Bring an idea

Matt Westerhold
Feb 10, 2014

The streets need plowed. The fire and police departments need manpower to function. The streets department needs money to fix roads and whatever funds are left over need to be invested for the future.

The mortgage payment is three days late and the car payment is due next week and all that's left in the fridge is three pieces of pizza from the other day.
 
The city, like may families and other businesses, isn't running on empty, certainly, but there's some serious wheezing happening in the gas tank.
 
The Sandusky city commission must vote on some difficult choices between now and next month, when it is required to approve a balanced budget. The state of Ohio has cut about roughly $1 million of the city's funding through the elimination of the estate tax and the elimination of the local share of other state tax money.
 
Those cuts in revenue must be addressed.
 
Lawmakers in Columbus are doing to cities what they've been doing to public education funding for the last two decades: They are slashing it and offering no real initiatives, guidance or options as to how local governments should address the difficulties that creates.
 
Sandusky is not alone; every city and municipality in the five-county region and across the state faces the same challenges: How to maintain services amid diminishing revenues.
 
Residents get it. They understand the hard choices that must be made. Many have been living with similar choices they've made for quite some time, whether it's grown children moving back in with their parents, keeping the old car or getting rid of it and sharing more rides, or eating two-day old pizza for dinner.
 
Most residents also understand Sandusky's city staff has been trimmed back substantially in the last decade. Many of those residents also work in environments where staffs have been cut and there are more job tasks now for every remaining employee than hours in a day to accomplish them.
 
More staff cuts will happen and the city is being smart to encourage and advance economic development and preserve funding for these efforts. Replacing the lost revenue taken away by the state has got to be a No. 1 priority, and economic development is the best way to make that happen.
 
There's just too much opportunity and too much potential — proved already — on the Northcoast to improve quality of life here to let it be beaten by the current fiscal challenges.
 
But when fire Chief Paul Ricci, police chief John Orzech, or city engineer Aaron Klein talk about manpower shortages, their concern is obvious. It can be seen clearly on their faces. They aren't complaining; they're just stating the facts as they see them.
 
It will be commissioners who make the hard choices to offset the cuts in state and federal funding. One guarantee they have is nobody's going to do a happy dance.
 
But commission has moved aggressively to engage a wide audience and foster a robust public dialogue since the November election. A series of public forums scheduled to begin this week will further broaden the conversation and give everyone with an opinion an opportunity to share it.
 
This commission also seems intent on building better relationships with other local governments. Regionalization has proved to be a way to improve services and decrease expenses. That can be seen in the Erie County emergency dispatch center at the sheriff's office.
 
It's no longer an option: Regionalization of services must occur if cities in Erie, Ottawa, Huron, Sandusky and Seneca counties are going to maintain the same level of services as in the past.
 
City commission is plowing ahead — everyone gets to have their say — at the public forums.
 
Go to a forum, or three
 
• 6 p.m. Feb. 13 at the Sandusky Library, 114 W. Adams St.

• 9 a.m. Feb. 15 at Mr. Smith’s Coffee House, 140 Columbus Ave.

• 6 p.m. Feb. 18 at Sandusky High School, Room 300, 2130 Hayes Ave.
 

Comments

Babo

Sandusky isn't alone in receiving cuts in state and federal funding, but it does have the unique ability to assess an 8% Admissions Tax on its world class amusement park to eliminate its money problems permanently without inflicting any hardships on local taxpayers.

Contango

Idea:

Every adult Sanduskian (about 20K, age 18 +) graciously purchases one $1.00 Megamillions lottery ticket.

Tickets are turned over to the city.

Any winnings are converted into additional revenue.

Who knows, someone could hit the big one?

I mean, other than by luck or magic how is any revenue shortfall to be made up?

BabyMomma

By firing some of the overpaid idiots that work for the city! Duh!

