By Jerry Mazur
This has been a week filled with misquotes, misunderstandings, and personal attacks. I think the full moon stimulated some strange thinking in a few of the uninformed or misinformed among us.
Recently, in a discussion, I made reference to the number of people needed to work in Van Wert to generate an additional $530,000 of income tax. This is approximately the dollar amount of the State’s government funding that Van Wert received annually from Columbus. This was prior to the dollars being reallocated to the State’s budget seven or so years ago. This government funding (our money) being sent back to us was a major infusion for our General Fund.
To get back to the point of my discussion, I used Federal Mogul as a data point due to the number of people working there who are paying City income tax. My statement was that “it would take about two companies the size of Federal Mogul with approximately the same number of employees to fill the gap that the shortfall in government funding created.” I went on to say, “or maybe one company the size of Eaton.”
My point to all this was, while we are aggressively seeking new businesses and jobs to come to Van Wert, it will take years and all the blessings available to us to see the fruits of our labor. In the interim, we must make the decision to step to the plate and vote yes to the .28 tax increase proposal.
I received a Facebook posting from Mr. or Ms. HTW, also known as misinformed. He or she stated that the Blue Creek Wind Farm was adding about $6,000,000 to the local economy and that the City should forget the 0.28 tax and explore wind farms as a source of revenue.
Well, let me set the record straight. According to the County Auditor’s Office, several schools, some townships, some property owners, and the County government have received payments from wind energy. However, in searching the financial records with City Auditor Martha Balyeat, we find no direct wind energy contributions being made to the City of Van Wert. To that I say, Mr. or Ms. HTW, we’re still looking for our portion of the $6,000,000 you boasted about in your Facebook posting.
If by chance you’re speaking to the guy who signs the checks at Blue Creek Wind Farm, please have him send a check in the amount of $531,000 to Martha Balyeat, Auditor, 515 E. Main St., Van Wert, Ohio 45891, and mark it General Fund Contribution. By the way, we’re going to need this amount year over year. Thank you.
To all reasonable thinkers out there, please don’t hold your breath. I think it’s going to be some time before we see either Mr. or Ms. HTW or Blue Creek Wind Farm coming up with the cash. In the meantime, we must go to the polls and say yes to the modest .28 tax question. Consider this: if you are earning $50,000 dollars a year, you would be asked to pay an additional $2.69 cents per week. If you have no earned income, such as being on retirement, Social Security, or receiving no earned income, you will not be paying additional tax. And yes, I am asking the seniors to get out and vote. It is important to you, your children, and your grandchildren. We must keep City services funded for the good of the order.
With regard to the economic windfall created by the wind farms, we have looked at the hotel/motel tax that is paid to the City. Yes, there has been an increase in these tax dollars. This tax was greatly stimulated by the addition of the new Holiday Inn Express and a modest amount attributed to the wind farm construction crews with overnight stays. On the other hand, construction crews typically rent by the month and are not subject to this tax. Therefore, this is not a great source of economic impact to the City. The crews do spend dollars in our stores and restaurants and do pay sales tax. These taxes go to the County.
As mayor of Van Wert, I have and will continue to maintain a neutral position regarding additional wind farms. It is my opinion that this should be decided by the voters in those districts which will be impacted by them. I would say, however, that I would be concerned if the wind farms were to consume potential housing development areas around the City. I have concerns about setback requirements choking off housing developments. Housing will very much be in demand should we be successful in attracting new companies and jobs to our area. This is a long-term outlook, but my experience tells me that we must have available housing areas in order to make us attractive to interested companies. In addition, if the turbines use up all of the land and create set back situations, we will be unable to provide much needed space to future industry which would directly feed dollars into the City of Van Wert.
To the gentleman who felt wounded because he believed I ‘yelled’ at him; I’d like to clear up a misunderstanding. With all due respect, Sir, if you got the impression that I shouted at you, I apologize. However, your statement that building variances should not be permitted surprised me. In fact, the law provides for a public board for the purpose of reviewing such requests. With your being a former contractor, I would have thought you would have been aware of this process.
Sir, you have every right to ask for and examine any and all public documents. You know that all too well, as I understand you have been researching records for years.
With regard to unemployment in Van Wert, I think you’re a bit out of touch. There are somewhere between 50 and 100 jobs in this City begging for someone to apply for them. Many are viewed as good paying positions (for example, welders, electricians, plumbers, and mechanical equipment maintainers) and the list goes on. Many of these jobs require specialized skills. These skills and job opportunities are made available through our state-of- the-art Vantage Career Center.
In closing, Sir, it is not my nature to look down on or treat people poorly. I am a blue collar worker such as yourself. I have worked my entire lifetime building my personal character and staunch life-long relationships. I have great respect for the people of Van Wert and thank them for allowing me to serve as their mayor.
Early voting has started, so please step up to the plate for the .28 tax increase proposal.