5 districts have levies on Tuesday’s ballot

Published: Monday, August 06, 2012 @ 3:05 PM
Updated: Monday, August 06, 2012 @ 3:05 PM

Tuesday’s special election includes just a handful of issues, but most represent millions of dollars for local school districts.

Xenia, Vandalia-Butler and Tipp City each have levies asking for new money, Northmont voters will decide on a renewal levy, and Bethel has both a renewal levy and a replacement levy on the ballot.

Districts cited declining property values and comprehensive state budget reductions for their decreased revenues, and have made cuts to school programs and personnel in addition to seeking levy funds.

Xenia

In May, the Xenia Board of Education approved the outsourcing of three departments — transportation, custodial, and maintenance and information technology services — in a move that cut 88 jobs and was expected to save the district $5 million over five years.

The Greene County district announced tiered cuts in late April that would cut $2.6 million from the budget, in addition to the $8.6 million in reductions made since 2010. Those cuts included a three-year pay freeze for all staff and administrators, and the laying off of 30 employees.

Xenia’s levy on Tuesday’s ballot is a 1.5 percent earned income tax, which would replace the current 0.5 percent standard income tax. It is expected to generate $7.7 million annually for the district; it currently raises about $3 million per year.

The earned income tax would apply to salaries, wages, tips, bonuses and partnership income, but not to pension checks, investments, interest or capital gains income, all of which are taxed by the school district today. Social Security benefits, workers compensation, and most unemployment benefits are not taxable under either system, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation.

If that levy is approved, the new rate would take effect Jan. 1; if it is rejected, the current tax would continue through 2016.

Matt Thomas, whose Voices for Xenia Community Schools group started a petition in February calling for changes in the district’s leadership, said there is concern in the community about being “double taxed.”

“The bond issue that paid to build the elementary schools also starts in January,” Thomas said. “Parents are going to have a hard time making ends meet.”

Greene County Auditor David Graham confirmed that this bond, passed in November 2009, will cost the owner of a $100,000 house about $86 per year.

Mark Manley, spokesman for Xenia Community Schools, agreed the timing of the bond collection is “a complication,” but said the funds from Tuesday’s levy are imperative to the district’s operations.

If the Xenia levy fails Tuesday, Manley said an additional $550,000 in cuts to positions and programs would have to be made immediately, and the district likely would be back on ballot in November.

Vandalia-Butler

Vandalia-Butler City Schools has a 6.99-mill operating and permanent improvement levy on Tuesday’s ballot.

The permanent levy is expected to cost the owner of a $100,000 house roughly $214 per year and generate $3.9 million for the Montgomery County district.

In April, the district announced plans to cut costs by $7 million over two years by eliminating 32 positions; reducing busing, gifted and summer school programs; freezing technology spending; and implementing pay-to-participate fees.

Vandalia-Butler Treasurer Dan Schall said a levy failure would mean additional cuts.

“If the levy doesn’t pass, we will have to redefine our current programming standards,” Schall said. “There is a potential for huge losses in personnel, bigger class sizes and decreased programming.”

However, some local residents believe school districts should find other ways to fund their operations.

Ben Jones, a Butler Twp. resident, said public education has grown to expect too much funding.

“Not passing the school levy will force the discussion of how costs can be reduced and still maintain the high level of service that the school has built a reputation around,” Jones said of Vandalia-Butler.

Like Xenia, Vandalia-Butler and Tipp City officials said they plan to have levies on the ballot in November if their issues fail Tuesday.

Tipp City

Tipp City Exempted Village Schools made $1.3 million in budget reductions this spring, including cutting 10.5 positions, reducing busing, cutting six assistant coach positions and increasing pay-to-participate fees by 50 percent.

The Miami County district has a five-year, 7.95-mill emergency levy on Tuesday’s ballot that is expected to generate $3 million annually.

In addition to declining revenue, the district cited the impending expiration of a three-year renewal levy for the timing of this levy.

It should cost the owner of a $100,000 house roughly $243 per year.

Northmont, Bethel

Northmont City Schools is seeking to renew a five-year, 5.9-mill operating levy. It will continue to cost the owner of a $100,000 house about $180 annually and generate $3.6 million for the district.

The Montgomery County district made multimillion-dollar cuts in 2011 that impacted programming and personnel, in addition to implementing a three-year staff pay freeze.

