Vote NO on Sinclair Issue 4 and lower your taxes

Logic is something they are supposed to teach in college, yet, Sinclair Community College fails to use it when explaining their reason for only taxing Montgomery County property owners while having branch campuses in Warren, Preble and Greene Counties.

The Sinclair line is, residents of other counties have to pay double the tuition of Montgomery County residents. Yet, to become a “Montgomery County resident” only takes 6 months, while they’ve been taxing us for 52 years! And, by the same logic, if we just stopped taxing Montgomery county residents- and just doubled tuition, everything would be hunky-dory.

Sinclair has approximately 20,000 students. Montgomery County has about 540,000 residents, why we have to subsidize a training center for companies like CareSource, Premier Health and Kettering Health Network (who don’t pay the property tax- yet give big sums to the levy campaign) is a bit of a mystery. If the economic impact of Sinclair was so great, why is Warren County one of the fastest growing counties in the state? Could it be that their tax burden is so much lower than Montgomery County. Need proof- the Dayton Daily News built their “Print Technology Center” in Warren County 20 years ago- and now that the tax abatement has worn off- and no one reads their sad “Dayton Day Old News” anymore, they are printing in Indiana and selling their taj mahal.

Sinclair hasn’t fared well in performance measurements for value either. Wallethub did a study and Sinclair came in 2nd to worst of Ohio Community Colleges (only slightly besting Columbus State.)

I have no problem supporting Sinclair if they stop providing services outside Montgomery County- or begin to tax all the other counties they are operating in. That’s what we call “Keep Sinclair Fair” and have a site dedicated to the issue.

And because this community can be very petty to companies and people who go against the powers that be, we’ve set up a 501c4 political action committee, “Reconstructing Dayton” to work on issues of regionalism, ending cronyism and to help independent voices who support our goals.  We’ve also got some pet democracy projects to support. You can donate at will to Reconstructing Dayton to help defeat the unfair taxing of Montgomery County real estate to support the Sinclair Empire which stretches far outside our boundaries. Money will be spent to run a media campaign to inform voters that voting for Sinclair as it’s funded now is contributing to the welfare of other counties. No matter what Sinclair backers say.

We’ve seen plenty of examples of unfair taxation right here in Montgomery County, including the crazy rules of Austin Landing where only the retail workers pay an income tax. It’s time to stand up to the corrupt powers that allow this kind of punitive bullshit taxation to pass as “economic development” or a rational approach to growth.

Please consider donating and supporting our efforts to bring fair taxation to Montgomery County at all levels.

 

 

Just say no to Amazon HQ2

Say no to Amazon HQ 2, sad amazon logo

Just say No to Amazon HQ2

If your city thinks it should offer incentives for Amazon to come to town, it’s time to reevaluate your leadership.

Sure, landing an HQ for a corporate behemoth is prestigious, and  can put any city on the map, but, to offer incentives to one of the richest companies in the world, that has been stealing from local coffers from its inception?

If you are looking at empty retail developments, a hollowed out downtown, declining sales tax receipts in the last 15 years- thank Amazon. It’s not that they did anything wrong, it’s that they did almost everything right- including putting pressure on every small business (the true job creators in America) to cut margins and compete on an uneven playing field.

An uneven playing field that is just made more uneven when our leaders are willing to bend over and offer their rear ends for a reaming with a smile. There is a reason Amazon has to make more room outside Seattle- they can’t afford to stay there. They’ve already driven the housing and office markets into the stratosphere, they’ve pushed the limits of infrastructure, they’ve caused more troubles than they’ve solved- all in the name of “winning” at the capitalist trough.

Don’t worry, they aren’t alone. We’ve seen it time and time again- as companies that don’t pay taxes like General Electric leverage their “job creation” into tax free offices in places like poverty stricken Dayton Ohio. Or watched companies like Boeing move their HQ from  Seattle to Chicago. NCR did the same to Dayton- and now their stock is worth less and their CEO makes more.

It’s not governments job to subsidize and coddle business- it’s governments job to provide a safe, healthy, clean, secure and well organized platform for communities to thrive. Business is only one part of that equation. It’s time to put a stop to corporate welfare.

What’s laughable is that despite not clicking on any of the boxes of Amazon’s dream list- Dayton thinks it should be in the running. This coming from a city manager who has repeatedly failed at “economic development” projects- the Wayne Avenue Kroger debacle, where years and millions of tax dollars went into actually devaluing a community, in order to lure a store that was supposed to come- however, she’d forgotten to get that in writing. On the other- the hole on Ludlow- City Manager Shelly Dickstein gave millions to developers who didn’t do anything but promise to do something- even stiffing the demolition company that ended up owning one of the historic gems of Downtown. And then she had the nerve to insist any developer of the vacant space which the city still owns- has to buy the demolition companies building as entry to the deal (how this isn’t illegal is beyond reason).

