Representing One Side of the Labor Market

November 24, 2015

Mr. Tony Iriti – Economic Development Director for the Hancock County Alliance –  made a request for local government’s help to offset a local “Worker Shortage”.   I found this interesting on many levels.

I understand many in business feel that if government would only get out of way the economy would thrive.  In this case at least, Mr. Iriti is asking for a government solution and government funds to resolve a market problem.

This brings me to the function of a market.  Mr. Iriti seems to be representing only one side on the market.  Mr. Iriti fails to understand or acknowledge that when it is harder for companies to find workers that means on the other side of the equation workers are finding jobs more easily.

Whenever a business makes the statement that it is unable to find workers, in my mind , I always add the phrase “at the wages, benefits and worker conditions that I am providing.”

As a labor market  tightens, workers have more choice where to sell their labor. If the market forces business to raise wages and benefits to attract a workforce than this is a good thing.  Maybe the market is finally addressing the gross income inequality that this nation is facing.

As wages for low income workers rise they will become less dependent on government programs; like food stamps.  That is good for the whole community.

Our ultimate goal in managing our local economy should not be growth; it should be promoting broad-base middle-class prosperity.

If a business is having issues finding workers then they need to look at what they are offering in the market place.  To business I say; get out there and compete.  Have faith in the market, let the market work.


Ohio’s Issue 3: Time to End the War on Pot

October 30, 2015

The very definition of fairness is to treat like things in a like manner.   Yet many of our local politicians and the Courier Editorial Board would lump marijuana together with heroin; even as every objective standard would say that marijuana is far more like alcohol.

Simply take every objection to legalizing marijuana and replace the word alcohol and you will see that it is obvious that the opponents of issue 3 favor prohibition.

Prohibition of alcohol did not work.  Prohibition of marijuana is not working and will not work.  The cost of enforcement to the tax payer, the cost to our economy by locking up young people who should be starting their working life as productive members of society, is too high.

You can make a strong case that marijuana is less costly to society and less harmful to individuals than alcohol.  Yet alcohol is perfectly legal and can be purchased at numerous locations throughout our city. The State of Ohio holds a monopoly on the sale of hard alcohol.  We promote and even celebrate the consumption of alcohol while we wage a pointless and costly war on marijuana.

Hypocrisy and bias of our laws regarding the use alcohol and marijuana is not lost on millions of Ohioans.  It is symptomatic of an elite who have completely lost touch with the realities of day to day life.  They have put their personal bias for their drug of choice over the choice of their constituents.  They are so committed to this bias, devoid of any rational justification, that they are willing to arrest and imprison thousands of their own constituents.

Issue 3 may not be the perfect answer, but don’t be fooled by our State Rep. Sprague and State Sen. Hite; they will never support the legalization of marijuana.  Issue 3 is our best hope to bring fairness to our criminal justice system.

This issue is about personal freedom and smaller, less intrusive government.

This pointless and costly war has gone on too long.

You can bring it to an end. I urge you to vote no on issue 2 and yes for issue 3.


Findlay and Hancock County Government Squanders Eighty Thousand Dollar

September 10, 2013

Despite their conservative rhetoric and pledges to be good stewards of public money, our local government has completely wasted eighty thousand dollars.  By using public grant money to tear down a Main St. building on behalf of an owner, Taurus Capital Management, who should have been held accountable for the condition of their property, the Hancock County Commissioners have allowed the Findlay City Government an easy out.

Over the course of years, the Mayor, the Findlay Law Director and City Council through incompetence, laziness or lack of intestinal fortitude have failed to hold Taurus Capital management accountable for the condition of their building.  By using the Moving Ohio Grant money for this purpose, the citizens of Hancock County have incurred $80,000 opportunity costs.  As many as eight residential properties, for which there is no owner to hold accountable, could have been cleared up in neighborhoods across Hancock County.

I personally called each County Commissioner, the final authority on the application of this grant, to express my concerns.  I had a face-to-face meeting with Commissioner Robertson who explained to me that the city had the means to hold Taurus Capital Management accountable but because the City Administration had moved forward with an agreement with Taurus Capital Management, that avenue was no longer available.

