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


Undue Influence by Findlay Mayor on City’s Audit

September 8, 2012

Findlay Mayor, Lydia Mihalik, explained in an open letter to the residents of Findlay how her administration had an influence on the audit being performed on city operations by the Ohio State Auditor’s office.

The Mayor wrote, in part: “The State Auditor’s Report has not been finalized at this point. When taking office my administration reviewed the information that was being considered for the final report. After this review, we had questions relative to what a “peer” actually was, and then requested that Auditor Yost’s office re-evaluate their assessment.” (See the full text of the letter below.)

The question is, were the changes in the audit procedure reasonable or did the city administration exert undue influence on the audit process, thereby invalidating the independent nature of the audit.  The answer is, without 100% transparency, the public will never know.

What information did the Findlay City Administration review that caused such consternation that they felt the need to seek relief?  The public has the right to see, in detail, all of the information that passed between that audit team and the city administration.  Any documents, email exchanges, the nature and details of any conversations, should be made public immediately.  Also the original findings based on the original methodology of the audit should be made public with the final report.

Mayor Mihalik would have us believe that this kind of give and take between an audit team and the organization being audited is common place.  I find this to be a highly dubious assertion.  Regardless, the only way to maintain the integrity of this audit process is for the administration to provide detailed information, now rather than later, on what they found to be objectionable about the original audit procedure and for the public to have full knowledge of how the administration changed the audit methodology and how those changes influenced the outcome of the audit.

To the extent that the Mayor has influence over that audit, it would be in her and everyone’s best interest if the final report from the State Auditor’s office is released well in advance of the November election.

Complete text of Mayor Mihalik’s open letter:

Findlay Resident,There have been numerous questions and comments placed in several local publications regarding the ¼% income tax renewal and the way that we as a city conduct business. I fully expect that other opinions will be offered over the next 60 days, and my administration will do its best to respond and keep the public accurately informed. While I believe it is correct that little has been done to prepare for this situation, I disagree that we aren’t making strides towards a leaner and more productive government for our taxpayers. Here are the answers to a few questions that have been posed:The State Auditor’s Report has not been finalized at this point. When taking office my administration reviewed the information that was being considered for the final report. After this review, we had questions relative to what a “peer” actually was, and then requested that Auditor Yost’s office  re-evaluate their assessment. We did what any other business owner would do and requested a fair assessment. Not asking for additional work to be done in this audit is unfair to the process and would not yield productive ideas on how to reduce the size of our government. Instead, we feel that this information will be valuable and will be a true representation of our needs. This report is not completed and, therefore, has not been shared with the public or other elected officials.Auditor Staschiak reported at the July 24, 2012, mid-year budget review that the City of Findlay’s employee count has decreased by 3 full time positions since my administration took office 9 months ago. We have instituted more seasonal and part time employees to reduce the amount of wages and overall burden on the general fund. My administration will continue to examine potential staffing efficiencies and what may be available through attrition.I have seen many comments in regards to the Hochstettler building that was purchased for the potential home of the Health Department. As it has been reported, we have had productive conversations with members of the District Advisory Council on a county wide health district. There are still many logistical aspects of the plan that need to be worked out. That being said, it would be a waste of taxpayer dollars to add additional money to update this facility, when we are unsure exactly where the Health Department will be located.It is clear that potential shared services must be evaluated to reduce costs and increase efficiencies in some cases. That is why we have collaborated through conversations with County and Township officials alike. The work with the District Advisory Council on a potential county wide health district is just one opportunity. Additionally, we have evaluated a potential consolidation of the City’s emergency notification system. Officials from both the City and County have met several times to evaluate the needs and resolve any concerns that may be present. Consolidating services is not something that can be completed overnight, and we will continue to look at opportunities in the future. Rest assured, we will continue evaluating potential shared services for all sectors of our local government.

In these challenging economic times, all city departments have been required to cut their respective budgets in light of our current financial situation. It is also apparent that we have not been growing other departments at the expense of others. Our capital needs are a priority but, as I have said many times, we do not have a clear plan for our capital needs. Developing such a plan will allow us to accurately assess these types of projects, which was discussed at length in nearly every meeting we attend. I believe that having an ad hoc committee dedicated to a solution for this problem will be beneficial for our entire community.

It should go without saying that my administration is not able to control every aspect of the past. We can, however, take responsibility for the situation that we are in and work together to fix it. If you have questions about how we operate or where we are headed, please contact my office at 419-424-7137 Monday- Friday 8:00am-5:00pm, or send me an email at mayor@findlayohio.com . I look forward to continuously working with members of our community as we seek to reform our local government to be efficient and effective for our residents.

Sincerely,

 

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The City Income Tax and Trust Fund Babies

September 7, 2012

What Every City Councilperson (and everyone else) should know about the City Income Tax.