The Bizness

1. Raise admission tax by 1 or 2 percent.

2. Go after people delinquent on their property taxes.

3. Put just about every city owned property that isn't a park, or currently used, up for sale.

4. Actively go out and seek new business to move into the area. We have shipping, rail, and highway access.

5. Work with Sandusky Maint Street Association to draw more retail and musical attractions into Sandusky. Make Downtown a destination, not just a stopping point before heading to the islands.

donutshopguy

Biz,

Why should the Main Street Association put forth the effort when the city finances SPARC who takes people from the city to shop and eat outside of the city?

The Bizness

People that use sparc dont just work downtown, they need to get to their jobs in other areas.

DGMutley

Donut,

Saying that Main Street Association shouldn't support SPARC because it enables folks using SPARC to shop and dine in Perkins Twp is not a valid argument.

SPARC's economic impact supports the whole area not just Perkins or Downtown. Folks who live or work in Perkins dine and shop in Sandusky too.

OSUBuckeye59

It's been several weeks since the City Manager, Ms. Ard, was placed on a Corrective Action Plan. Has the Commission provided an update on her performance to date? I haven't seen any articles of her being visible and noticeable out in the community, as that was one of the improvements required of her. By now, there should be clear evidence of her performance trend in terms of satisfying the CAP.

AJ Oliver

Good on the Register for clarifying the situation - it's been caused by cuts from the state. The impact is very inequitable: progressive state income tax revenues are being replaced with regressive local taxes. And BTW, the state agencies (like ODNR, ODOT, Watercraft, etc.) are NOT being cut. And a big part of what's going on the the GOP's insistence that the ONE PERCENT should not be taxed.

Fireside

AJ, Can you tell me what the state budget balance was when Strickland left office and what it is now? Thanks. The "GOP vs. Dem" gets very old with me.

reader

Raise the admission tax. Problem solved.

OSUBuckeye59

I would offer that's a short term stop-gap measure. The city leaders need to look at additional, varied tax revenue opportunities, including trying to incentivize new business to relocate to the area.

Babo

It's not a stop gap measure as the Admissions Tax is a percentage tax and will rise as ticket prices rise at CP. Had the city moved years ago to raise the Admissions Tax to the same level as other communities with world class amusement parks it would not have a problem today.

Also if one wants to try to lure new businesses to the area, the City has to reinvent its style of government. It has to lose the notion that there are two standards: one for certain families, businesses and their friends and another for everyone else.

OSUBuckeye59

We really need the City Manager and Commissioners to create long-term Strategic Plans and short-term Operational Objectives that align to meet the long-term Objectives. Where's the leadership?

rjk1915

"The streets need plowing."

Darwin's choice

Have joe yost pay his bills!

Quit giving idiot police officers paid vacations for being moron/perverts!

slightthroat212

1). Start by taking those who are double dipping OFF the payroll and replace them with people at a lesser salary. That should eliminate some costs.

2)Get rid of Ard and hire someone at a lesser salary.
3) everyone shovel in front of their own driveway or house, the street in front of your house. If you can't shovel call a kid who needs a few bucks. NO EXCUSES. Read your bible and the wall story.
4). If we get much more snow, dump it down in the bay, we could use the water level raised anyway.
5) Don't start another project in this city until all the other projects that have been started are completed.
6.) Start thinking that Cedar Point cannot be the goose that laid the golden egg for around here FOEVER and start getting businesses in here PDQ
7). Pare down the workforce but not too far. its down about as far as it can go now, so make the best of what you have and get er done
8) Top salary people need to consider taking a pay cut for awhile or forgoing ANY new raises until the crises passes.

These are in no particular order just suggestions.

T. A. Schwanger

##

Data indicates the majority of funds generated by the City's license plate tax goes to salary. The original intent was for street resurfacing.

There are a number of city streets that have not seen new pavement in what looks like the horse and buggy days--McCartney Road, Pipe Street and Gartland Ave. to name three.

I have brought up the idea of going back to a program of tar and chip (1970s, 1980s) on some City streets until incoming revenue improves. Tar and chip can cost less than half the cost of pavement. To date, the idea has not received support.

BabyMomma

Can't we have criminals shovel snow, and pull weeds, and weed eat around downtown, Do some push mowing, paint curbs, wash windows, do janitorial work at the police station, clean the courthouse, trim shrubs, etc.