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

SamAdams

Okay, Wiredmama, I'll bite:

How do you know taxes aren't going to go up (or at least the request made to do so? From all appearances, Ard would LIKE to see them raised. Just look at the questions!

In my mind, the worst part of all this is the same problem we have with property taxes: The massive rental population (not to mention the vast welfare machine recipients) votes just like the rest of us, only they don't GIVE a dam* about taxes because they don't pay any. Every tax increase is decided in part by those people who are perfectly happy to spend other people's money, and would be even happier to have more of it.

And it's all overseen by a government (true at ALL levels) that's too big, too expensive, and far, FAR too powerful.

wiredmama222

Whether a property is rental or not it still has property taxes on it. Those taxes are collected based on the value of the property and paid by the person who OWNS the property, not by the renter. The person who owns the property is still responsible for the property and the taxes and passes those taxes to the renter through the cost of the rent each month when they figure in the rent each month. It is part of the monthly rent. So I don't see how ANYONE could fear whether a piece of property is rented or owned. The property still has a property tax on it.

As for how I know that the tax isn't going up. Did Ms Ard SAY it was definitely going up? Did she say so? Look at the paper and at the statements in the newspaper. I call your attention to what the paper says: OPINION: It does NOT QUOTE her as saying that the taxes were going up. It says clearly that it was Matt Westerholds opinion that they would go up based on what the questioneer said. No where in the answer does it say that she definitely said that. Not one time.

Also, the explanations you have been given by others such as TA Schwanger, etc., are based on what happened back in 2009 if you read what he said. Never once does he say that she says they are going up. Let me remind you he is one of the people who wants to get an elected Mayor or elected city manager and they want to bring it back on the ballot again. There was a guest editorial to that effect to two weeks ago. These tactics are nothing more than to scare us all into believing that Ms Ard is going to raise are taxes. When SHE tells me taxes are going up, then I will believe it. Until then, I won't. I do not take the word of another for anything like this. If I am not mistaken, does the city commissioners not have to VOTE on this before they can raise our city taxes? They cannot just RAISE them by saying so. I, for one, intend to find out. Wouldn't you want to know? Or do you intend to just take the word of the SR for that and believe and OPINION?

T. A. Schwanger

I can neither deny nor confirm a change in government or the way the City Manager is seated will be placed on the ballot in the near or distant future.

I can not for the life of me understand how you have come to that conclusion based on my opinion regarding an increase in the income tax unless you have been experimenting with a Weegie Board, Tarot Cards or Crystal Ball.

A word of advice: Please Please research---the income tax can not be increased without the vote of registered voters. However, based on past experience with Sandusky Community Surveys similar to the one currently circulating, an income tax increase ballot issue is eminent.

Can we get your opinion on the need or reason for an income tax increase?

wiredmama222

First of all, I find it insulting that you would say my conclusion for a change in government came from a "weegie board, Tarot cards or a crystal ball". Give me some credit for using my mind based on what I have seen in the Sandusky Registers stories, heard from people we mutually know and from what I have seen and heard elsewhere. Surely you can be more honest than "I cannot confirm". LOL That is such a typically political answer....

As for my answer....it will be direct. I do not agree with raising taxes nor do I feel the need to do so at this time. I feel a budgetary revamp and cutbacks should be the first order of business. The commissioners should have done so FIRST before doing anything else. The problems with the way this commission is set up is that no one is minding the store.

If the commisson was set up more efficiently, the budget wouldn't be such a mess in the first place.

Any good budget managment starts with cutbacks when there is a problem. No tax increase would be needed. If I were in charge that would be my first order of business. I wouldn't be increasing a tax until such time as I exhausted each and every cutback I could impliment starting with my OWN salary cut. There would be NO raises for anyone and that includes city workers. Anyone "double dipping" (those receiving retirement funds and salaries) would have to go. I would replace them with lower paid workers.

But my LAST order of business would be a tax increase. You cannot always go back to the past and expect to look at the "hand writing on the wall". Sometimes you have to move forward and do something you have not done before....like make progress!!!

You and your friends are looking at 2009. This is 2013. Try re examining the BUDGET. Try moving toward changing things within the budget FIRST. You know as well as I do that there are grants and assistance programs to be had out there that can help LONG before you resort to raising taxes.