Bethel Local Schools, which is in Miami County, has two levies on Tuesday’s ballot: A five-year, 2-mill permanent impovement renewal levy, and a five-year, 7-mill replacement levy for operations on the ballot.

The Bethel issues would raise a combined $1.2 million annually.

City issues

In addition to these districts, two local communities will have property tax levies on Tuesday’s ballot.

In Warren County, Franklin voters will decide on a new 3.5-mill levy that would change how residents receive emergency medical services. Franklin Fire Chief Jonathan Westendorf said the city is currently part of a joint ambulance district, but the new levy would put EMS services under the fire department.

Westendorf said if voters approve the 3.5-mill levy, the city will withdraw from the ambulance district, thus canceling a 1.8-mill levy that pays for that service. He said the net increase in cost would be $75 to $80 per year.

Also, Farmersville will ask voters to renew a five-year, 2.5-mill operating levy that generates $35,035 a year for the village’s general fund.

Staff writer Jeremy P. Kelley contributed to this report.

New restaurants, retail shops coming to Oxford

Published: Friday, October 28, 2016 @ 2:25 PM
Updated: Saturday, October 29, 2016 @ 4:37 PM

New restaurants and retail shops are coming to a development on the former Walmart site in Oxford.

Bishop Square — a 50,000-square-foot mixed use development at 419 Locust Street that currently includes 272 units of student housing — is adding Marco’s Pizza, Tim Hortons, a Sprint retail store and a bank.

“The final stage is important because we’ll be building the outlots that sit along Locust, which will serve as the front door to the whole project,” said Josh Rothstein, of Blue Ash-based OnSite Retail Group, which is handling marketing and leasing for the project. “The retailers and restaurants are excited to open their locations here because being across from Kroger, TJ Maxx and Dollar Tree provides tremendous exposure, great visibility and easy access to the shoppers already passing through this part of town.

“It’s also easily in walking distance to not only the concentration of Miami’s campus, but also the off-campus housing population,” Rothstein said.

Two other storefronts on the site are being are in the process of being leased, he said.

Existing Bishop Square tenants include Oxford Lane Library, Mercy Health - Orthopaedics and Sports Rehabilitation, Great Clips and Cloud 9 Vapor Lounge. A second-floor above some of those tenants includes office space.

Alan Kyger, Oxford’s economic development director, said the community is excited to see the Bishop Square project moving into its final phases.

“In 2005, when Walmart moved away from this site, the abandoned building that was left behind was a large eyesore for the Tollgate Business District, as well as for the whole community,” Kyger said. “Developer Robert Fiorita is to be commended in providing such a good-looking redevelopment project.

“The addition of these merchants will provide the citizens of Oxford additional shopping options. I expect each of these new businesses to be very successful in this new development.”

Marco’s Pizza has 700 stores in 35 states, doubling in size over the last five years and on track to 1,000 stores by the end of 2017, according to the company. Area locations include Middletown, Monroe, Hamilton and Liberty Twp. in Butler County.

Tim Hortons has more than 4,400 locations in the United States, Canada and the Middle East. Area locations include Monroe, Springboro and Maineville in Warren County.

Unpaid tickets from red light cameras total in the millions

Published: Friday, June 24, 2011 @ 9:45 AM
Updated: Friday, June 24, 2011 @ 9:45 AM

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

DAYTON, Ohio -- Authorities in the southwest Ohio city of Dayton are ready to crack down on drivers who don't pay red-light camera tickets.

City officials say more than 46,000 tickets worth $3.89 million are unpaid. That's nearly half of all such tickets issued in the last eight years.

The Dayton Daily News says city commissioners could vote next week on an ordinance allowing the city to tow cars that have two or more unpaid tickets. Drivers would have to pay the fines to get their cars back.

Hundreds of U.S. cities now use the cameras, which take pictures of vehicles going through intersections with red lights. Drivers are mailed a citation. In Dayton, the fine is $85, but no points are assessed against the driver's license.

