Friday, October 26, 2007

The race for Mayor of Fort Wayne

The worst thing about the mayor's race this year is the press has allowed it to COMPLETELY over-shadow the City Council races this year.

The race for Mayor is important; however, so is the race for City Council...

Eight members of our City Council just gave a tax abatement to a McDonalds franchise that breaks several of the Cities policies governing tax abatements:

1. Consider the city ignored its own rules and granted a tax abatement to a company that is creating low paying jobs.
2. I believe the tax abatement process is supposed to be done BEFORE the business is in operation; this abatement was granted to a business already in operation...
3. Consider that the City has conflicting rules in place that Karen Goldner pointed out in an earlier comment that I am copying below:

Several years ago City Council established a policy that allows tax abatements for retail/commercial businesses if they are located in targeted central commercial corridors (such as Calhoun Street, State Street, etc.) The purpose of this policy is to encourage businesses to make investments in our older, central business areas. I support that policy.

City Council also has a policy that businesses must pay an average of 150% of federal minimum wage in order to receive an abatement. I also support that policy.

To my knowledge there had not been a conflict between these 2 policies to date - the retail businesses who have received the abatements are all small enough that the average wage (including the manager, etc.) has met the threshold. However, you can see how the 2 policies could easily conflict, and in this instance they do.

The press did pick this story up and pointed out that the City had just granted its first tax abatement to a fast food restaurant; however, there is more to the story as listed above...

This tax abatement may well cause me NOT to vote for Councilman Shoaff. He is the only incumbent that I was planning to vote for...

After reading the comments on the McDonalds tax abatement on this and many other blogs it is apparent that a majority of people who participate in local blogs are against this tax abatement. The blogs ARE NOT A SCIENTIFIC POLL; however, I would not be surprised if our City Council unanimously (With the exception of Sam Talarico, who was absent) granted a tax abatement that a majority of Fort Wayne citizens would oppose.

They did this a few weeks before the Election.

That should be big news...

I wonder where those running for City Council stand on this issue?

Robert Enders has already posted that he opposes tax abatements in general so he would certainly oppose this one... Karen Goldner wrote some great comments and said that it was a tough decision for her; however, she voted in favor of it on the ReDevelopment Commisssion so I would assume she would vote in favor of it on City Council.

Karen Goldner left a comment saying that I misinterpretated her position; I reread her posts and she is correct I did misinterpret her position. Karen has made it clear that if she were on City Council she would not have voted for this abatement since it did not meet the wage standard!

Updated by Mike at 12:12 PM on October 26th

Where do the rest stand?

I currently think I will vote as follows:
Mayor, Kelty
2nd District, Bartels
At Large, Horner, Larsen, and Brightbill

Wages in Fort Wayne have fallen to 80% of the National average over the last couple of decades and used to be greater then the national average. This is mostly due to the loss of manufacturing jobs; however, our local Economic Development policies have certainly failed if they are measured against wages...

We have fallen to the point to where all eight City Councilmen present (Four Reps and four Dems) feel that it is a good idea to transfer $250,000 in taxes away from a McDonalds Franchisee and onto the rest of the businesses in Fort Wayne...

Boy that will help keep wages up in Fort Wayne! Look at the message we are sending to businesses in Fort Wayne... A new McDonalds franchise is considered Economic Development in Fort Wayne!

Good Grief...

Vote against incumbents...

Better yet, vote Libertarian...

Mike Sylvester

P.S. I wonder how many locally owned and operated restuarants, that did not receive a tax abatement, will be put out of business by the newly subsidized McDonalds?

17 comments:

Robert Enders said...

This is why I was willing to run Brightbill as a paper candidate. Even though he was not able to actively campaign this year, voters should still have the option of voting for him in case the incumbents do something like this right before the election. He is fully capable of serving if elected. He is a man of principle, and if elected, there will be a few time where he will be the lone desenting vote. He is not afraid to stand up and say "This is wrong."

Karen Goldner said...

Mike, please look at my posts again. I voted for the abatement on Redevelopment because I understand the appropriate role of appointed versus elected bodies. The purpose of the (appointed)Commission's review is simply to advise the (elected) City Council as to the fiscal implication of an abatement. It is inappropriate, in my opinion, for an appointed body to tell an elected body what to do beyond the limited question we have been given to address.

