to help themselves. Don't people understand that there are families who are struggling and everyone wants a tax levy from them. The entities have got to be out of their loving minds.

wiredmama222

No, this is about getting rid of who they want OFF the commission and getting the right people ON it before too long. Then getting the elected Mayor or elected City Manager.

twosenseworth

I attended and participated in the first community input meeting. In my opinion, the agenda was designed to imply that without establishing other funding resources to replace the missing estate taxes which are gone in 2013, along with other lost income revenue, the city will, at best only be able to perform at a sub-par level. City Manager Ard, who's starting salary began at $127,000 per year, fails to include other revenue factors as part of her program, such as the hundreds upon hundreds of city taxpayers who presently are not paying their fair share of property taxes based upon what they own within city limits. During the community meeting, a graph of city income revenue sources indicates that a much larger share of funding for the city comes from its income taxes, but it cannot be forgotten that property taxes also contribute money into the city coffers.

It is my belief that similar to the recent school tax increase, those citizens who manage to pay their fair share of property taxes are ultimately penalized for doing so, by being assessed for additional funding to offset what isn't being collected. As an example, in the case of local school system funding, property taxes account for the lion's share of money collected on behalf of the schools and again, when property taxes are not being collected from every shareholder, those who are paying are expected to simply pay more to offset the shortages. It's an unfair system at best.

The operation of the city is no different, as they too depend upon various taxation formulas in order to function. As expenses continue to increase, it becomes painfully necessary to either live within your budget or shift the focus on collecting additional funding through the income tax. Similar to the property tax method of taxation, those who pay income taxes will be expected to pay more to offset those who pay nothing. It is safe to presume that the first services to be penalized, without adding more funding to the tax base will be police and fire.

I urge every citizen of Sandusky to plan on attending one of the remaining community input meetings, so you will be adequately prepared for what lies ahead.

Bess

TWOCENTS-
“Adequately prepared for what’s coming” what’s that? Do you know that taxes are going up? Are we really paying Ms Ard $60 an hour to develop a questioner or, hire a police chief? The entire questioner in power point may be telling but still a waste of City finances. At $60 an hour I believe Ms Ard should find efficiencies, and eliminate fraud, waste and abuse. Perhaps this is more difficult than just looking for additional funds to operate but we pay her handsomely to do the hard work demanded.
Where were the commissioners when this questioner was published? If they are supposed to oversee the actions of the City Manager then it is there job to ask the questions posed above.
I have been to City Hall. I understand and empathize with staff and management that would like to work in prettier office space. Then again, they are working. Let the City staff help Ms Ard save money and be grateful for their employment.
Westerhold opines “Finally, it might be better to elect a mayor rather than hire a city manager who thinks a tax increase is the way to balance the city's budget.” We had an opportunity to change City government structure, was it two years ago? Sadly it was defeated. There are new City residents talking about a change. Regrettably I did not go to their meeting and today I find I lost the invitation.

twosenseworth

@Bess~
City ordinance 11-116 dated December 2, 2011. Section 3(A): Compensation. My crystal ball has gone hazy this morning, as I cannot confirm to you that taxes are going up. However, it's relatively safe to presume that unless additional funding becomes a reality, city services will be forced into change that no one wants.

wiredmama222

Well, I knew you would be back as soon as the time was right. See, it all makes sense now. Her comes the people they need to make this complete. Here comes the people to scare us and make sure the Schwanger group is up and running for the move to have the May or November group ready to get that initivitve on the ballot. Oh, yes, the ELECT the Mayor or City Manager group is back on line.

twosenseworth

@wiredmama222
Thank you for the sincere welcome. I, like you, am entitled to express my opinion on this subject or any subject for that matter, and that's what I did. If you read the second sentence of my commentary, you would notice that I used the expression "in my opinion." That means that in my opinion, I see things a certain way while you on the other hand, may not agree with me. That's fine, because we live in a democratic society where there's a good chance that not everyone will agree on a given subject. Likewise, it's your given privilege to disagree with me. I'm good with that.

wiredmama222

@twosenseworth....I was speaking to Bess, dear, not you. Sorry if you took my sentences to mean YOU. I have no quarrel with what you say. None whatsoever. In fact, I don't recall ever having read anything you have written beofore this. So please take no offense in what I had written because it wasn't meant for YOU at all. I will gladly read your pieces anytime, anywhere with much enthusiasm and take them for what they are worth. I am sure they are worth reading. As you say, they are YOUR opinions as mine are mine. Bess, on the other hand and I have a HISTORY.