I will leave it to Commissioner Robertson to fill in the details of why the Commissioners agreed to let this misuse of public money occur.  But if you live in a neighborhood affected by an abandoned property, you deserve a full explanation from each elected official in Hancock and Findlay city government as to why a commercial property owner benefits while you suffer.

Also see Editorial in the Findlay Courier: http://www.thecourier.com/opinion/editoral/2013/Sep/04/ar_ed_090413.asp?d=090413,2013,Sep,04&c=e_0


Mayor Mihalik: Show Us The Numbers

April 19, 2013

City of Findlay Says Findlay Fire Department EMS Service Not Cost Effective

The events in Boston and West, Texas remind us that emergency services are critical to the safety and security of our City.  While the City of Findlay can count on support from outside of our community, when that call comes in and the clock starts ticking, the protection of lives and property will depend on the resource that the City of Findlay provides.

We must look for efficiencies to provide the best service at the lowest possible cost.  One idea that has been talked about is a plan that would allow the Findlay Fire Department to take over EMS services.  It would seem that some duplication of effort could be eliminated and efficiencies gained if the FFD would provide EMS services to our community.

I called two of our city council member to see if any thought was being given to this idea.  It was suggested that I call the Service/Safety Director Paul Schmelzer.  In my conversation with Mr. Schmelzer I asked if there had been any analysis on the idea of allowing the FFD to handle EMS calls.  I was informed by Mr. Schmelzer that despite the fact that a private company is able to provide EMS services and despite the fact that the Ohio Performance Audit has shown that Findlay is outside the norm by outsourcing EMS, it would cost Findlay in the neighborhood of one million dollars per year above what could be collected from insurance billing to provide EMS services.

When I pressed Mr. Schmelzer on the details, I was not convinced that thorough analysis had been performed.  Mr. Schmelzer assured me that he could stand by his number.  When I ask Mr. Schmelzer to make his analysis public, I did not get a clear answer to that request.  A call to Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik was not returned.

With an election just around the corner, I would again ask the administration to make public their reasoning and numbers in regard to their decision not to transition EMS service to the Findlay Fire Department.  I feel that Findlay could benefit from open debate of this important issue.


Lydia Leads, Epic Fail 2, The Campaign Pledge

November 16, 2012

The Courier Editorial Board has already addressed the long list of failures of the Mayor and Findlay City Council in their effort to make permanent the increase in the city income tax.  But the Courier did not mention the Mayor Mihalik’s biggest failure, the campaign pledge during her race for Mayor that the City of Findlay did not need to make the temporary ¼% income tax increase permanent.

The Courier was dead wrong when they wrote “Most people will accept her about-face”.  The Courier can apologize all they want for the Mayor’s flawed judgment.  Politicians need to be held accountable for the promises they make in “the heat of a campaign”.  It seems clear that Mayor Mihalik’s campaign pledge casted a long shadow over the effort to pass the income tax renewal.  The Mayor’s campaign pledge set up unrealistic expectations in the minds of her voters, it diminished her credibility once she did her homework and faced the reality of Findlay’s fiscal problems.

Mayor Mihalik was the only candidate for mayor to promise not to seek a renewal of the income tax.  All of the other candidates looked at the same facts and came to this same conclusion; the tax increase was necessary, not an easy thing to say for anyone running for office.  Was the Mayor’s campaign position based purely on ideology, was it her ego that drove her to believe she could simply outsmart the problem or was she simply unable or unwilling to back off a campaign pledge that give her an advantage in her run for the mayor’s office?

Whatever the reason, Mayor Mihalik’s failed judgment has done real damage to the City of Findlay.  So now Mayor Mihalik needs to put forward a plan to fix it.  Time for Lydia to lead!

