September 17, 2013
Chamber releases election positions, City Council scorecard
The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber today released its City Council Candidate Scorecard and announced support for both Hamilton County tax levy renewals supporting the Cincinnati Zoo and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.
"The Cincinnati Zoo and Public Library are two valuable assets that support the region's economy. Tax levy funds directed to the Zoo generate $143 million in economic activity and every dollar invested in the Library returns $3.81. Given the positive impact of these levies while not increasing taxes on the business community, the Chamber encourages the electorate to vote yes," said Jason Kershner, Interim Managing Director of the Chamber's Government Affairs division.
The Chamber also called for pension reform in the City of Cincinnati, noting that the current system is broken. They also urge City Council to take immediate action in lieu of the proposed charter amendment.
The Chamber's positions on the November 5 ballot issues were determined after thorough analysis, discussions with Chamber membership, and input from the Chamber's Government Affairs Council, a volunteer committee of local business leaders representing the Chamber's diverse membership, and by the Chamber's Board of Directors.
An overview of the positions:
SUPPORT Hamilton County Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden Tax Levy: A 5-year tax levy renewal of 0.46 mills to raise approximately $6.5 million a year and cost the owner of $100,000 in property $10.60 annually (current cost is $10.60). Levy funds account for 23% of the Zoo's annual operating expense and can only be used for animal care and health, horticulture and maintenance and repair. The Chamber recommends a YES vote as the levy funds part of a critical economic asset in our region while not increasing taxes on the business community.
SUPPORT Hamilton County Public Library Tax Levy: A 10-year tax levy renewal of 1 mill to raise approximately $18.1 million a year and cost the owner of $100,000 in property $30.15 annually (current cost is $30.15). Levy funds account for 33% of the Library's entire budget and funds operating expenses, cost of meeting demand and maintaining library facilities. The Chamber recommends a YES vote given the significant impact the Library has on the economic vitality of our region and the fact the levy is a renewal and not an increase. In an effort to increase the transparency of tax payers' dollars, the Chamber encourages the Library to participate in an outside review of its finances, such as through the Hamilton County Tax Levy Review Committee process.
City of Cincinnati Pension Charter Amendment: The Cincinnati pension system is underfunded by $862M. This deficit makes it difficult to continue to cultivate a strong business community, and is a liability that we can't afford. However, the proposed charter amendment is not the best solution. There are too many unanswered questions surrounding the amendment including increased costs to the City and concerns regarding its legality. Therefore, City Council and the Mayor should act before the election to make meaningful and responsible pension reforms.
An overview of the scorecard:
Cincinnati City Council Scorecard: Candidates were considered based on how closely their positions were aligned with business interests in five key areas: pro-business tax policies, fiscal responsibility, competitive labor policies, responsible government, and strong economic development investments. Each City Council Candidate answered a questionnaire and sat before the Chamber's City Council Candidate Review Taskforce for a 30-minute interview. The questionnaire and interview responses were scored by members of the Taskforce on a scale of 0-5 points in each category for both the questionnaire and interview, for a total possible point total of 50.
"The stakes could not be higher for Cincinnati's business community, given the new four-year Council terms. The scorecard identifies which candidates will best represent the business community on City Council in advancing pro-business policies," said Kershner.
Download the City Council Candidate Scorecard