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.


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


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