Citizens For A Better Norwood

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Not buying the renewal levy “earmarks” resolution

For the second time in a week, the Enquirer’s Steve Kemme writes today about the earmarks in Resolution B., a companion to Resolution A. (see text of both below), both of which city council passed 2 days ago. Today’s article is entitled “Norwood Streets atop wish list.” For many of our daily readers, as well as regular council watchers, what Kemme reports is not news. This does give us an opportunity, however, to ask the question, does the resolution mean anything?

First, let’s start with the numbers. The 8-mill renewal levy will generate $8,500,000 over five years. With Resolution B., “this Council hereby expresses its intent and desire to allocate” $400,000 for streets, $200,000 for capital improvements, and $100,000 for a rainy day fund. If each of these amounts were set aside annually over the five years, it might mean something. Mr. Kemme has reported in both of his articles that the earmarks are annual, but the language in Resolution B. doesn’t so designate. And since it doesn’t, that amounts to only $80,000 for streets, $40,000 for capital improvements, and $20,000 for the rainy day fund per year, less than 8.2% over the 5-year term of the proposed levy.

Our second bone of contention is that this is not a binding resolution. Council certainly isn‘t pretending that it is, and Assistant Law Director Ted Kiser who wrote it confirmed to us that it‘s not binding. “This Council” is the one expressing its intent to allocate some of the funds, but “this council” will be replaced with a new council in January, 2008, potentially one with a different majority with entirely different intentions on how the levy’s revenues should be allocated if it passes.

As many of us in the community remember, the NCS Board of Education passed a similar resolution for a 3.4-mill building levy Norwood voters passed in 1995. It did not take long for the school board to break their own promise and put an unknown amount of money into the general fund. Some of the building improvements promised to the community never came about, and attempts to reconcile how the money was spent by subsequent school treasurers were fruitless. (Keep that in mind on Election Day.)

In conclusion, we’re not saying we are for or against the 8-mill renewal levy, but we are absolutely against Resolution B, the most meaningless document we’ve ever seen “this council” approve. We’re not buying one of word of it.