Bess

Really Wired what is your problem? Neither Tim nor I have written anything on this blog “to scare” anyone. If you were scared it must be because there is something about you that is threatened by any change in City government.
I believe it is reasonable to project that very few residents of this City read any of the SR blogs. I only look at them when there is some interesting (to me) topic. Seldom do I find the time or have the inclination to talk to myself by posting. Today’s editorial by Westerhold I found of interest. I also find that Ms Ard can better spend her time than producing such a Questionnaire.
As for the piece by Westerhold, I was drawn to it because it was informative. I read through the Questionnaire and came to the same conclusion he did. Half the questions are directed at “paying more” for “better service”. How is that to be interpreted? Ard is asking if her participants are willing to pay higher taxes.
Ahhh yes Wired... the elected city manager that your ferociously blogged against may be back, or an elected mayor. Whether it will be done by November is not certain but I hope it is changed and the sooner the better. P.S. I do remember that some time after the Elected City Manager petition failed you blogged that we “the supporters” were right. I couldn’t forget that.

wiredmama222

Ah, yes, Bess. I am sorry, but I cannot accept that you have found NOTHING interesting until now to "blog" about. I sincerely find that hard to swallow. Knowing the other items from previously dealing with you and your "friends" and having heard such wonderful things of late about the anticipatory challenges that seem to be forthcoming in perhaps May or November, your friends and collegues have planned such another go round with the same item again. I wondered how long before you would be back on here. And here you are. So forgive me my skepticism.

Funny that it coincides so neatly with what I have been hearing: the planning of another round of getting that elected city manager or city mayor on the ballot again. You people ARE persistent or tenacious shall I say. I will give you that. I guess your thoughts are 40% gives you a thrill. But at any rate, misconceptions of the possibility of raising taxes (yes, misconceptions) is pure nonsense. Stating so is PURE CONJECTURE. It isn't a statement of FACT at all and you and TA Schwanger and Mr. Westerhold know it. Its and OPINION. Nothing more. You are doing it to insight fear and upset. Nothing more, nothing less.

Ms Ard has been under the gun since the first week she got here. She hasn't had a friend one. Between the paper. Two specific people on the commission and a couple of people in this community who have tried everything to cause her grief, she has had to put up with a great deal. If the woman doesn't give direct answers to questions I do not blame her.

Why should she talk directly to the SR....to ANYONE at the SR. Her comments are twisted, her statements misconstrued and her general demenour questioned at every turn. She has been backstabbed by those she works with and treated like a red headed step child by others instead of with any sort of respect, while some demand respect for reporters. That is just a laugh when those same people show no respect for her.

This entire town should really look in the mirror, including you and your group. You are right back at it. You just cannot stand losing. You still want YOUR GIRL in there. Well, I will state this again. There is another, even if you win with this "elect" thing. It will not be a shoe in. Not for her. Just so you know. Believe it. But you may have a problem. And he HAS credentials that your girl does not.

What I cannot stand is the sneakiness of all this. The underhandness. You can all say you are not doing anything that you are simply "saying' that you are pointing out that history may be repeating itself and taxes are going up.....etc. But what will you all say when you get ready to put this on the ballot again? What lie will you tell then? What excuse will you all use then? Why not tell the truth now?

No, you have to do it this way. You have to create some fear first, get Ard fired, create an atmosphere to keep some council people and THEN get your program on the ballot.

Some of us are already wise to it all. What a shame the truth doesn't stand up first.

