Archive for April, 2013

Some Newark Development

April 29, 2013
Thornwood Dr.

Thornwood Dr.

West Main and Cherry Valley Rd.

West Main and Cherry Valley Rd.

West Main

West Main

Mt. Vernon Rd.

Mt. Vernon Rd.

Union and Wehrle

Union and Wehrle

4th and Locust

4th and Locust

4th and Locust

4th and Locust

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Some Newark Vacancies

April 28, 2013
Mt. Vernon Rd. I

Mt. Vernon Rd. I

Mt. Vernon Rd, II

Mt. Vernon Rd, II

Mt. Vernon Rd. III

Mt. Vernon Rd. III

West Main St. I

West Main St. I

West Main St. II

West Main St. II

West Church St.

West Church St.

11th St.

11th St.

Everett Ave.

Everett Ave.

East Main St. I

East Main St. I

East Main St. II

East Main St. II

N. 4th St.

N. 4th St.

Deo Dr.

Deo Dr.

N. 3rd St.

N. 3rd St.

Newark Must Commute

April 23, 2013

            The news last week included the decision by the Etna township trustees to accept a bid for the paving of some of the township roads. Gannet presented this in a Pataskala Standard story by Larry Fugate (4-22-13). “It appears little township cash will be used for the four projects.” For one the township will assess the homeowners on the street, another the township has received a previous Ohio Public Works Commission grant, and the final two are in the industrial/commercial area off state route 40 (non-residential). Of these one will be funded by the Joint Economic Development Zone that it is included in, the other through moneys provided by JobsOhio and Columbus 20/20. The latter two and their source of revenue have been covered in previous posts. Assessing homeowners for sewer, water line, etc. is the methodology for specific area improvements based on a user pays sensibility, again employed primarily residentially. The Ohio Public Works Commission is a state agency institute for providing assistance for, well, public works. Joint Economic Development Zones (and/or Districts) are contracts made between municipalities, townships, etc. for exchanged/shared services. Wiki, various OSU extension publications, etc. give subtle differences and nuances to what defines a District and a Zone. “Development” with real estate generally means an “improvement” on the “unimproved” land. If a barn is placed on a farm field, it is considered an improvement and the land has been developed. Turning a monoculture agriculture acreage into a biodiverse community garden is not considered development. Single unit residential housing bulldozed to make way for multi-story, multi-unit rentals is considered improvement. Etc. The Ohio revised code gives municipalities, etc. the right to enter into these contracts. Originally, they were conceived to minimize the tension between large municipalities that would cherry pick adjoining township or small municipality territory for annexation to benefit commercial development. Under a JEDD or JEDZ, in exchange for receiving utility services like water/sewer/ etc. the smaller governments would receive tax revenue, provide fire/police, etc. The 11-16-12 This Week Licking County News (a Dispatch publication) article by Lori Wince describes Licking County’s JEDZ:

 

 “The JEDZ is a part of a joint economic-development agreement in Licking County, which includes land in the Etna Corporate Park. It includes the ProLogis properties along U.S. Route 40.

Under the JEDZ, local governments such as townships that do not collect an income tax may enter agreements with jurisdictions that have income taxes, such as cities, and apply the tax to the designated areas. The Newark income-tax rate is 1.75 percent of wages and net profits on business.

The funds may be used for various purposes, including maintaining roads and other infrastructure at the site and distributing the income-tax revenues to the participating entities. The term of the agreement is 30 years.

Revenues from the JEDZ are distributed as follows: 20 percent to an improvements fund that pays for roadways and infrastructure at the JEDZ property; 30 percent to Etna Township; 30 percent to Southwest Licking schools; 10 percent to the city of Newark; 5 percent to Licking County; 4.5 percent to the Newark Income Tax Department for administering the JEDZ; and 0.5 percent to the Career and Technology Education Centers of Licking County.”

 

To say that Newark is an adjoining municipality is a real stretch of the original intent of JEDZ’s and JEDD’s. Even a quick glance at a county map shows that to be Pataskala and Reynoldsburg (which sits mainly in Franklin county). Pataskala has had a great deal of trouble funding its own municipal services after its huge land annexation. It must be Newark’s “deep pockets” (in the parlance of our litigious culture) that made it adjoining. In exchange for its financial services, Newark has potential employment for its human resource(s) while Etna and Pataskala receive all the real (estate) development and improvement.