See Findlay Courier Editorial “Defeated” here: http://www.thecourier.com/opinion/editoral/2012/Nov/08/ar_ed_110812.asp?d=110812,2012,Nov,08&c=e_0

See Findlay Courier Editorial “About Face” here: http://www.thecourier.com/opinion/editoral/2012/Jul/05/ar_ed_070512.asp?d=070512,2012,Jul,05&c=e_0


Lydia Leads, Epic Fail, City of Findlay Income Tax

November 8, 2012

The Editorial Broad of the Findlay Courier got it one hundred percent right.  Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik’s campaign for the city income tax was a disaster.

Read the editorial here: www.thecourier.com/opinion/editoral/2012/Nov/08/ar_ed_110812.asp?d=110812,2012,Nov,08&c=e_0


Findlay Performance Audit: Be the First to Read it Here

October 23, 2012

Be the first to read the completed City of Findlay 2012 Performance Audit.

City_of_Findlay_12_Performance_Hancock


Findlay’s Income Tax: Unsustainable and Anti-growth

October 16, 2012

Demographics, the Decline of the Middle Class and the Wage (Income) Tax

In the run up to the November election for issue #3, the City of Findlay’s request to make the quarter percent temporary income tax permanent (for a total rate of 1.25%) has been hotly contested.  The debate over the tax renewal largely revolved around the question of whether Findlay has a spending problem or a revenue problem.  After a two hour meeting with the City of Findlay Auditor Jim Staschiak II, I discovered that the City of Findlay has a demographic problem.  This demographic problem could be systemic and long term.

In an effort to explain Findlay’s financial position, Mr. Stashciak produced a graph he named “What’s the Employment Trend?” that illustrates that the number of employed individuals in Hancock County dipped in 1999 and has remained flat ever since, while total population continued a slow but steady rise.

Our population is aging, which is not really big news.  But, when you add in other demographic and economic factors and you understand how the City Income Tax really works, we may find that the City Income Tax cannot sustain the City of Findlay’s operations or capital improvements.

Let’s start with the City Income Tax.  First, the City income Tax is really a wage tax.  The income tax does not tax investment income, pensions or social security income.  And while the city income tax does tax businesses, the revenue that the City of Findlay receives from businesses is just a small percentage of revenue collected from the income tax.  This disparity between what businesses pay and wage earners pay means that workers, in effect, pay the city tax for the services they use and for the businesses where they work.

The second thing we need to know is that with the elimination of other taxes like the tangible property tax and the estate tax and the cut backs in state revenue sharing, the city wage tax has become the primary source of city financing.

So, we already know that our population is aging which means that fewer people are directly supporting the finances of the city.  But a key number that I do not have is the per capita wage tax receipts.

With fewer workers supporting a larger population we are already starting in a hole.  But what if those workers are, on average, making less money?  Given the transition we have seen in Findlay of manufacturing jobs to the service industries and knowing that at least one major manufacturer in Findlay has a two-tier wage system, average wages could very well be in decline.  This combination of aging population and a workforce with a declining income or income that is not keeping up with inflation could spell real trouble for the City of Findlay.

If my hypothesis is right, the per capita wage tax receipts are in fact declining, that would mean the City of Findlay will be in a constant battle to match revenues with services.  It would also mean the traditional way of fixing a city’s flagging finances through growth could, in fact, make matters worse.

If we add businesses or build out subdivisions in Findlay that attract residents and workers that earn less and therefore pay less than our current per capita tax receipts, we would only be dragging down the average, making it harder for the City of Findlay to maintain its current level of services and provide service to support the growth.

We need to put some real math behind this issue.  We may find that the current tax base for the City of Findlay (and other cities in Ohio) that relies on a wage tax is unsustainable and anti-growth.

To find the graph referred to above and other information about the City of Findlay’s finances see the Auditor’s webpage: http://www.ci.findlay.oh.us/?id=57


Mayor Mihalik Responses to Fire Station Concerns Raised by Citizens for Findlay

October 10, 2012

Editor’s Note: Below is the text of a mass e-mail send out by Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik under the title Lydia’s Letters  (lydialetter@findlayohio.com).

Did you know…?

