A proposal for a 10-year, 1 Mill recreation property tax levy is on the agenda for today's Toledo City Council Meeting. It is likely to be referred to the Youth, Parks, Recreation and Community Relations Committee which is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. on June 14th.
I've already taken a position against the levy, and nothing I've seen or read since then has changed my mind. I also did a tongue-in-cheek post that suggested shooting ranges if the levy actually passes.
But it's not just the tax - there are other items included with the proposal.
It starts with a resolution requesting certification of the amount of money the tax would raise and declaring Toledo's intent to put the measure on the ballot:
Declaring the intent to raise additional funds for recreational purposes by providing for the submission to the electors of the City of Toledo, as authorized by R.C. 5705.19(H), at the general election to be held on November 6, 2012, of a question to approve the imposition of a tax levy not to exceed 1 mill for the ten (10) year period 2012-2021, both inclusive; providing general guidelines for the use of potential levy funds; requesting certification from the Lucas County Auditor; and declaring an emergency.
WHEREAS, the Council of the City of Toledo is cognizant of the necessity of providing expanded and continuing recreational programs and facilities for the citizens of Toledo; and
WHEREAS, such recreational programs would be a great benefit to adults and particularly children of school age by providing for a balanced, accessible recreational program; and
WHEREAS, the City of Toledo has inadequate funds for such recreational purposes and all indications are that adequate funds shall not be available from present resources and taxes within the ten mill limitation (inside millage) in the foreseeable future; and
WHEREAS, the Recreation District Steering Committee created by Council has recommended that the proposed levy for the purposes of funding parks and recreation within the City of Toledo be submitted to the electors of the City of Toledo; and
WHEREAS, the Council finds and determines that the proposed tax levy as being the best means of accomplishing the recreational objectives of the City in accordance with and pursuant to the City’s statutory and constitutional powers; NOW, THEREFORE,
Be it resolved by the Council of the City of Toledo:
SECTION 1. That the Council of the City of Toledo will pass a resolution providing for submitting a question to the electors at the general election on November 6, 2012, authorizing Council to impose a levy not to exceed 1 mill for ten (10) years beginning with the year 2012 to provide funds for recreational purposes, as authorized by R.C. 5705.19(H).
SECTION 2. That Council declares its intention to pass such resolution and certify it not later than August 8, 2012.
SECTION 3. That the Parks and Recreation Levy Fund to be established upon passage of the tax levy shall be governed by the following general guidelines:
(a) The Council has the ultimate power and discretion to implement the City’s overall recreational program, which includes but shall not be limited to approving budgets and expenditures required for each project, facility and program, subject to compliance with all applicable local, state and federal laws.
(b) The Council shall consider recommendations from the Toledo Parks, Athletics and Recreation Commission at least annually in conjunction the preparation of the Annual Operating Budget of the City of Toledo and the expenditure of amounts from the Parks and Recreation Levy Fund.
(c) The City shall not make expenditures from the Parks and Recreation Levy Fund that are not lawfully related to the City’s Parks and Recreation activities and/or programs.
SECTION 4. That the Council requests the Lucas County Auditor to certify to the Council of the City of Toledo the total current tax valuation of the City of Toledo, and the dollar amount of revenue that would be generated by a 1 mill levy.
SECTION 5. That this Resolution is declared to be an emergency measure and shall take effect and be in force immediately from and after its adoption. The reason for the emergency lies in the fact that same is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety and property, and for the further reason that same is necessary to maintain the parks and recreation programs of the City.
Note the wording: "the necessity of providing expanded and continuing recreational programs and facilities." They don't just want to fund current programs, they want to create more programs and even new facilities - buildings, property, etc... All of which will require ever-increasing amounts of funding to maintain.
Oh - and since when is recreation a necessity??? Isn't it, by very definition, a pastime and not a 'need'?
The next item is the resolution putting the item on the ballot:
To provide funds for recreation purposes, as authorized by R.C. 5705.19(H), there should be submitted to the electors of the City of Toledo, at the general election to be held on November 6, 2012, the question of the approval of a tax levy not to exceed 1 mill for the ten year period of 2012-2021; both inclusive, beyond the present constitutional, statutory and charter limitations; providing for certification and notice to the Board of Elections of Lucas County; and declaring an emergency.