 

The 4-21-13 Lancaster Eagle Gazette (Gannet) ran an article on concerns that Lancaster may become a “bedroom community”. It reported the 2011 US Census bureau shows 55.3% of Fairfield county residents work outside the county. Although part of this is attributed to communities in the county immediately adjoining Columbus, still it raises a concern with Lancaster city governance. Checking the same census, this blog’s author found that 45.4% of Licking County residents commute to out of county jobs. The same could be said for some western Licking county communities, but Newark’s engagement is not negligible. At one time it was reported that a third to one half of Newark’s workforce commutes out of the city.   Some issues are immediate. Newark invests in private development and improvement outside its own 21 square miles which necessitates an individual commute for each employee. The city utilizes its human resource in exchange for the tax revenue collected from their employment. Another more covert feature is the serendipitous relation of the 43% of residential housing in Newark that is rented and the percentage of those inhabitants who must commute outside the city to pay that rent. Again, as covered in previous blog postings, residential housing rental is one of the biggest, if not the largest business in Newark. With the JEDZ /JEDDs, CICs and various public/private partnerships, the private business pays no real estate tax for development and improvement for 15 years (half the JEDZ life) AND usually receives up to a 50% income tax abatement for doing so. The residents of Newark subsidize this through their rent payments (which cover the landlord’s real estate tax of their residential property) and their income tax, from a job that must pay enough to afford the employee’s commute (Licking County public transit is totally inadequate). Inconveniently, the children of these commuting workers do not accompany them to work. Street improvements, running a summer pool or recreation  programs, etc. are publicly (City of Newark) managed/funded, as are the schools (Newark City Schools). Historically, this scenario is not unusual for Newark. At the turn of the 19th to 20th century Newark was a rail hub and residence to the laborers who mined the coal in Perry county. A local historian informed me that as many as three trains carried folks out of Licking county each morning, returning them each night to their rented rooms and housing.  Sunday was a day off.

JobsOhio Update

April 17, 2013

Easy to understand

 

April 15 This Week [Licking County] Community News, of which the Dispatch is the parent company, reports “Etna Township fails To Comply With Records Request” by Lori Wince. Significant within the article are several facts:

“The records were requested under Section 149.43 of the Ohio Revised Code, which explains how public records must be made available for review: “Upon request and subject to division (B)(8) of this section, all public records responsive to the request shall be promptly prepared and made available for inspection to any person at all reasonable times during regular business hours.”” and

“Etna Township was sued in 2006 when its trustees denied public records to a man because he would not identify himself.

The trustees and their insurer were to pay $10,000 to cover the legal bills of “John Q. Public,” who sued anonymously after then-Trustee Paul George ordered him from township offices when he identified himself only as a “concerned citizen” while seeking meeting minutes, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

The case before the Ohio Supreme Court was dismissed after attorneys for the township and the plaintiff agreed to a settlement, which included acknowledging that anyone can review records without identifying themselves, according to the Dispatch.” Easy enough to understand.

 

Not so easy to understand

 

April 16 Columbus Dispatch This Week Community news Joe Vardon reports “JobsOhio Pays Back $8.4 Million To State”. Bear in mind that JobsOhio is a public private partnership (see this blog’s April 11, 2013 post). Significant to note is that Vardon bothers to point out that “New Development Services Agency spokeswoman Lyn Tolan verified the amounts to The Dispatch today – responding to a public records request filed by the newspaper more than one month ago.” (during which time the state’s Auditor Dave Yost claimed a right to look) The necessity to respond was in the sums the state received, on account of the Ohio Revised Code’s obligation to provide record of  state grants repaid NOT from JobsOhio (which maintains its privilege of privacy). Vardon artfully weaves the convoluted web of funding that maintained JobsOhio in its first year primarily through a wholly owned subsidiary (only natural for a corporate structuring). In 2004 the Taft administration formed the Ohio Business Development Coalition (state funded). As Vardon puts it “The majority of JobsOhio’s public money – nearly $6.8 million — came from grants from the state to JobsOhio’s wholly owned subsidiary, the little-known JobsOhio Beverage System.” The Ohio Business Development Coalition became the wholly owned subsidiary (JobsOhio Beverage System) one day after JobsOhio came into being. Unlike the name change, what remained was the grant funding already in place before JobsOhio was formed. A valuable acquisition indeed! The Dispatch article concludes with: “The $6.8 million in grants, coupled with the $6.9 million in private donations, helped JobsOhio operate until a complicated lease of the state’s wholesale liquor profits could be completed, a transaction expected to generate about $100 million a year for JobsOhio. 

The grant contract with JobsOhio Beverage System was terminated on Jan. 31 — the day before JobsOhio gained access to the state liquor profits.” Not so easy to understand, except that the money made available through grants and now ultimately from the state’s liquor monopoly is public. Such large sums must be necessary so that the private (and thus undisclosed) salaries of top management at JobsOhio can be competitive with that of their peers at Wall Street firms like John Kasich’s former employer (the now defunct Lehman Brothers), or Goldman Sachs, etc. Something to watch for but for which the public doesn’t have the right to look.