A few weeks ago Charles W. Weasel, a local Attorney, wrote a letter to Findlay City Council suggesting a fix to the City of Findlay’s budget crisis.  A crisis largely caused by the decrease in State funding.  His idea; change state law to permit the city income tax to include taxing interest and dividend income as well as wages.  As Mr. Weasel wrote “Currently only the “working man” pays the Findlay City Income Tax.  Wealthy retirees and “Trust Fund Babies” are given a free ride at the expense of the wage earner.”

Of all the inequities built into the city income tax (look for future posts on the other inequities) the fact that wages are almost exclusively taxed, while interest, dividend and capital gains income are not, seems blatantly unfair.  A very wealthy person whose income comes solely from inherited investments could live their whole life in Findlay and never pay a dime in city income tax.  Findlay City Councilperson Anne Spence was so impressed with the idea that she promised to pass it on to Ohio State Senator Cliff Hite-R and Ohio State Rep. Robert Sprague-R, quoting chapter and verse of the Ohio Revised Code Section that would require changes to accommodate adjusting the City Income Tax.

Of course this proposed change to state law is NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN and Miss Spence should probably know that.  There are two reasons that the GOP controlled Ohio State government is never going to allow cities to tax investment income.  The first reason is a matter of mechanics.  Collecting and administering a flat income tax on wages is relatively easy.  Adding investment income to the mix would require every city to set up its own version of the IRS.

But, Mr. Weasel stumbled on the real reason why Gov. Kasich, Senator Hite and Rep Sprague are playing this taxation shell game in the first place.  Mr. Weasel and Miss Spence, the reason your city income tax is going up is because the city income tax does not tax investment income.  The GOP plan from the beginning is to shift the totality of municipalities and state taxes from investment income, (the rich) to wages (Ohio’s working families).  On top of that, they are cutting progressive taxes like the estate tax and the state income tax only to force increases in city taxes that are a flat rate tax.  So, the lowest paid worker pays the same rate as the best paid wage earner in the city.

If Miss Spence was paying attention to her Republican playbook she would know that cutting taxes on the wealthy and their investment income, not raising their taxes, is fundamental to the GOP’s game plan.


Cronyism in Findlay City Government

November 2, 2011

In Findlay city council chambers last night (Nov. 1, 2011), Mr. Jaffee and Mr. Kostyo exposed the cronyism and unprofessionalism at work in our city government.

It was clear, by the evidence presented by Mr. Jaffe and Mr. Kostyo, that City Council had not done their homework in setting the salaries for the city office holder. It is also clear that the City Law Director has been grossly overpaid for many years and that City Council intended to continue that “tradition”.

I found Councilman Ward’s assertion that the interest in the City Law Director’s salaries was motivated by the “election” telling and galling, Mr. Ward, that is why we have elections, to hold our elected officials accountable. It seems that Mr. Ward and others on City Council are not comfortable having their decision-making processes questioned by the public or the democratic process.

On another subject, when a Council member asked the City Law Director how the negotiations with the county on funding flood studies are moving forward, Mr. Hackenberg replied that the contract was sent over to the county three weeks ago and that nothing had been heard, which begs the question of why Mr. Hackenberg could not have picked up the phone and called somebody at the county. It seems that once again, the communication between the city and county has broken down on the single most important issue facing our community.

Last night’s City Council meeting was a case study on how the good old boy network and one party rule is failing the citizens of Findlay and Hancock County.

See Article in the Findlay Courier: http://www.thecourier.com/Issues/2011/Nov/02/ar_news_110211_story1.asp?d=110211_story1,2011,Nov,02&c=n#__comments


Jeff Detmer for City Council in the 2nd Ward Findlay Ohio

September 16, 2011

As the November election draws nearer, we all know how important this election is for the future of Findlay and the State of Ohio. As we move forward our Democratic beliefs and principles, I hope I can count on your support.

Once again I am running for Findlay City Council in the 2nd ward. With your help and a strong turnout of voters, I feel that we have a real chance to make a difference in Findlay.

The City of Findlay has a bright future, but only if city government is prepared and determined to meet the challenges that face our City. I intend to hold the current Findlay establishment accountable.

The City of Findlay lacks any real leadership. Our elected officials have proven, time and time again, their willingness to sit back and wait for others (or hire others at city expense) to address the critical issues facing our community.

We can do better! I need your help!

How can you help?

1) Follow my campaign and share my ideas with your friends and family!

See my blog at Findlaydem.com

Follow my twitter account @jeffdets

Friend me on Facebook

2) Attend campaign events.

3) Volunteer your time to help out with my campaign.

4) Lastly, make a small contribution to my campaign.

Help me, help you to hold the City of Findlay’s elected officials accountable and build strong leadership in Findlay that can meet the challenges facing our great City!!

Please feel free to contact me at any time with any questions or comments!!

Jeff Detmer
Candidate for Findlay City Council 2nd Ward
Cell/Text: 419-306-9884
jeffdets@hotmail.com


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