If I were on City Council, I would make it clear that I believe the wage standard should apply to all abatements, whether retail, commercial, or industrial.

Thanks in advance for clearing this up on your post.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry I just don't buy the following by Ms. Goldner.

"The purpose of the (appointed)Commission's review is simply to advise the (elected) City Council as to the fiscal implication of an abatement. It is inappropriate, in my opinion, for an appointed body to tell an elected body what to do beyond the limited question we have been given to address."

That can be done on one spread sheet, by one person. It sure does not need a group of people to look over the same data the City Council is provided.

John B. Kalb said...

Mike - Probably none will go "belly-up" around the new MacDees because the area has become a non-profitable section for fast-food over the last 10 years - look at what was at this location at that time. Wendy's is brand new across the street - they will probably go to council with a request, "Hey, you did it after opening for them - how about 'Fair Play'? We want our quarter million dollar tax abatement also". Or did Wendy's already get some other "freebee" to enable them to make a profit?
Mark my words:"In 10 years things will be back to where they were 5 years ago - and we will have another 'wasteland' in place of Southtown Centre". If all the artificial "monitary props" are eliminated, non-economically sound investment falls flat on it's face! It's Economics 101!
Also, Mike, how come the 3 at-large candidates for council from your party were omitted from the News-Sentinel endorsement article?
Boy, the way things are going, someone at the county election board may "forget" them also on our ballot on November 6. John B. Kalb

Robert Enders said...

Just to reassure everybody, the Election Board has already draw up the ballot and we are on it.

I will give the News-Sentinel the benefit of the doubt. It is very difficult to keep track of all 26 council candidates on the ballot. I remember talking to a reporter who did not know that Stewart had taken Langley's place on the ballot.

Dan said...

Bob,

You're lucky to be on the ballot. I was downtown and looked at *your* filing as treasurer of the Allen County Libertarian Party and see you filed the party's report almost a week late.

Karen Goldner said...

Dear Anon:

I'm not suggesting that the system makes sense, but I am simply saying that is what the statute tells us our role is. And I am saying what we as a Commission said to Council, which was that the policy establishes a conflict which we'd like them to address (it is a Council-established policy).

If I'm elected to City Council, I think there are a number of modifications we should make to the tax abatement policy (in addition to this issue, I think we need to look at fees and some of the locally-required paperwork to make the program more accessible to smaller businesses). I will introduce these changes and work to get them adopted.

Not sure how I can be clearer than that.

Anonymous said...

Vote SYLVESTER!!! For Mayor. Write him in!!

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Karen:

I changed the post and I apologize for misinterpreting what you posted.

John:

I maintain that the McDonalds will draw customers from other businesses, their customers have to come from somewhere...

I am not sure why the NS missed our at-large candidates. They covered the rest...

Karen:

I have read your stance on tax abatements and while we do not agree 100%; I am certain that the changes you would propose would be benificial to small business owners!

Mike

Karen Goldner said...

Thank you, Mike!

Jeff Pruitt said...

Brightbill?!?

Let's not get carried away Mike. Just because someone votes irresponsibly on a certain issue doesn't mean you put someone in that has done absolutely nothing and is not qualified for the position.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Jeff:

I am still thinking about it Jeff...

City Council often tends to act like a "herd" rather then a deliberative body.

They exhibit "Group Think."

It is getting somewhat painful to watch...

Mike

Jeff Pruitt said...

Why not call John Shoaff or send him an e-mail and ask him why he voted the way he did?

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Good idea...

I will do that...

I will ask some of the others as well..

Mike

Fr. Fozy Bear said...

I posted my endorsements on my blog...

http://frfozybearftwin.blogspot.com/

Taxbuster said...

How many local businesses will be put out of business by McD's? Are you saying that with a straight face? Seriously? McD's won't put anyone out of business that wasn't ready to go out already.

It's like the smoking ban, stupid idea, but it didn't close down those 6-7 bars, their lack of a product did (and poor decisions). Similarly a tax abatement for McD's (while stupid) isn't going to give them an edge over other fast food places that'll help them run out of town.

Anonymous said...

Dan said...
Bob,

You're lucky to be on the ballot. I was downtown and looked at *your* filing as treasurer of the Allen County Libertarian Party and see you filed the party's report almost a week late. Hey Dan you try running for office and keeping track of finance forms for canidates in party and see if you make mistake. Bob is only human and has done great job.