Tag Archives: Issue 10

Xenia Employee Conundrum and Issue 9

By Daniel Downs

City management claims the proposed income tax levy (Issue 9) will allow them to rehire six police and fire employees. The proposed levy also will be used for streets and other capital improvement projects. When looking at the 2009 State Audit Report, the employment data does not match the levy rhetoric.

Consider the following:

In 2009, the City of Xenia reported having 297 employees. The number of total city employees for 2007 was 290. That means the city had more not less employees last year than the past two years. If city officials laid off 6 police and fire employees, how can there more employees than in 2008?

The employment conundrum only gets more interesting.

In the same financial report for 2009, the total number of full time equivalent employees numbered 216.5, but in 2008 the total was 227.5 and 227.25 for 2007.

I have heard of “Two and a Half Men,” but a quarter!

The difference between the employment figures above shows the city actually laid off 11 full time employees, none of which adds up to 297 or 290.

By now, you smart readers have figured out that the large differences between 297 and 216.5 employees is probably due to volunteers who are considered employees. If the 60.5 employees are not volunteers, then who the heck are they?

Accounting for the 60.5 volunteers-employees does not solve the entire conundrum. According to the State audited report, Xenia laid off 9 full time and 2 part-time employees plus 2 employees retired. This adds up to 13. City management wants to rehire 6 laid off security personnel. So who were the other 5 employees the city let go?

Let’s look at a summary of changes in city employment for 2009:

– 3 full-time and 1 part-time finance department workers were laid off.
– 2 full-time and 1 part-time employees were added or transferred to the legal    department or court.
– 1 full-time administrator was laid off or transferred elsewhere.
– 2 full-time information technology positions were added and filled.
– 3 full-time police officers were laid off.
– 1 full-time fire fighter also was laid off.
– 7 full-time and 1 part-time street maintenance personnel were laid off.
– 2 full time of street maintenance workers were transfer to a new department    called garage.
– 4 full-time and 1 part-time recreation workers were laid off.
– 1 full-time and 1 part employee were transferred to newly formed positions    under Parks.
– 8 full-time service employees were transferred to (at least on paper) to the    following categories:
– 4 full-time positions were created under development and planning.
– 4 full-time positions transferred to engineering.
– 4 full-time and 1 part-time employees were added (or transferred) to the    water department, and finally,
– 1 full-time sewer worker was laid off–that job stunk anyway.
–  28 total full-time and 3 part-time workers laid off.
+ 17 total full-time and 3 part-time workers added (or transferred).

Out of all the lay-offs, transfers, and new positions, it is difficult to pinpoint who the 5 actually were. We know for certain that the number of police and fire personnel actually laid off were 4 and not six in 2009.

Did you notice only one fire fighter was laid off? Did the Second Street fire station (No. 2) employ only one fire fighter? He must have been one tired professional working 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

Interestingly, closing fire state no.2 and laying one fire fighter did not decrease expenditures of the fire department. Instead of offsetting a $500,000 decrease in tax revenue, expenditures increased $26,000 in 2009.

Just when I was certain the conundrum was resolved, city council sent out a “Vote No on Issue 10” postcard claiming the passage of the 1/2% income tax levy will enable the city to bring 12 laid off public safety officers. Since when did the city lay off 12 fire and police officers? Not last year! It just so happens the city laid off 5 police officers and 2 fire fighters in 2004. Adding those laid off in 2009, the number of laid off safety personnel equals 11.

So what’s 1 lost employee anyway? Maybe he/she fell into the black hole of political rhetoric.

It is true the city had less revenue in 2009, which is actually part of a recurring trend in municipal finance. The 10-year history of the city’s revenue and expenditures shows this trend occurs every 2-3 years. This time around the decreased revenue stream is the result of government bureaucrats in Washington and their fellows in the state house as well as reckless lenders. In the financial report, city management reported a 12% unemployment rate for Xenia. Because of this, it is claimed city tax revenues have decreased. It is true some taxpayers are without jobs; some have moved away; and some small business owners who are still in business remain concerned about the possibility of a double-dip recession. Yet, if the number of tax filers is any indication, employment among residents actually increased in 2009. The number of tax filers increased by 76 among last year. The problem with more individual income tax filers was less income tax revenue. According to the financial report, their contribution to the city’s general revenues was down by $4,400. It is clear the nearly $500,000 decrease in tax revenues was not the result of unemployment. It was the result of both recessionary effects on business and property values.