Report outlines problems with red-light, speed cameras

Published: Thursday, October 27, 2011 @ 3:56 PM
Updated: Thursday, October 27, 2011 @ 3:56 PM

A new research report released today outlines problems with the growing trend among cities to outsource traffic enforcement to red-light and speed camera vendors. “Too many cities wrongly sign away power to ensure the safety of citizens on the roads when they privatize traffic law enforcement. Automated traffic ticketing tends to be governed by contracts that focus more on profits than safety.” said Jacqueline Thomas of Ohio PIRG, the Ohio Public Interest Research Group. “That shouldn’t happen,” Thomas added.

The report, titled Caution: Red Light Cameras Ahead; The Risks of Privatizing Traffic Law Enforcement and How to Protect the Public finds that approximately half of states have enabled the use of automated traffic law enforcement. Municipalities in these states contract with private companies to provide cameras and issue citations to traffic violators.

Citizens have often objected to privatized forms of traffic enforcement and many municipalities have found themselves in legal trouble when they attempt to change or update these contracts. Traffic engineering alternatives, such as lengthening yellow lights, are often the best way to reduce injuries from red-light running.

However, those solutions too often get ignored because contractors and sometimes municipalities are more focused on increasing revenue from tickets. “Caution: Red Light Cameras Ahead raises critical warnings about revenue priorities overtaking safety concerns. This report is a must-read for city administrators in municipalities considering the addition of red light cameras, for authorities in communities that already have ticket cameras, and for motorists who are subjected to the privatized, for-profit automated traffic enforcement scheme known as red light cameras,” said Gary Biller, Executive Director of the National Motorists Association.

In Ohio, red-light cameras have been a contentious topic, with voters banning traffic cameras in Heath, Chillicothe and Cincinnati, paving the way for other communities to try to organize their own ballot initiatives. Columbus City Council has approved more red light cameras to be installed throughout the city, with the latest camera set to “go live” at 12:01 am October 27th, 2011, issuing citations to motorists caught running the red light at Olentangy River Road at Henderson Road.

State Representative Courtney Combs, R- Hamilton, introduced legislation in 2009 that would prohibit the use of red light cameras by Ohio State Highway Patrol, counties and townships. According to Representative Combs, “red light cameras are a money machine for political subdivisions to penalize their own citizens.” The report recommends stronger guidelines to ensure that automated traffic enforcement programs must focus on improving road safety, rather than ticket revenue.

Deals between local governments and traffic camera vendors should:

* Put public safety first in decisions regarding enforcement of traffic laws – this includes evaluating privatized law enforcement camera systems against alternative options without regard to potential revenues. * Ensure that contract language is free from potential conflicts of interest.


* Avoid direct or indirect incentives for vendors that are based on the volume of tickets or fines.


* Retain public control over traffic policy and engineering decisions, including cancelling contracts if the public is dissatisfied.

* Ensure that the process of contracting with vendors is completely open, with ample opportunity for public participation and each ticket listing where to find online data about automated ticketing for each intersection.

“We are lucky that Ohio hasn’t yet seen the controversy and lawsuits over red-light cameras found in states like California, Florida, Missouri, Texas, and Washington. Looking at the growth of this industry around the country and all across our state, we want to learn from problems elsewhere to prevent them in Ohio,” said Thomas.

For more information, read report here.

Four local teens qualify for Olympic trials

Published: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 @ 3:12 AM
Updated: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 @ 3:12 AM

InfoSource--Dayton Daily News

Patrick Mulcare (Springboro) and Cliff Goertemiller (Oakwood) set Ohio records and joined Dayton Raiders teammates Brett Mackenzie (Tipp City) and Colin Kanzari (Beavercreek) in qualifying for next year’s U.S. Olympic Trials during last week’s Junior National Championships at Stanford University.

Mulcare and Goertemiller both set their records in the 15-16 boys division. Mulcare was timed in 4 minutes, 26.30 seconds for the 400 intermediate medley. He placed eighth.  Goertemiller was timed in 15:44.69 to reset the state mark in the 1,500 free. He placed sixth.

Their efforts count as state records because they are registered as Ohio swimmers.

Also qualifying for the Trials at Omaha, Neb., were Mackenzie (4:30.24 in the 400 IM, 19th) and Kanzari (2:20.68 in the 200 breaststroke, 16th).

Other Raiders to participate in the National Championships were Jack Pohlmann (Beavercreek), Josh Quallen (Wilmington), Brock Turner (Oakwood), Alex Osterhage (Centerville) and Henrick Pohlmann (Beavercreek).