Saturday, November 3, 2007

When The Levy Breaks

We are facing votes Tuesday on levies for four different organizations, COSI, The Library, MetroParks, and TARTA. There have been postings on a number of sites (Thurber's Thoughts, Glass City Jungle, Wannabe Mayor, Hooda Thunkit's Therapy Blog, and Major Nitpickers) on each of these requests. I would simply like to make an attempt to summarize here.  

Each of these organizations has laid claim to their "rightful share" of the money that we work hard to earn every day. Each has a noble purpose, and each has an assumption that they deserve this money for the good of the community. None however, have been able to describe an effective business plan for operating in a city of declining population, jobs, and property values. 

COSI admits to a "failed" business plan from the start, which begs the question as to whether they are liars or just simply stupid. From this flawed beginning, having promised us that they would never again ask for money, and with the appearance of no real business plan to move forward; they come cap in hand like Oliver Twist, saying "Please sir, I want some more". My response, "Not today Ollie". You tell me that if you do not get this levy, you will be forced to go ... it was nice knowing you.  

Metroparks is looking for money to take care of the land that they purchased with a different levy. Now that they have the land they don't appear to have the funding to improve it, take care of it, nor to run many of the programs on it. You receive funding from a number of sources in the form of grants and gifts, but apparently that does not meet the needs of your budget. Perhaps money could be raised by selling some of the land or cutting back on some of the programs? But wait - property values are going down and selling real estate in Toledo is a losing proposition, so that won't work. And it appears to be impossible to consider doing 'less as more' for anything run on taxpayer dollars.Perhaps in a time when Toledo is shrinking in so many ways, you should realize that your budget does not need to grow. If you continue to add to our tax burden, there is likely to be plenty of green space (translate as empty land) in Toledo to choose from for future growth. 

The Library is looking for money to maintain their current programs at their current levels, none of which seems to involve books. Those expansions have to do with replacing, improving, and expanding its computer area and Internet access; and of course, adding to their DVD selections. Maybe these are the functions of the library of the future, but they do not need to be taxpayer sponsored. Libraries, by definition, are places of books. If they would like to expand in order to compete with Blockbuster video or an Internet Cafe, I suggest that they look at a mulch-tiered form of library cards, with a fee for DVD rental and Internet access, before asking everyone to finance these 'out of the box' business endeavors.  

TARTA, where do we even begin with you? You appear to run a service that few, if any take advantage of in the metropolitan area. Mayors of outlying cities are already crying over the monopoly you hold, the lack of service you provide, and the dollars that you drain. You have no real idea how many people use your service, and ask us for money to provide more. You must think that our heads are emptier than your buses. The only increase in ridership that you can show is with seniors, and you use that to frighten and intimidate us for money. (In case you hadn't heard, they call that extortion.) Go back and count your riders, give us an honest demographic of them, and present us with an effective plan to serve them before you ask for our generosity. 

It's time at last, for organizations asking for money from levies to be up front and honest with the taxpayers. Combine all of your levies and give us an honest look at the money that you would like from us to fund your endeavors. Face the financial reality of the community that you serve when presenting your requests. Do not attempt to confuse us about what these levies will cost us, whether they are new taxes, or whether they are increases. Present us with facts that justify your requests for money. Show us logical business plans to prove to us that our trust in you, once granted, will not be wasted. For many years, organizations like this have poked a stick in the cage of taxpayers. 

Perhaps it's time that you realize that you have finally made us mad enough to get off of our butts and do something about it. You had better pay attention to the reality of the present before we get to the bars and take a big bite out of you.



Chad Quigley said...

Tim... Nice summary. I vote NO on all levy issues thia year. We cannot afford to throw money away on these non-essentials. They all need to learn to live within their means and get a grasp on the Toledo/Lucas County economic picture.

Cosi bombed, the Library is cutting into private business and the Metro Parks...., get some goats and put it up for sale.

Tarta...has NEVER been worth it. While mass transit is a great addition to a city, this system is flawed, hostile and does not service in the right way. The routes suck, the frequency and duration blow, and they are backwards thinkers.

If Tarta wants to get a handle on transportation, they need to visit the site and catch a clue on how to run successful mass transit system.

Tim Higgins said...

High praise indeed from our future mayor!

The recent interviews that Fred Lefebvre did on WSPD made it pretty easy for me to understand. I just thought it was worth putting in summary for the recent transplant, uneducated, and somewhat illiterate like me to understand.

Chad Quigley said...

Tim...never underestimate the un-common man. You are a gifted writer. I've been reading with great interest your take on things and I value your commentary. It's takes a group of people with the brass like you have to help facilitate change.

The thing that sets us apart is that we call em like we see em. Right or wrong, we hold our convictions and stand steadfast in the face of punitive deriliction. Only when faced with facts we did not know are we subject to change our minds.

In the absence of malice is great strength. To be forward and unabashed is to seek wisdom in all things and make common sense decisions. Even when nobody else gets it. :-)

Chad Quigley said...

Oh yeah, the only way these entites are gonna learn to do better with what they have is to cut off the bail outs and force them to re-define their priorities. The strong survive, the weak do not, that's life.

Tim Higgins said...

Again Chad, thanks. I know that we all write in the hope that it will be appreciated and will communicate to others.

As for what effect we might have, you comment reminded me of a quote:

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
- Margaret Mead

With the vote coming up in just a couple of days, let's hope that what we and others have done will have some impact.

Hooda Thunkit said...


Great summary and a very well thought out decision on these "levies."

Hopefully our collective voices, words and writings will not be absorbed and ignored by closed minds...

Tim Higgins said...


My thanks indeed. I fear that closed minds will never hear what we say by definition. My hope is that most of the minds out there are confused instead. With them there is hope.

Jay Ott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jay Ott said...

I think it's ironic that the very same people that TARTA wants to help i.e. their riders who cannot afford cars gas, and insurance, TARTA wants them to get them dependent on TARTA for the rest of their lives in order to keep TARTA in business.

In that sense, it's like the welfare system and other government programs that claim to help people.

That kind of thinking has never helped people become self-sustaining. It only helps grow the government and its intrusion into people's lives and their finances.

Ultimately, it comes down to people having less freedom to be the master's of their own ships due to government programs being funded by levies, fines, and taxes.

Walter Williams is right, it's slavery and thievery.

Tim Higgins said...


Unfortunately you are right in the sense that the only thing that remains consistent with government beaurocracies is that they think that they constantly need to take on more responsibility and get bigger. It began with FDR's "New Deal", and got a new face put on it with Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society". SCHIP gone wrong is just the latest attempt to increase the nanny state.

Our only defense against this expansion of government programs is our opportunity to vote to restrict that growth.