Findlay Fire Department

In a continuing effort to ensure that The City of Findlay is providing the citizens the most cost effective and efficient form of fire protection, we are currently evaluating the risks that our community faces as well as what resources we have available to respond to those risks.  Station placement, personnel, risk location, new ISO standards and apparatus capabilities will be matched to the risks this community faces.  Once the evaluation is completed and we are able to analyze the data relative to our available budget dollars we will make a determination as to the future of Findlay Fire Department operations. 

Fire Station #4 has been mentioned in the Town Hall meeting.  Its proximity to risk levels are being examined.  At one point in time significant planned growth on the East side of town drove the need to construct an additional station.  Much of the planned growth has not taken place.  It is only logical that we examine the need for a continued operation at this location.

I have been clear that we are committed to examining all of our operations and this happens to be an example of one of the evaluations we are currently conducting.

I am proud of the work that our Fire Department carries out every day.  They are always there when we need them.  Through these potential efficiencies I am confident that we will be better positioned to respond to our risks. It is my goal is ensure that our families are kept safe and that we have adequate emergency response capabilities.

As always, please feel free to contact me directly if you have any additional questions.

Sincerely,

Signed Lydia Mihalik


Citizens for Findlay Has E-mail Showing Findlay Will Close One Fire Station With or Without the Tax Passing

October 10, 2012

Editor’s Note: The below information was posted to the comments field of the Findlay Democrat in response to the post “Hancock County Democrats Support the City of Findlay Income Tax Renewal” The Findlay Democrat cannot verify the source of these comments.  I received e-mail from Chief Lonyo confirming he did author the e-mail below.  I followed up with a phone call. Chief Lonyo stressed that the key factor is manpower of the FFD, not the number of stations.  Chief also stated that the possibility of closing fire station #4 was raised at the Town Hall last month.  For the record, the Findlay Democrat is supporting the passage of the City of Findlay tax renewal.

Update: the original post incorrectly reported the name of Citizens for Findlay …as Friends of Findlay

Supporters,

Mayor Mihalik, and her handlers, have continued to mislead the public on her 2013 budget over the past few weeks.

Mayor Mihalik consistently uses the closing of the Route 236 fire station as a scare tactic if the tax does not pass. To emphasize this false narrative, literature being distributed by the Mayor’s campaign to pass the 25% permanent tax increase states that if the tax is passed then current staffing levels for safety services will be “retained” at current levels.

In an email obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request (below), Findlay Fire Chief Tom Lonyo informed department members that staffing will be reduced to 3 fire stations regardless of the passage of Issue 3.

Essentially, the Federal Government is advising Findlay to reduce the Fire Department to three fire stations (60 firefighters), and is also demanding this as a condition to extend the SAFER Grant. This is ironic, considering we hired nine firefighters over the past year: another example of Chief Lonyo’s Mismanagement.

Mayor Mihalik’s misleading of the public has become habitual; Citizens for Findlay is committed to giving taxpayers the facts the Mayor, and her handlers, have continuously failed to provide. When this alliance of concerned taxpayers came together and formed Citizens for Findlay, we were determined to reveal the truth. When Citizens for Findlay wasn’t getting the truth voluntarily from our elected officials, or investigative reporting of data by local news media, we decided to find the truth on our own.

It is one thing to have Citizens for Findlay bring awareness to our bloated government, but is another when the Federal Government criticizes Findlay’s inefficiencies and overspending.

Please share the internal email from Chief Lonyo, and Citizens for Findlay fact sheet (which can be viewed here), within your network. Together we can ensure local fiscal responsibility.

We apologize for Chief Lonyo’s pontification in advance….

– Citizens for Findlay

Begin forwarded message:

From: “Tom Lonyo”
Subject: The Future of FFD
Date: September 18, 2012 10:22:28 AM EDT
To: fire@ci.findlay.oh.us; “FFD Training” ;
Reply-To: tlonyo@findlayohio.com

All

As most of you are aware, the administration has laid out the “worst-case scenario” cuts which will occur if the tax does not pass. While I hope that does not happen, I want to lay out our situation as a fire department if the tax passes. First and foremost, I am working on identifying the risks this community faces on an annual basis. This assessment is critical to the department, because ISO will be changing the ways in which they evaluate communities through the FSRS. This means that for the first time since 1980 ISO is changing the way it evaluates fire department capabilities. Many of these changes are very good and based off of NFPA. For example, organization and deployment of the fire department, Fire Officer qualifications, Automotive Apparatus and Emergency Vehicle Operator standards will be used to rate the organization.