WHEREAS, the amount of taxes which may be raised within the ten mill limitation (inside millage) by the levies on the current tax duplicate will be insufficient to provide an adequate amount for the necessary requirements for recreational purposes of the City of Toledo; NOW, THEREFORE,
Be it resolved by the Council of the City of Toledo, with two-thirds of all members elected concurring as follows:
SECTION 1. That Council finds and declares that it is necessary to levy a tax in excess of the ten mill limitation for the benefit of the City of Toledo for recreational purposes, as authorized by R.C. 5705.19(H), at a rate not exceeding 1 mill for each dollar of assessed valuation, which amounts to $0.10 for each one hundred dollars of such valuation, for the ten (10) year period from 2012 to 2021, both inclusive.
SECTION 2. That the limitations, if any, of the Toledo Charter upon the powers of Council to levy general property taxes shall not operate as a limitation upon the power of Council to levy taxes upon such other subjects and for such other purposes as may be lawful under the Constitution and laws of the State of Ohio, nor shall this Resolution be deemed to be a limitation upon the power of Council to incur indebtedness for such improvements and all other lawful purposes within constitutional and statutory limitations.
SECTION 3. That the Clerk of Council is directed to certify to the Board of Elections of Lucas County, Ohio, the enactment of this Resolution for the submission of the aforesaid amendment at the general election to be held on November, 6, 2012, and the Clerk of Council is directed to request the Board of Elections to provide for submitting the question at said election as provided by law, and notify the Board of Elections to cause notice thereof to be lawfully given.
SECTION 4. That the following ballot language is recommended to the Board of Elections for their consideration:
“Shall a tax be levied for the benefit of the City of Toledo for the purposes of providing parks and recreational facilities, programs and services at a rate not exceeding 1.0 mill for each one dollar of valuation, which amounts to $0.10 for each one hundred dollars of valuation, for 10 years, commencing in 2012, first due in year 2013.”
SECTION 5. That this Resolution, pursuant to R.C. 5705.19, shall take effect and be in force from and after its adoption, and pursuant to the City Charter, this resolution is also declared an emergency measure and shall take effect and be in force immediately from and after its adoption. The reason for the emergency lies in the fact that same is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety and property and for the further reason that same is necessary to maintain the recreational program of the City.
Let me explain the 10-Mill limitation. Ohio law allows jurisdictions to tax us up to 10 Mills. Anything over and above that 10-Mill limitation has to go on the ballot for approval of the voters. If my count is correct, not including schools, there are 13 property tax levies a Toledo resident pays over and above the 10-Mill limitation.
Note, too, that this is a 10-year levy. According to the Toledo City Charter, no person can serve more than 12 consecutive years on council. Steven Steele was appointed in 2009. Lindsay Webb was first elected in 2007 and took office January 2008. Neither of these two sponsors are going to be on council when this levy, if passed, will be up for renewal. They want to stick us with the costs and both will be gone before it expires.
This item also contains the ballot language which fails to mention the fact that the money won't just be for existing recreation - but for expanded programs and facilities.
But there's more....
They want to create a new board, Toledo Parks, Athletic and Recreation Commission, that would merge the parks commission, athletic commission and recreation commission into one. It would also merge any funds associated with the commissions.
Here are the duties of the new board:
The purpose of the Toledo Parks, Athletic and Recreation Commission is to enhance the quality of life for the City’s citizens through the creation, improvement and maintenance of parks, athletic and recreational opportunities, facilities and programs. The Commission shall serve in an advisory capacity to City Council and the Administration on all matters related to parks, recreation and athletic facilities and programs within and operated under the auspices of the City. Duties of the Commission include the following:
(a) To evaluate and recommend updates to Council and the Mayor of the City Master Plan for parks, recreation and athletics at least every three years.
(b) To annually evaluate and recommend to Council and the Mayor updates to the strategic plan for City parks, recreation and athletic facilities and programs, and as part of this process to hold at least one public community forum to facilitate citizen input.
(c) To confer with the Division of Parks, Recreation and Forestry and make specific recommendations to the Mayor and Council related to priority capital projects and funding.