Let’s see- Dayton doesn’t have over a million people, it doesn’t have an airport with the connections, it’s lacking in quality education (no, you can’t move 50,000 people into the Oakwood School district), we don’t have a highly educated workforce ready to switch jobs (counting the base is laughable- many of those people have contracts with the US Government that aren’t really negotiable). The list goes on.

Only the Dayton Daily news would even write about this pipe dream without laughing. The New York Times did an analysis and came up with Denver, other smart publications have also done their filtering and come up with other communities- none in Ohio.

The attraction of jobs that pay six figures landing in your city with an income tax is mouth watering, however, the chances of landing them in a city with a 2.5% income tax on top of a state income tax is slim. Especially when Denver does it without any income tax.

At some point, Ohio needs to grow up and realize that allowing this state to be a ridiculous patchwork of local fiefdoms all trying to stay in power and support the friends and family plan of the Ohio Political Caste is keeping us from competing. You can’t have 28 jurisdictions in one county, and 88 counties in a state that’s losing population and clout at an alarming rate without thinking “we’re doing something wrong.”

Nationally, this country needs to just put an end to “economic development” incentives that support big companies over small ones, and make the playing field uneven and unfair. Did the residents of Georgia even get their $100 Million they invested to lure NCR there back, before NCR asked for another handout to move within the State? Doubtful.

If you read George Orwell’s “Animal farm”- this line should come to mind: “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Did Dayton road construction kill another business? Denny’s to close tomorrow

Although the management out of Cleveland won’t confirm, it’s pretty clear that Denny’s at 1136 S. Main Street is closing tomorrow.

No more late night hangout downtown after everything closes. Nope. Not allowed. Work a long second shift and want to grab a bite at 2 a.m.? Too bad. Not in Nan’s city.

Now, before you go look at the Google reviews, or Yelp or Trip Advisor and say – “yeah, well, they sucked” – you also have to understand the forces they are up against- mainly- a road that no one wanted to drive down for a year plus. It’s hard to keep good help, when business is choked off. Why it took so long to repave a mile of road is a mystery. The Allies landed on the Normandy beachhead and managed to cross 7 major rivers that had the bridges bombed- in less time on their march to Berlin.

Of course, Denny’s doesn’t matter to the City of Dayton. All that matters is Miami Valley Hospital- where the overpaid leadership contributes healthily to the campaign of Mayor Nan. Or UD, or Miller Valentine. Or GE, or Emerson- or other companies that either don’t pay property taxes, or get huge tax-abatement gifts- in exchange for the promise of higher-paying jobs for people who can’t vote in the city because they live in the ‘burbs for the most part. Denny’s hired Dayton residents. Jobs. Not great ones- but, every job and every business should matter.

There was a lot of second guessing about what the city should have done to keep NCR in Dayton- but, no one will wonder what Dayton should have done to keep Denny’s.

Before the construction of the building on Brown that now houses Hot Head Burritos, Ginger & Spice and Subway, a small developer wanted to put an IHOP in that was going to be a 24-hour establishment- just like Denny’s. The hospital and the “Fairgrounds neighborhood” fought it. Noise complaints. Safety complaints.  Never mind the helicopters at all hours of the night. The developer was being told they’d have to hire an off-duty Dayton cop around the clock. Screw it. He stopped doing business in the city.

The real test will be to see what happens to the empty building. If the hospital buys it- or if someone else has their fingers in it already. It’s registered to BGZ Investments out of Addington, Texas, on the super slow Montgomery County auditor’s site (thanks Tyler Technologies). In the 15 years available on the site- the tax value has climbed from $390,400 to $460,530 despite the building being in pretty sad shape. Since 1999, they’d paid $250,799.40 in property taxes.

Best of luck to the employees in finding new jobs. Some of them had been there for a really long time.

Banking inequity

I have a contract sitting around somewhere for a home equity loan with Gem Savings from around 1990. It was one page, letter sized, in large type- and was all I needed to sign to get an equity loan on my house.

Now that document would run 8 pages of micro-type and include things like an arbitration clause, denying me the right to use the justice system to settle any grievances.

Later I signed one of those really long contracts to refinance my house with a bank. They changed the terms at the last minute, after jerking me around for weeks. Then, promptly sold the loan off to some mortgage servicing company, and then it’s been transferred time and time again- all without proper recording of title and lien transfer at the County Building.

If you or I sold a property and didn’t record the transaction, it wouldn’t be considered valid.