Bess

Yes wired we do have a history but only over the elected city manager initiative. I wanted it passed and you did not. I do not know what is being planned or discussed because, as stated in earlier piece, I did not attend the meeting I was invited to and I cannot find the invitation. As for any “misconceptions” it seems to be you that espouse them, for we are quite aware that Ms Ard, as a City employee cannot raise taxes on her own. She did however ask about that in the Questionnaire that was published – facts are facts. It seems you fear the threat of altering the City’s form of government but I doubt anyone else does. Here is conjecture: I believe that better than 65 percent of the City’s population does not know, nor do they care, how City government operates. They care about police and fire protection, clean and maintained streets, and clean water.
As for “Ard has been under the gun since the first week she got here.” She knew as she arrived there was the pending petition to change the form of City government that would have left her without a position (lots of money but no position). If she has issues with City employees then as “the boss” she is responsible for addressing that. As for her relationships with others, respect is earned. I doubt she is friendless here though because she seemed rather personable when I ran into her recently. It is not difficult to understand that you can like someone on a personal basis but disagree or oppose their positions, here the questions asked related to “willing to spend more”.
As for “YOUR GIRL” I heard she is no longer interested in any City position.
It is odd that you believe we cannot “stand losing”. It seems to me we moved on after the Elected City Manager ballot was lost. When I wrote of the invitation it was not from Tim but from citizens I do not know. I support a change in the way the City operates and I suppose those that sent me the invitation because they knew this. I have never held another position on the change in City government and have been quite open about that so “sneaky” really? If a new petition is circulated I will certainly help with signatures. If any ballot initiative passes to change the City form to Elected City Manager or Mayor it will not be to get Ms Ard fired. Surely if she wishes to stay in Sandusky employ she might in some capacity. Advice to you – get a grip accept that just as you have opinions, others do as well.

wiredmama222

If one reads...and I do, you and your committee have already exposed what you intend to do. There was a "your 2 cent" letter in the paper discussing the matter of the elected position again and that they had a 40% the last time. I am sure that you and yours are ready, willing and able to put either Tim or perhaps Sharon into a position of leadership if not the last lady you had in mind. But I will lay even money that the item comes up in November for a vote. Since Tim can neither "comfirm or deny", which is the oldest political trick in the book, the matter, that makes me even more convinced that this is what is going on.

I don't fear the "elected" position but only who will fill it. Again, I will state that your people will NOT run alone. I can promise that one. The person I know will run against your "in mind person' will a great deal of credentials behind him and a lot of "class" besides. He is not one to play games either. He won't fold easily and he is a pretty strong leader...lots of experience in that field. Also very knowledgable and capable of handling situations. So whoever you are thinking of, they will have a fight on their hands.

I am sure the people of Sandusky, as I do, want a safe and clean environment in which to raise a family. But I will tell you this. The way certain people around here have tried to get rid of Ms Ard is going to come out....oh, I know a great deal about this. And it will not come out in the SR....it will go elsewhere for exposure. I can also guarantee that one. People will not like it. Those involved will not be happy nor will the people of Sandusky. Its a rotten thing to do to someone. I do feel sorry for her. Really sorry.

And I need not get a grip. My grip has been in place for some time now. I just wonder how much of a grip you and yours will have now that you know some of us know what has been going on. There are about 20 of us who know. That should leave the ones who are doing this a little shaken. You can take that back and report it. Yes, we all have opinions....just as you do, so do we.

Bess

Really? I didn't know the SR published blog comments in the SR editorial pages. If there is a person the leaders of the movement have in mind –if the City government is changed - I am not aware of it. You see Wired, the failings of the Commission form of government have a long and flawed history. As I said many times in the past “there is no accountability.” With an elected Mayor or City Manager we, the citizens, would have a person that would have to answer for any transgressions. That is my position. This is not about Ms Ard. I only repeat this because you seem to, over and over again, defend her. I really don’t see the point of it.
You mentioned you had someone who would run in November, a “classy” person if memory serves me, with credentials of some variety. If he/she wants to be the one accountable and wins any future election – given there is one – I’m ok with that.

wiredmama222

Do you NOT read the paper? Under "your 2 cents"? My goodness, you should start reading it. Very informative. It was in there. All about the last time the elected office for City manager...blah, blah, blah. Ask Mr. Westerhold. Call and ask him. He will tell you it WAS in there. A letter to them about it.

Oh, I hope you will honor that one statement. I will hold you to it for sure. You can always look up and see what I wrote, Bess.

