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Newsmakers: August 4, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, November 27 2013, 02:41 PM EST
Newsmakers, Sunday, August 4, 2013
Part One: Hamilton County Tax Levy Review

Recently, the Hamilton County Tax Levy Review Committee submitted mid-term reports to the County Commissioners about the status of three levies.  Their reports covered the Developmental Disabilities Levy, the Cincinnati Museum Center Operating Levy and the Family Services and Treatment Levy.
         
To discuss those reports, which were prepared by sub-committees of three people, I am joined by Tom Cooney, the Chair of the Tax Levy Committee.  Mr. Cooney is a founding partner and the president of Cooney Faulkner & Stevens.
         
The Developmental Disabilities levy was passed in 2009, renewing 3.62 mills and increasing 0.51 mills. the levy delivers direct support for 9000 families.  Since then, the agency has lost the tangible property tax and experienced significant cuts in state funding, even though the services that are offered are mandated by state and federal laws. That has forced the agency to cut their budget steadily, a process that is ongoing including the elimination of 46 positions.

In the case of the Cincinnati Museum Center, the report focuses on the 2009 renewal of a 0.18 mill operating levy. The report focuses on two things…first, financial management, especially the opportunities to increase earned income from admissions, food sales, gift shop, parking, etc.  Second, Museum Center's claim that it needs $163 million in capital funding to repair problems with the building, which is not covered at all by this levy. 

The third levy reviewed is the Family Services and Treatment Levy.  Although most of the programs funded by this levy were once included in the Drake Levy, in 2009 they had to be presented on their own terms for the first time.  Since the passage of the levy, state reductions for local government and the ending of the state portion of the Drake Levy reduced available funds, most of which flow through contracts to Talbert House to provide alternatives to incarceration and provide education and rehabilitation for people with alcohol and drug addiction and mental illnesses associated with criminal behavior.  The subcommittee recommended reconsideration of programs not run by Talbert House, including drug free communities and the off the streets program operated by the Anna Louise Inn. 

Part Two:
Cincinnati Union Coop Initiative

Increasingly American economists and political scientists are writing about the implication of the increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of the top one or two percent, the collapse of the middle class and the loss of jobs that pay a living wage. 
         
I am joined by Kristen Barker, the Executive Director of the Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative.
         
Addressing those issues in the context of the mainstream economy is problematic.  For two centuries, reformers have experimented with worker owned cooperatives as an alternative model.
        
The most successful in the last half century has developed in the Basque district of Spain, and is known as the Mondragon worker owned cooperatives. Today, 200 coops employ 85,000 worker owners, which produce 24 billion in annual sales, making Mondragon the seventh largest corporation in Spain.          

Now, the Mondragon model has been brought to Cincinnati through an agreement in 2009 with the United Steel Workers.  One of the five initiatives of the local co-op is called Our Harvest.

For additional information about Cincinnati Union Coop Initiative check out the website www.cincinnatiunioncoop.org or email infor@cincinnatiunioncoop.org or telephone 513-403-9963.
  

Newsmakers: August 4, 2013


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