(d) To consult with the Mayor, Council and the Division of Parks, Recreation and Forestry on specific recommendations pertaining to the City’s operating budget and programming related to parks, athletics and recreation.
(e) To consider, investigate, report and recommend upon any special matter referred to it by Council or the Mayor.
(f) To hold such regular meetings of not less than six per year as are necessary to carry out the duties of the Commission and to keep a record of all meetings.
My 'quality of life' would be greatly enhanced if they didn't keep taking so much money from me to enhance my quality of life!
Did you catch the reference to a "strategic plan" for parks, recreation and athletic facilities and programs?
Obviously, we have to have a strategic plan if a commission is going to update it yearly.
Which leads to the last item - creating a master plan at a cost of $25,000:
Authorizing the expenditure of an amount not to exceed $25,000 from the Toledo Athletic Commission Trust Fund to pay for consulting services for the development of a Master Plan for the City of Toledo Parks and Recreation Facilities and Programs; waiving competitive bidding or competitive proposal requirements of T.M.C Chapter 187; waiving T.M.C. section 163.05; authorizing the Mayor to enter into any necessary agreements for the development of such Master Plan with Pros Consulting LLC; and declaring an emergency.
SUMMARY & BACKGROUND:
In conjunction with current efforts of Council and the Recreation District Steering Committee to study issues related to the challenges facing our residents, including senior and youth in accessing affordable recreational opportunities, evaluate existing resources, develop partnerships and explore funding sources, it is critical to update the City of Toledo’s Parks and Recreation Master Plan. The City’s Parks and Recreation Master Plan was last updated fifteen years ago. As time is of the essence in completing this master plan, the use of a competitive proposal process would cause a detrimental delay. Pros Consulting, LLC performed a preliminary evaluation of the City of Toledo parks and recreation facilities and is able to best complete the master plan update in the necessary time frame. Pros Consulting, LLC is a full-service management consulting and planning firm focusing on services to government and not-for-profit agencies. The firm was formed in 1995 to serve the park, recreation, and leisure services industry. The City is best served by bringing this matter directly to Council for approval. Pros Consulting has agreed to complete an update of the City of Toledo’s Parks and Recreation Master Plan by the October 1, 2012 for a fee not to exceed $25,000. NOW, THEREFORE,
Be it ordained by the Council of the City of Toledo:
SECTION 1. That Council waives the competitive proposal requirements of T.M.C. Chapter 187 and authorizes the Mayor to enter into any necessary agreements with Pros Consulting, LLC for the completion of an update of the City of Toledo Parks and Recreation Master Plan at a cost not to exceed $25,000.
SECTION 2. That an amount not to exceed $25,000 is authorized to be expended from the Toledo Athletic Commission Trust Fund, Account Code 2090–60300–7T71509STDSTD for the hiring of Pros Consulting LLC to provide an update of the City of Toledo’s Parks and Recreation Master Plan; and that Council waives the provisions of T.M.C. 163.05.
SECTION 3. That the Finance Director is authorized to draw his warrant or warrants against Account Code 2090–60300–7T71509STDSTD upon presentation of upon presentation of the proper voucher or vouchers.
SECTION 4. That this Ordinance hereby is declared to be an emergency measure and shall be in force and effect from and after its passage. The reason for the emergency lies in the fact that same is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety and property, and for the further reason that the Ordinance must be immediately effective in order to provide best solutions related to the challenges facing Toledo residents in accessing affordable recreational opportunities.
Yep - a no-bid contract to an Indiana firm with offices in Texas and California. Oh - and did you see that part of what they're supposed to do is "explore funding sources"?
Why would we need a levy if we're going to spend $25,000 to exploring funding sources????
Interestingly, one of the success stories on the company's website is this:
12 pass - 1 loss in bond referendums $900m+
And all of this is, of course, an emergency.
The committee meeting is Thursday at 10 a.m. in City Council Chambers at Government Center. All you have to do is sign your name on the paper at the podium and you can speak to them about the issue.
If you can't make the meeting, here is a link to council members - clicking on the names in the right-hand column will give you the individual email addresses, but they're easy: firstname.lastname@example.org
The phone number for council is 419-245-1050.
Let them know what you think.