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.