All those politicians cost you money

In the UK where me Mum is from, they have a word they like to use for layoffs and for downsizing: redundant. It even has specific legal meaning.

In Ohio we’ve never met a jurisdiction, legislator, or representative that didn’t think the world couldn’t live without them or what they do. It’s contributed to government getting bigger- and having the net result of driving costs up- and jobs and people away from the State. It’s why Republicans talk about smaller government all the time (but do squat to make it happen- Ohio continued to hire people under Bob Taft and a Republican Statehouse).

Now- the DDN reports:

Montgomery County has more tax levies on the ballot next week than any other county in the state, Ohio Secretary of State records show.

The county has 17 property tax levies on the May 4 ballot, one more than Cuyahoga County, the largest county in the state. Of those, eight are school levies and the rest are township issues replacing, renewing or adding to existing levies.

Of course, growth in government has been as unchecked as our sprawl, where the amount of developed land has increased at 3x the number of people.

Montgomery County’s 92 taxing districts have 277 levies on the books today, 18 more than a decade ago, according to county Auditor Karl Keith’s office. The total effective millage, or net tax rate, for homeowners and agricultural land owners has grown 25 percent over that time.

Some say the number of levy requests next week — 431 statewide — reflects a fractured system of local government and education, one that’s inefficient, costly and confusing to voters.

“Because there are so many of these jurisdictions, (voters) really don’t know what the priorities are, especially now in this environment — people are a little bit cranky, they’re tightening their belts and they’re wondering if they can afford another tax increase,” said Mark Partridge, an Ohio State University economics professor who studies rural and urban issues.

Partridge advocates a regional approach to government, where there’s greater collaboration and less competition among neighboring communities for jobs and development, tax dollars and services. Such a system could lead to more accountability, too, he said.

“When there’s too much local government, no one’s really accountable; no one knows who to blame when things go wrong or who to credit when things go right,” he said.

Of course the “Think Tanks” can tell us the obvious:

Partridge’s views are shared by researchers from the Brookings Institution and the Greater Ohio Policy Center, two pro-urban think tanks that issued a report in February entitled, Restoring Prosperity: Transforming Ohio’s Communities for the Next Economy.

The report found Ohio has some 3,800 local government units, including 250 cities, 695 villages and 1,308 townships. The state has a total local government payroll 10 percent above the national average and it has the ninth-highest local tax burden in the country, compared with the 34th highest for state taxes.

All of which is “undercutting our ability to be economically competitive,” said Lavea Brachman, Greater Ohio’s co-director.

“We have a preference for local service delivery and that’s understandable, but it’s not sustainable these days,” Brachman said Monday, April 26.

It’s been going on with the School systems as well- but the consultants can’t even get to the obvious- that 88 counties is too many- and that Countywide School systems like North Carolina and Georgia are what is needed at minimum- and since State standards are what is really being governed- there may not be any need for much of the County level administration either – imagine if we dumped responsibility down straight to the Principals of each school? Aren’t they the ones ultimately tracked now for delivery of test scores?

On the school side, Greater Ohio and Brookings say the state needs to cut the number of school districts it has by a third to around 400. “We’re 47th in the nation in terms of spending that goes to instruction and ninth (for spending) that goes to administration,” Brachman said. “That really raises questions about where is this additional funding going, is it contributing to quality in the classroom.”

all above indented material via Montgomery has highest number of tax levies on ballot.

Instead of voting on Constitutional Amendments on what piece of Real Estate a Casino should be on (Issue 2)- why don’t we start mandating for government reductions through consolidation and the elimination of unnecessary services (like “Economic development” which just seems to be an excuse to hire friends of politicians to pay them big bucks- to give our money away to Corporations that then donate to the politicians in an never ending cycle).

A ten year plan to cut numbers of jurisdictions by half and then half again in an additional 10 years would do more for “economic development” in Ohio than anything else. We can’t afford to continue to “buy” jobs from other States- and stay in business:

A lot of pieces, financial and otherwise, came together in the past year to convince law firm WilmerHale to locate its new business services center at Miami Valley Research Park.

Jay Westcott, the firm’s assistant managing partner and a Springfield native, said moving support operations from Boston, New York and Washington, D.C., would allow the company to save money and improve performance by consolidating to a single site.

There was also a list of financial incentives, most significantly a $1.46 million job creation tax credit approved Monday, April 26, by the Ohio Tax Credit Authority.

The Montgomery County Commission approved a $250,000 economic development grant April 20, and the city of Kettering and Miami Valley Research Foundation each pledged $500,000 in support.

via 187 new research, technology jobs coming to area.

Until we’re on a level playing field with all the other states, in not handing tax dollars and tax breaks to companies, the tax burdens on the rest of the State will continue to drive business and people out.

Any local government not discussing merging, reduction in taxes, consolidation and “redundancy” should be getting the message at the ballot box as the overtaxed citizens say enough is enough and start voting levy’s down.

At the State level- we should be implementing new laws to allow regional government, eliminating the “township” status for anything other than pure agricultural land (no more auto plants in cornfields- or the taxes on farmers and food go way up to support the infrastructure of automotive plants for example).

When have you heard a politician talking about this issue with a real, concrete plan? Why not?

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