You also know that renting or rental properties in NOT the problem in this city.....its lack of buisiness and wasted land. YES....wasted land. Wasted land is that which brings in NO tax dollars such as PARKS. This city needs land that brings in valued tax dollars and land that pays us back....industry. JOBS.

So NO, I do not want to see taxes raised, but they do not need to be. Not if the people on that council sit down and redo the budget, cut some corners and THINK about the spending they are doing. This is not a fancy community. Make some cuts. Stsrt with the big salaries. I would ask the big salary people to make a sacrifice. They should understand. If not, then they should go....contract or not. So should the double dippers.

T. A. Schwanger

My reference to proposed income tax increases in 1990 and 2009 was intended to show how the City held tax paying residents hostage in each instance threatening cuts in police, fire and street crews, closure of the golf course and greenhouse if the income tax issue failed while at the same time moving forward with the relocation of City offices--not an inexpensive proposition.

George Santayana, who, in his Reason in Common Sense, The Life of Reason, Vol.1, wrote "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

By the way. Whether or not you want to admit it, there are enough votes on the City Commission to move forward with relocating City offices.

wiredmama222

Please, Tim, do not use the tired old quotes of an old phrase to try and tell me what I already know. I told you EXACTLY what I would do and why. Now if you cannot accept that, then I don't know what to tell you.

You and your "friends" are hell-bent and seeing that the taxes are the only thing that matter and that they will raise. Is that not the case? You cannot accept any other managed plan? You and yours WANT the taxes to go up. You see that as the final straw in your plans to make a case, do you not???? That would be the final nail in the coffin so to speak?

Why play these games with the lives of the citizens of Sandusky? Why do this?

The moving of City Hall at the point in time is NOT a good idea. Whether or not there are sufficient votes to do so is irrelevant. You don't want that to happen, then speak up at a meeting. Why tell me? I am not yet on the city commission where I can do anything about it. If I were, my vote would be no. The city cannot yet afford such a luxury. Not in these economic times. Sorry. My vote would be no.

By the way....I am running in November for a seat.

AJ Oliver

All you folks are missing the big picture. State support for local government is being drastically cut. (See info below on Erie county from Policy Matters - 2011 to 2013 fiscal year differences) This is being done by a state government that is deliberately destroying local governments' abilities to function - everything from schools to libraries to police & fire to recreation and forrestry are all on the chopping block.
The problem is that we as a society are no longer willing to require the One Percent to pay its share. So yeah, I'll all in favor of a steeply progressive income tax increase.

•Schools…………………………. -$11.0 million
•County…………………………… -$4.3 million(including county undivided fund)
•Erie County Parks…………….. -$97.0 thousand
•Public library…………………… -$179.0 thousand
•Margaretta Township……….. -$125.0 thousand
•Perkins Township……………. -$430.0 thousand
•Huron City …………………….. -$101.0 thousand
•Sandusky……………………….. -$431.0 thousand
•Vermillion……………………… -$155.0 thousand

Fromthe419

I now this is off topic a bit, but today's Norwalk Reflector's lead story was Edison Local Schools putting another levy on the ballot in May. It seems the counties, schools, cities and every other agency is going to the voters with their hands out. I'm sorry but enough is enough, I had to take a pay decrease in 2008 and haven't seen a raise in 4 years. I can't afford more taxes, everyone is going to have to do more with less, that's what I've had to do in my household. Our government says inflation is low, tell that to my wallet. Time to pull in the belt and learn to live on what ya got, you ain't getting anymore from me...or I'll be on the system with my hand out.

wiredmama222

AMEN everyone should be doing that. Live within your means.

whocares

Each year Sandusky's population decreases. Maybe they should annex Perkins to build up its tax base again?

richrs

That will NEVER happen!

wiredmama222

Never say never. Perkins is suffering financially just as badly as Sandusky is. Stranger things have happened, where two almost broke communities combined forces to solve their finacial problems and came out stronger in the end.

Look at what that would solve here: police and fire, educational, tax base for services of streets, lights, maintenance, buildings.

