Taxation ala carte?

I don’t have kids in public school, but I pay a school levy.

I pay for the police, the fire department and other services because I’ve always thought that there was an economy of scale in doing so.

I pay for things I don’t use- and that’s ok.

But, now, Walnut Hills residents are talking about taxing themselves- for their own purposes- which is fine, but, is this a slippery slope to taxation ala carte?

They want the snow plowed in their alleys- I just want my snow plowed in my street. Do we have to set up extra taxes for services that we should already get?

Property owner pushes for special district plan
…a Special Improvement (tax) District — to some 2,500 property owners in Walnut Hills. Leitzell is president of the Walnut Hills Association and a member of Dayton’s Southeast Priority Board.

In a SID, property owners must agree to pay an assessment, in this case a flat $50 a year per building fee to generate $100,000 a year.

The Walnut Hills Special Improvement District would be bordered by Wyoming Street to the North, Pursell Avenue to the east, E. Stewart Street to the south and Woodland Cemetery to the west.

The Walnut Hills SID is being modeled loosely after the one established by the Downtown Dayton Partnership for the city’s central business district. That improvement district became effective in 1996 and must be approved every five years…

…In order for the assessment to be imposed, 60 percent of the property owners in the neighborhood must agree to pay the tax. Property owners also must agree, in general, on how the money would be used. Approval is sought by having property owners sign a petition.

The neighborhood must make a formal request to city staff to create the SID, then the City Commission has final say.

“We’re open to the conversation. It really does take a super majority of property owners with a shared vision,” John Gower, Dayton’s director of planning and community development said…

…The Walnut Hills Association plans to create a packet that other neighborhoods can use as a guide, if they also want to pursue a SID.

“Once done, other neighborhoods in Dayton and across Ohio may follow our lead,” Leitzell said.

Why don’t we just put a meter on every firetruck and bill the people having a fire? Or, only tax people who have kids for schools? Because it doesn’t work.

SID’s are a way to make sure you serve the “what’s in it for me” crowd- but very little is achieved when it comes to the big picture.

Wouldn’t it be better if the city just provided a better level of service?

What do you think?

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5 Responses

  1. Drexel Dave June 27, 2007 / 4:21 pm
    Yeah, it sure would be nice if the city paid attention to Walnut Hills Park, the Wayne Ave. strip, etc…but they don’t, and after thirty or forty years of waiting, folks see that that is not going to change anytime soon.

    However, the Walnut Hills neighborhood, like other neighborhoods in Dayton, wants neighborhood parks programs and other services that we are not getting.

    So, to the praise of the neighborhood association and the very active and proactive Gary Leitzell, I commend them, and will support the signature myself, although I wish I didn’t have to. However, I do feel that the Walnut Hills Neighborhood Association will be much better stewards of dollars than the Rain Men of city hall.

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  2. Kevin June 28, 2007 / 9:15 am
    What DD said. I don’t think this is going to change anything you get or don’t get. Think of it like me sending my kid(s) to a private school. Public school is still there, but I want different, and like where I live. Instead of school, this will be alley plowing. I just hope they keep it democratic if the snow doesn’t fall and they have decide what to do with the extra funds.

    I would be impressed if they are able to collect up to 60% of these funds, if passed. More power to Gary and Walnut Hills. They are good neighbors to South Park.

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  3. Phillip Ranly June 28, 2007 / 10:54 am
    I think this is great. The residents care about their neighborhood—and that can’t always be said. And they care enough to actually do something about their situation! It would be great if the city just provided a better level of service but that’s not the case. I like the stuff that’s happening in this part of the city. The people seem to be pretty active in the neighborhood.

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  4. gene June 28, 2007 / 5:53 pm
    I think the City has pretty good services, amazing what a couple of doughnuts can do.

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  5. Gary Leitzell July 1, 2007 / 4:56 pm
    It is nice to see such strong support for what I am trying to do. The goal isn’t to get money and have it to spend. The goal is to make Walnut Hills a desirable neighborhood to live in. If I could get every resident to make a tax deductible contribution to the neighborhood association then I wouldn’t have to propose a tax. The reality is that donations are voluntary and membership dues of a mere $2 only generate a couple of hundred dollars per year. We are very limited with what we can achieve with a few hundred dollars. I have realized that the city administration is limited. They are limited by their budget, they are limited by their enthusiasm and they are limited by their creative vision and fear of failure. I am only limited by the budget. Right now there are no neighborhoods within 2 miles of the city center that can be described as desirable for educated families. If Walnut Hills can be the first and others follow our lead, the impact of having say five or six desirable neighborhoods within the city’s core would be tremendous. We will eliminate vacant structures within those neighborhoods because people will want to own them. We will reduce the number of poorly maintained rental properties and we will effectively curb petty crime if neighborhoods become more responsible for their own surroundings. We will also be able to provide services for our residents that the city is not prepared to provide or that haven’t even been conceived yet. It is unfortunate that this has to be viewed as a tax. Those of us with a vision and belief in community see it as a mandatory way of “paying it forward” for the next generation. If I don’t try this then no-one else will. If we try and succeed, we will be heros. If we try and fail, we will be educators. Either way, the result has a positive impact.

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