Once the economy fully recovers, city tax revenue will exceed pre-recession levels. The lost employee might be found and 6-11 new safety personnel hired. That is as long most of the nearly 3,000 new residents remain and new businesses replace those the recession closed.

Because of all these factors, Xenia voters should say NO to the municipal tax levy (Issue 9); NO to the fire and police unions’ ordinance that will force Xenia taxpayers to hire previous or new employees and allow them to increase expenditures (Issue 10); and YES on Issue 11, which will enable the city to hire part-time employees until unemployment is reduced to post-recession levels and the economy is viable once again.

Does Passing Issue 10 Make Any Sense?

By Daniel Downs

Xenia fire and police want us to believe passing their proposed charter amendment (Issue 10) will guarantee the continued safety of Xenia citizens and their property. What it will actually accomplish is force taxpayers to maintain no less than 42 full-time certified fire fighters and 46 full time police officers at all times no matter the cost to the city. City council claims passing Issue 10 will bankrupt the city by 2013.

Bankrupting the city does not make sense.

Issue 10 will also require the city to adhere to a staffing norm of 1.5 fire fighters per 1,000 population and 1.7 police officers per 1,000 population. The latest financial report has Xenia population at 27,314 and the above minimum number of safety personnel reflects this normative formula. However, the current number of police is 69 and fire fighters totals 41 not 46 police and 41 fire fighters.

Why then does Xenia employ 69 police officers rather than 46? The answer is response time and supervisors. Many years ago, city management and council decided they wanted police to respond more quickly to calls. That meant adding more police officers and supervisors per shift to guarantee the results.

Employing more police for quicker responses to calls does make sense.

What does not make any sense is allowing fire fighters to reformulate requirements that will result in more supervisory staff. It appears fire fighters are attempting to set a minimum number of fighters without clearly delineating the requirement for more supervisory and administrative staff to support them. If this is so, they are misleading voters to get what the police have–more personnel. The problem is no one sees the need for more fire fighters. In fact, city officials didn’t see the need for less either. Only 1 fire fighter was laid off, according to the city’s state audited financial report.

Failing to provide for a reduction of safety personnel should Xenia population significantly decrease only makes sense if you are trying to pass a 1/2% income tax levy. It’s the good cop-bad cop routine.

Whether or not this was intended, Issue 10 still lacks provision to reduce safety personnel in case of decrease on population. For example, if Issue 10 passes and Xenia population grows to 30,000, the city will be required by law to hire 4 more certified fire fighters. But, if the recession caused enough people to move away that the population shrunk back to 24,164 as it was in 2008, city could not lay off 5 police and 5 fire fighters.

It does not make sense to employ more safety personnel unless to improve call response times or prevent crime.

A question still needing an answer is how many residents are there now? Put differently, how many residents have moved away since the recession? According to recent U.S. Census Bureau estimates, Xenia population grew to 27,437, which is an increase of over 3,291 since 2007.

Assuming all of the new residents live in family households and average $20,000 of taxable income, the city should have seen an increase of nearly $400,000 in income tax revenue per year. That does not include any additional property tax increases. In actuality, the city reported $555,025 less income tax revenue, which means most of them became unemployed, some of them became unemployed and some other did as well, or census estimates are wrong. In actuality, the number of taxpayers increased by 76 in 2009 but paid $4,468 less income taxes. This suggests that most of the decrease in income tax revenue was the result of significant decline in local business revenue.

It does not make sense for taxpayers either to make up lost revenue for local business or to add more safety personnel when local unemployment rate is 12 percent as reported by city officials.

Issue 10 will also create an unfunded mandate, which is the reason past and present city council members oppose it. It does make any sense to pass a law that will cost taxpayers more money without creating legal means to fund it.

Passing Issue 10 simply does not make any sense, which is a good reason to vote NO on November 2.