You would be totally surprised at the number of things that the cities could do for one another.

richrs

You are right about one thing I would be surprised what Sandusky could do for Perkins other than drain it.

wiredmama222

from what I have been reading, Perkins is about drained now. Your community is having major funds problems like we are ever since the tax devaluation on some of your properties over there. Read the paper of the problems Perkins is having with their funds. So I would not think Sandusky would be draining much of anything.

richrs

So we tighten our belt. I had the chance to invest in property in downtown. I thought it over and realized that contrary to what is said by the talking heads the downtown is gasping its last breath. Which IMHO is a shame. I blame mis-management at the commission level, the city manager, and even dept heads. There is much potential, and if I see a change at 222 I may still consider. In the meantime I'll invest out here in Perkins. Yes we lot some property tax dollars. But what community hasn't. We build a new Twp hall and it's paid for. Overall I think we are doing fairly well. Better than a lot I would guess.
I would really like to know what the city manager has done since she was hired. I see it as firing a few LEOs, hiding in her office and not doing anything that would move the city forward. As far as the city commission goes, most of them are worthless. It would be a good time for the city residents to consider a strong mayor form of government.
BTW can you name the business that have either closed or left the downtown in the last 6 months?
Annexation of Perkins has been talked about since the 50's and never went anyplace then, and won't now.

wiredmama222

Look, you are not doing as well as you seem to think. You have financial problems in Perkins too, And you just told me to put up or shut up. I am saying the same to you. First you want to invest, then you don't. Either invest or get out. You cannot have it both ways. You blame the government for not investing? How lame is that. You cannot blame them. Either and investment is worth it or it isn't. It hasn't a darn thing to do with the government and you full well know it. So put up or shut up to you too. Now invest in Sandusky like you were going to or be quiet and say nothing about Sandusky again. You just lost any reason for saying ONE WORD about it.

whocares

Yea, Perkins is probably about broke to

Darkhorse

I have a better idea and that is for the city to put pressure on the County to collect what is owed to us in the way of property taxes. Six million dollars outstanding in Sandusky alone and 11 million for all of Erie County. Stop coming to us for more money and collect what is owed to us. Stop allowing these property owners to make payments so they delay foreclosure and run up the tax bill even more.

wiredmama222

I nominate YOU to go collect it

Truth or Dare

Well, I don't know about anyone else here but those few City Residents and Employees don't speak for me, as I'm more than willing to look back over the last decade easy and all the BS that's gone on within City Govt., including the last year, costing City Taxpayers MILLIONS! Big mistake, huge, in thinking folks aren't paying attention, seeing a pattern.

When it comes time to voting for City Commissioners, I'll be adopting the Geo. Carlin mentality regarding voting. Why cast a vote for more of the same ole dysfunctional, "status quo" form of government, new or sitting Commissioners! I will however compromise and be sure to vote for Issues, which should an Income Tax Levy find it's way on the ballot yet again, and under the guise of supporting Safety Srvcs., my vote will be a resounding NO! Why? Anyone working within the city must pay an Income Tax, right? Same goes for anyone working within the city yet living outside of the City. However, they don't get to vote as to whether or not more of their pay will be taken. Nothing more than Taxation w/o Representation. Now, raise the Admissions Tax, I'll support that wholeheartedly!

pavedparadise

Very well said and agreed to by many

wiredmama222

I believe you were on council. I am running. Are you?

wiredmama222

Truth or Dare....If I decided to run for the Sanduky City Commission, could I count on your vote. I am standing for no more of the same either. I do NOT intend to let any more of this go on either. I live IN Sandusky. I promise to watch this budget like a hawk. I will get involved in the day to day goings on of the City, I am going to watch the City Manager daily. I intend to watch the streets and the police/fire. Thats my platform. Can I count on you?

wiredmama222

IN MY OPINON: I knew the minute I said I am running this place was sure to get quiet. I was sure it would. Either from surprise or shock or that big "oh, now" I was hearing in the background. LOL.

I cannot stand the thought of more taxes on people who cannot afford to pay them. The waste of money paying for studies we don't need, when the council should be doing their OWN decision making and looking into things.

I can't see taking forever on making decision that should take a few weeks, not months. Wasting money on stupid things that mean nothing. This all has to stop now. If we had a viable council this wouldn't be going on.

If we had assigned council members to specific details within this city something would get done. That is what we need. And everyone doing a job would move this city forward. I

Instead we have people OUTSIDE this council trying to run the show. That has to stop. We have benign council people letting them RUN the show. That has to stop.

We need people looking for industy to come into this town. That we NEED.

We have some council people doing nothing to earn their pay. That has to stop.

When all these things stop we might have a chance to move this city forward.

Get rid of the "double dippers", the lazy workers and the impotent people in this city. Keep people informed and make this a City to be proud of again. No more wasted land but land that pays us back. That's what we need around here.

