Dayton Board of Ed votes 4-3 to donate taxes to GE/UD

To the school board members, my firm, The Next Wave, is not under contract to do PR for you, we’re working on process improvement and improving enrollment. But, had we been giving PR advice- and trying to help you prepare for any future levy, we would have recommended a few things:

  1. Legislation that arrives on your desk at the beginning of the meeting- that you haven’t had time to properly review is disrespectful to you, and to the community. It should always be tabled for public examination and review. You represent the community- and without opportunity for community input, you are neglecting your duties. I couldn’t find a required inspection period in Ohio Revised Code for legislation- but, I always believed there was a 48-hour period required- unless voted on as an emergency.
  2. A review of all previous TIF agreements that the Dayton Public Schools has been asked to sign off on over the last 20 years- with proof that these deals actually do provide “economic development.”

This shouldn’t be too difficult, since Ohio Revised Code requires a “Tax Incentive Review Council” which should include a designated appointee from your organization:

A The legislative authority of a county, township, or municipal corporation that grants an exemption from taxation under Chapter 725. or 1728. or under section 3735.67, 5709.28, 5709.40, 5709.41, 5709.62, 5709.63, 5709.632, 5709.73, or 5709.78 of the Revised Code shall create a tax incentive review council. The council shall consist of the following members:1 In the case of a municipal corporation eligible to designate a zone under section 5709.62 of the Revised Code, the chief executive officer or that officer’s designee; a member of the legislative authority of the municipal corporation, appointed by the president of the legislative authority or, if the chief executive officer of the municipal corporation is the president, appointed by the president pro tempore of the legislative authority; the county auditor or the county auditor’s designee; the chief financial officer of the municipal corporation or that officer’s designee; an individual appointed by the board of education of each city, local, exempted village, and joint vocational school district to which the instrument granting the exemption applies; and two members of the public appointed by the chief executive officer of the municipal corporation with the concurrence of the legislative authority. At least four members of the council shall be residents of the municipal corporation, and at least one of the two public members appointed by the chief executive officer shall be a minority. As used in division A1 of this section, a “minority” is an individual who is African-American, Hispanic, or Native American.

via Lawriter – ORC – 5709.85 Tax incentive review council..

The vote, 4-3 in favor of corporate handouts to GE had the backing of county employee Joe Lacey- who was elected because he opposed the buying of the Reynolds HQ to become the DPS administration building. However, he seems to see no problem with giving up of millions of potential dollars to fund Dayton Public Schools and instead be directed to his alma mater, the University of Dayton, through this deal.

Voting Yes for the abatement with Mr. Lacey were board president Nancy Nearny, Sheila Taylor and Ron Lee. Voting No were Yvonne Isaacs, Stacy Thompson and newcomer Reverend William Schooler, who vowed to explore legal remedies to stop this deal. Schooler is the only one of the No votes facing re-election in November; Nearny and Taylor are also up for re-election.

The abatement to GE should make every single business in Dayton reconsider their property tax liabilities. While many small businesses have paid willingly to fund a school system that they perceive as failing, it seems that any new employer entering the community gets the option to redirect their share to benefit them. Imagine if I, decided to pay my property taxes to a neighborhood non-profit, Historic South Park, instead of paying them to support schools. Or better yet, I make my “payments in lieu of taxes” to my landlord, to thank him (me) for the restoration of a vacant building so I can get subsidized rent? (full disclosure, my building did get a tax abatement on improvements for a period of 12 or 15 years, but we still had to pay the value and increases on the original building during that period. The building was bought for $2,600 plus $2,400 in back taxes).

I wasn’t able to attend the full meeting, but was there for the final vote. When it came time for the roll-call vote, Mr. Lacey felt it necessary to become the mad parliamentarian, interrupting those who wanted to explain their vote when they made it- screaming for Madame President to cut them off- that discussion period was over- and that only a yes or no response was called for.  I’ll try to find the link to the complete 3 hour+ debacle and post it.

UPDATE July 7. 6:30 PM: The video is online, the voting begins at 2:5o or so, at 2:51:15 is when Mr. Lacey starts his screaming- while Yvonne Isaacs makes her justification, when Schooler does the same thing later- he speaks at a more normal tone. I was in the room- and I felt that he was screaming. [end update]

Also, I made a public records request for the full legislation as presented and passed. I will also post that for you to review. The Dayton City Commission is probably voting on this same TIF agreement tonight at their 6 p.m. meeting.

I’m interested to see what GE actually promised in writing in exchange for this deal. Guarantees of employment? Income tax generation? Actual hours of volunteer time in the schools.

If there had been time for citizen review, I could answer those questions, and you could ask more- before the vote.

a later thought The best economic development tool cities have: good schools. I wonder how many TIF agreements in Centerville, Kettering or Oakwood have been passed with total abatement- including the schools.

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