My small business, a sole proprietorship, recently teamed with another small business to do a large deal- $130,000, with a very small margin. When I went to deposit $90K, they wanted to hold my money for a week- despite being told well in advance this deal was coming. The banker even tried to warn me that this could be fraud. I had promised the vendor I’d pay by wire transfer- and was told by the bank it’d be $25 to wire money out. They didn’t tell me there was a $13 fee to have it wired into my account.

I’ve even had them putting holds on rent checks that are certified. Apparently, “Certified checks are easy to forge” which is why the hold according to my bank. WTF good is a certified check then? I do work for a credit union- which pays with certified checks- even those get a hold.

It’s getting harder and harder to run a small business, and banks behaving badly is just one more obstacle for small business to overcome. When I was a youngster in business school, you were advised to have counsel of a lawyer, accountant and a banker. Since the deregulation/consolidation of banking in this country, I’d say you’d be hard pressed to find any banker with actual lending authority anymore.

The last one I encountered was at Eaton National Bank- which once it got absorbed by LCNB ceased to be what it was. I’m experimenting with Wright Patt Credit Union now- which is one of the few credit unions that can do business lending. It’s becoming apparent that small business really is better off with a credit union instead of a bank, but I’m not sure if this applies to start-ups (I’ve been in business for 25 years).

One of the problems is that small business can’t buy the politicians’ ears the way big business can. When was the last time you heard of a tax break for small businesses? A program to help small businesses grow- that wasn’t driven by big business financial tricks (like quick write-offs of capital expenses)?

What could change if small businesses were given tax credits rewarding them for each full-time employee, length of employment, and growth in payroll that were redeemable for low-interest loans and access to working capital? What incentives could we offer to encourage the big banks to take small business seriously?

Small business powers most of our job growth, but, there are no small banks left to work with them. It’s time to solve this problem.

Dayton tax dollars being donated to the rich

The Talbott Tower is owned by Allan Rinzler. He’s not exactly hurting for cash- he can afford to donate enough money to have a sports complex named after himself at Wright State. The Talbott tower is one of the higher occupancy towers left in downtown- in fact, I remember Mr. Rinzler telling me it’s one of the only ones to not go into bankruptcy/foreclosure.

And this is probably one of the reasons why:

The corporate headquarters for YMCA of Greater Dayton is moving to an office building across the street in downtown Dayton.

The YMCA is finalizing a lease at the Talbott Tower for 9,000 square feet for its corporate headquarters. The organization’s headquarters are currently in an 8,000-square-foot space in the 111 W. 1st St. building across the street. The deal will keep the group’s 30 employees, with a total payroll of $1.25 million, in downtown. Those employees will continue to support downtown retailers, and pay Dayton income taxes.

“We were presented with a great opportunity and we’re excited to go over to the Talbott Tower,” said Dale Brunner, president and CEO. “We’re excited to sign it and stay part of the downtown area.”

The city of Dayton on Wednesday morning approved a $75,000 neighborhood grant to help the Talbott Tower fund about $150,000 worth of renovations in the new space, in order to keep the YMCA in downtown. That decision reflects the fact that nonprofits are now among the most dynamic office users in downtown, and the most sought after by office tower landlords looking to fill their vacancies.

Bob Grabringer, property manager for the tower, will act as the construction manager and will hire subcontractors with whom he already has a relationship.

Source: Dayton YMCA to move HQ into Talbott Tower – Dayton Business Journal

That’s $75K of your money- enough to pay a cop or two for a year, or mow an awful lot of empty lots- or tear down a few abandoned homes. If you were the owner of the building across the street that the Y was moving away from- you could use that money to try to keep the Y in your building, but that’s not how it works in Dayton. We take care of those who take care of those who run for office.

This isn’t the first time Rinzler has been on the receiving end of a good taxpayer funded deal- he was one of the partners that owned the old Sears building downtown, along with the Feldmans (our former county administrators family), Mr. Sandy Mendelson, Mr. Jason Liff and Irvin Moskowitz all got a nice bit of action to make sure that the county could put a fountain on a tiny bit of that parcel. Bought for $200K and sold for over $8 million.

There are lots of other developers who have gotten support from the city- and still ended up in bankruptcy. Your tax dollars contributed to the Arcade, the Arcade Tower, the former CitFed, 5/3rd bank and now Premier Health Tower, all of which failed.

Don’t you wonder if all the money that’s been squandered on “economic development” had been spent on cleaning and repairing streets, safety forces, better schools, parks- and getting out of the way of developers- we might never have taken a dive. Or if we hadn’t raised our income tax over that of every other community- since it was collected from non-residents- who have now all voted with theit feet to the mecca of tax-free income (if you are a white collar employee only) at Austin Landing.

Tax dollars that are spent in pursuit of tax dollars are dollars a lot like a certain cartoon character who used to say, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today”- but, Tuesday never seems to come to Dayton.