We can all do this together if we try. We need it for our kids, for our grandkids and for generations to come. People who came before us did it. Now its our turn.

pavedparadise

I move to take up a collection for you not to run. Ya think there is turmoil on the Commission now.

Would your first order of business be putting condos etc. in that wasted, non-taxpaying property known as Washington Park?

wiredmama222

My, my. Paved... Sounds like a worried sour graper to me. No, I don't think this town needs more CONDOS any more than I think this place needs more PARKS. What this town needs is more INDUSTRY and places for people to work. It has for some time now. The people who insist that we need more parks seem to think that all the people in Sandusky want to do is sit around and ponder that sunset and FISH off some dock! What about the people who need to feed their family? What about the kids just starting out who want to buy homes and start their lives? They don't want to sit and watch the sunsets and do nothing. They need jobs. That is the problem. We have beautiful parks already. But we need businesses, not more parks and recreation. We need some capital coming into this town. Real capital.

The commission needs to learn to live within its budget as well.

We also need organization within the comission. Right now its a free for all. Everyone does pretty much what they want. That is why nothing gets done. You know that. If everyone took a specific part of this town and worked on it taking part of the budget to be responsible for that part on which they work, (its called organization), this town would run like a top. So go ahead and collect your money to see that I don't run. When you get $100,000.00 You call me. Then I won't run. Until then, too bad, so sad. Because I can do as well, if not better than most of the people who have been on there or who are on there now. I KNOW you have been on there and are going to run again. I hope we have the chance to work together. I want Cole's spot. You take Hamilton's or whoever you want.

Be honest. How much time did you really spend WORKING on things when you were on council??? Really working on things?????

Or give me the 'collection" price. Until then. Tough luck. I am in it for the people of this City.

DGMutley

City Commission

There will be 3 commission vacancies this year--Commissioners Brown, Cole, and Hamilton.
The term limit is eight years of a twelve year period ending the end of the term to which the person is seeking election.

The next chance to run for the Commission is 2015 when there will be 4 vacancies.

wiredmama222

YEP...that's right.

AJ Oliver

Mama, if you don't have the guts to use your own name when you criticize someone, don't expect to be taken seriously.
I'd consider voting for you for city commission except that you know nothing about the city's finances. The funds that they have available for vital services have been CUT (a lot) because of actions by the state. Citizens are NOT being asked to give more, on the contrary, taxes have gone DOWN - especially on the rich. Do some homework before you spout off. Spouting is just so easy when you are anonymous, isn't it? But unfortunately, anonymity is what keeps these blogs mostly at the junior high level discourse.

wiredmama222

Oliver....The name is Kate. I have signed it many times. The last name is Jones. If you would like to know my credentials, I can give them to you.

The last council I sat on, we had exactly $210,000 to use to run our little city and we managed beautifully. I worked on that council. I managed to get a grant and pave an entire roadway with it...the longest one in town. We did the city park, and many other vital things that we needed, including setting up the police department. As far as knowing the finances of a city, I can tell you that I know a great deal about it.

I can get you a signed affidavit from the current town treasurer of that town telling you about my help is deciphering the MESS we had when she took over. The past treasurer left her a royal mess and I helped her reconstruct the entire bookkeeping system for the city. (we got everything in five black garbabe bags). Four years worth of books.

So you can criticize all you want. I know that this city spends more money on stupid things than it ever should. I know where the money comes from to RUN the city, how it is divided up. How it is to be spent and how it is SUPPOSED to be balanced out. Do YOU? I am fully aware of State and Federal cuts to Cities and Municipalities.

I am also aware of grants and fundings that are available to assist some municipalities if they take the time to go after them. I have written grant proposals. Have you?

Do you know at what point in time each year the license plate taxes come in from the county? Where the levy money goes. What the general fund means? What can and cannot be spent on specific items each quarter? I do. Just to give you and example of my knowledge of town finances.

So I wouldn't be too quick to judge what a person knows and does not know when it comes to something.

I have a degree from Bowling Green State University. I taught for the last 10 years of my career. I had a nursing license for 39 years. I have been happily married for the second time for almost 17 years, 25 the first time. We lived in Arizona for 5 years. I was born and raised in Sandusky and graduated from Sandusky High School. I am 62 years old.

Any other questions? Comments? I would be most happy to tell you anything you wish to know....well, almost. LOL

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