It's easy to see what the person just wrote who you are answering. The comments are right above where you are writing. Just look UP. Yes, the person has class. And credentials. You make it sound like something bad. Does that bother you? In short the class means they don't fight like a "gutter rat" and they don't act like a back door thug. This person isn't a back bitter either. This person would have NO problem with accountability and would make darn sure the commissioners be accountable as well.

This person certainly wouldn't take a bunch of "crap" from anyone either. Which means what they say, they mean. Taking a bunch of nonsense from a bunch of people or putting up with a bunch of nonsense from people who only THINK they know what to do ,isn't a high priority on their agenda of making Sandusky a better place to live.

They care more about Sandusky growing and moving forward than you could possibly imagine.

I am sure there is going to be a future "election" and that Mr Schwanger and company are just treading water until they can roll it out again. If you want to prove me wrong, I am more than willing to admit it. I don't happen to think I am.

I will bet it comes in November or by the latest, next May. I am betting November election you will see it on the ballot if not before. And I am betting that Schwanger is the one who wants the job. Since you say "your girl" doesn't want it any more. (which I still am not convinced is true..but who knows). If not Schwanger....I bet its Sharon or even you or perhaps Poole. But it will have to be one of you. Just waiting to see.

I could get rich betting on this one. I am not, and I repeat....NOT worried about the changes in government as I am in who it is doing the governing. That is what worries me more than anything else. I like my government to be OPEN, ABOVE BOARD and HONEST in what it does. Not the back door kind that isn't interested in the honesty factor. That is what scares me to death.

my oh my

I would support an increase if the quality of all city services would improve and the city would take a proactive stance on issues rather than being proactive...

SamAdams

I will not support yet another tax increase for any reason, under any circumstances. With all of the city dollars going out the door to conduct still more studies, pay legal fees or legal judgments, and a City Manager some $60 an hour to write junior high questionnaires, there are plenty of places the budget can be tweaked. Further impoverishing city residents isn't that place.

I'm in complete agreement with twosenseworth. Those who already pay into the the city coffers are rewarded with nothing but more government thievery. Those who don't pay aren't penalized (or it takes forever to get anything from them).

STOP IT. The more you ask for, the more likely it is that people who are already less than thrilled with the direction of the city will give up and move out. I'd frankly be on my way already if I could see a way to do so right now! Some things just aren't worth it, and I'm becoming more and more convinced that Sandusky is one of those things.

wiredmama222

This is all artificial nonsense. Reread this article carefully. Did Ard really say she was going to raise taxes or are they trying to make you believe that???? This is all written to make you believe that she did. This is another attempt at pushing the people in one way....get rid of Ard to move in another person.

wiredmama222

If this is allowed to even get passed being allowed to remain, I will be shocked as most things are removed. I hope it is allowed to remain as it is simply an OPINION>>>>>>>

I really thought that the purpose of ANY newspaper in the country was to produce an HONEST and above board news outlet, complete with unbiased and relative stories that gave the citizenry the daily news. That the people of any community could count on that newspaper to give a daily perspective of the news of the day. That it would fairly and completely give them an idea of what was happening in the world around them. To basically tell them about the issues that were happening around them so they knew what was going on

But that entails responsibility by the paper and its staff. It begins with the editorial staff and the reporters that go out into the community and report the news that is happening. It does NOT include sensationalizing it, adding additional comments, taking license to which you are not entitled, or making a mockery of the truth. It means that you fairly, honestly and ACCURATELY tell the citizens of what is going on in their community.
'
Even if you state you "opinion" you do so with some sort of restraint and not make it as if it were the headline of the day. You do not do so with the idea that it will frighten and hurt them. That went out with Orson Wells and the "War of the Worlds". I thought even the lowliest of jourlest knew that one. How shameful it is when jourlists use their power to "hint" that something may happen when it may or MAY NOT, knowing full well it will insight something very very upsetting to cause the end of means. When the editorial staff of any newspaper allows themselves to become so politically involved in the city in which they are supposed to be unbiased, it fails to remain unbiased, it is time for a PUBLISHER to take a good long look at what is going on.

Perhaps that is what is needed now.

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