These changes will drive the future of this fire department. ISO is coming out and for the first time stating that geographical location of a fire station will not be the sole consideration in the deployment of an organization. Department’s may elect to use this old way of thinking if they so choose. We however will utilize a new tool in the ISO and that is striving to meet NFPA 1710 Standard for Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations and Special Operations. To sum this standard up, dispatch has 15 seconds to pick up the emergency call, 60 seconds to gather enough information to start a response, 60 seconds for the fire department to receive the call and sign on that they are enroute and finally 4 minutes for the primary engine to get on scene. This is what is meant by a performance measure. Can our personnel (if focused) receive a call, get on the truck in a timely fashion and get on scene to in time to satisfy 1710 90 % of the time?

Why is this important? Because the question from the public now becomes…. We know what the cuts are? What will you do to prevent this from happening in a few years if I vote yes? The answer is simple… We are going to evaluate the risk to the community and focus our resources on that risk. Station placement, personnel and so forth will be matched to the risks this community faces. A GIS map is being developed which identifies the high, medium and low hazard properties (as defined by NFPA). This information will be over-laid with annual fire run responses going back five years. Once the map is completed we will analyze the deployment of our stations, apparatus and staff.

It is my belief, that when you factor in the changes to ISO which also include: Emergency Vehicle Operator, Fire Officer, Community Risk Reduction, Fire Apparatus and Equipment and all other considerations it is likely we will transition into a three station fire department and more importantly and performance based fire department. Currently, I do not have enough clean data to determine if Station 3 or 4 are properly placed to meet NFPA 1710 in a three station system. Why no clean data? Several reasons. We have never taken serious the need to meet the standard mentioned previously for response. Dispatch time are subjective, the primary responding engine does not always get radio time to answer first and meet that 60 second rule, some officers or even oic’s wait until they are half way to the run to remember to sign on or forget to announce when they are on scene immediately. The list is long and we will work to correct these time variances in the near future so we can begin to evaluate if our facilities meet the need(s) of the risks identified.

Other changes coming to the ISO are in the form of Pre-Plans. We will identify the high hazard properties and this will become our Pre-plan list. These buildings must be “reviewed” annually. Meaning we will try and physically visit them each year or we will issue a copy of them for review by the crews. The days of ISO requiring every building be inspected twice a year will be a thing of the past. We will utilize the High Hazard list to train and properly respond to incidents.

The first SAFER grant expires in late May/early June of 2013. The second SAFER grant was specifically written to transition us into a fire department of 60 full time firefighters. Specific language in the second grant stated that the department would not hiring additional personnel when someone retires or quits. The intent of the second grant is to transitions us from four stations to three. SAFER officials actually called within a week of my submission to verify that this was the intent of the grant. It was stressed to them an noted, that the goal of this second grant request was to keep our current employees working and eventually end our dependency on federal grants. This will shave approximately one million dollars off our budget and alleviate the need to continually address personnel cuts on an annual basis if we can make the transition into a compliment of 60 FF’s.

In order for these events to occur, the tax must first pass. If the tax passes, the SAFER grant will be used as a bridge to slowly roll down the hill to a three station department. IF the tax fails, we simply get there by jumping off a cliff. So, this is the situation we are facing. There is a lot of work that needs to be done to begin the planning and implementation of our goals. I hope this gives you a little insight into where we are, where we need to go and what means we will use to get there!

I am sure there are questions, and I will be speaking with the Battalion Chiefs to set up meetings where I can discuss any concerns you may have!

Be Safe!

Thomas R. Lonyo

Thomas R. Lonyo
Fire Chief
Findlay Fire Department
720 South Main Street
Findlay, OH 45840
Phone 419-424-7129


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