 

 

Newark Meijer Revisited

April 14, 2013

 

            “Why cry over spilt milk?” was Ida’s immediate response to our short conversation regarding employment after Meijer. Almost all conversations at supermarket checkout are just one step up from Twitter communiques. There is increasingly less stuff to be had and folks are shopping Meijer more out of custom than acknowledgement of the inevitable. If your recipe requires Jalapeno peppers, and there are none (and won’t be ever again), well you need to go to another establishment. Why not go there to begin with? The cashiers know this. Yet the locals haven’t noticed. The response has been mostly petition drives imploring the store not close, or telling the cashiers what a shame to see them go. We will miss them. It is a normal, natural response rooted in a “local” community disposition. It jars because the giant retailer has no community involvement or interest. And yet, there they are. They arrived in town to make a profit. Now that there is not enough to be made, they are out of here. They leave a building without upgrades, an unpaved parking lot, and fuel tanks that will eventually need to be dug up and disposed of.  There is no “Newark Meijer Community Pool or Community Center”. Never was. Never will be.

            Many readers will remember when a neighborhood mechanic needed extensive hospital care, a restaurant owner or corner grocer suffered a personal loss or property damage.  Residents would “support” the proprietor, financially as well as actively getting involved. “Just the right thing to do.” It still happens today and is the normal “local” community response. Local economy assumes personal involvement, commitment and responsibility on the part of those providing as well as those obtaining goods and services; not as competing entities out to get “the best deal” but as complimentary parts of a cooperative joint living endeavor. One isn’t without the other. We are all in this together. The Newark City Council’s response to rental registration as well as today’s Newark Advocate editorial make the same assumption (“As we’ve noted before, the city must take steps to protect property owners living in their own homes across Newark. These residents are the core investors with a long-term stake in our community. We need them badly if we’re going to stop the downward slide of our housing stock, let alone improve neighborhoods. We don’t want more and more homes becoming rentals, especially with non-local owners.”). Unfortunately, this is approaching a very real, concrete and (some would say) even glaring problem from a “wish it were so” perspective. Vehicles are leased by corporate interests with no connection to Newark. Likewise corporate entities offering communication services, food supply (both retail suppliers as well as franchise restaurants), and housing have little or no community connection or commitment other than doing business in Newark. 43% of the residential housing being non-owner occupant says as much as how many folks drive cars that don’t belong to them but are only leased (a nice way of saying rented). It’s easier thinking that all those cars in the Meijer parking lot have “owners” shopping inside. The Advocate’s and City Council’s response to rental registration parallels that of long time Meijer shoppers. It is easier to continue imagining we have a local economy with committed, interested participants than it is to admit it is overwhelmingly a business economy of investments, marketing and bottom line interests. Council should stop treating the 43% of Newark residential housing as though it were mom and pop business, and start treating it as being about flipping houses, leverage and cash flow.  

Jerry McClain, Rental Registration, MLK And The Children’s Home

April 11, 2013

This morning a single WCLT newscast notified that Jerry McClain announced work would commence on a multi-story business tower on the northeast corner of Fourth Street and Locust in Newark, Ohio. On April 8 the City of Newark website posted “Public Involvement Meeting – Open House regarding the planned improvements to convert SR13 – Mt Vernon Road over SR16 and the nearby streets to accept two-way traffic operation, as opposed to the existing one-way operation.” for Weds. April 17, 5PM Newark City Council.  Follow up information on the McClain Company is difficult to immediately access on the WCLT “News” website (which is not, has nothing). The morning Advocate is mute. See previous “Right To Look” (3-7-13) post for the local news in Newark. The City of Newark website gives no information regarding its involvement in private public partnership (Newark Development Partners Community Improvement Corporation). As of this posting, the writer has received no follow up information from the contact listed for the Joint Economic Development Board. Just adjacent to Jerry McClain’s future development is the home of the Licking County Chamber of Commerce. The recent CIC endeavor of the Chamber is entitled “Grow Licking County” The Licking County website gives “‘Grow Licking County’ is a Community Improvement Corporation and a cooperative effort between Licking County Government, The Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority, and the Licking County Chamber of Commerce.” No further information is given. Attempts made to learn the names of who is on the board and who they represent from Dan Evers at the Chamber have gone unanswered as of this posting. No such info appears on the Grow Licking County website. The lack of information, which ought to be readily available to the public regarding CIC activity, is not unusual. A year ago (4-11-12) an essay entitled “In The Public Interest” was posted on the blog All The Noose That Is Knot:

“Here in the American state of Ohio the governor (John Kasich) is remodeling our state government. Ohio’s office of economic development has been transformed into JobsOhio. This is organized as a public private commission, board, corporation (whatever you want to use as lipstick is OK by me). The membership of such “public private” governance is usually split 40/60, public /private. Moneys involved usually are 60/40 public/private. Meetings, decision making, etc. is private (so it is outside the reach of Ohio’s government “sunshine” regulations). But final determinations of commitment with regard to policy, spending, etc. rests with the governor or legislature. More such “collaborations” are in the works, with statewide management of human resources (employment) falling under the same rubric and employment training/education likewise having a new “public private” initiative. Some of the folks representing the “public”, and acting as chair, are distinguished individuals like Gordon Gee, president of the Ohio State University (who was once on the board of trustees of the very private, and now defunct Massey Energy until its West Virginia Upper Big Branch mine exploded, inconveniently killing the workers inside). Delving deeper, one finds many such commissions and boards comprised of public/ private representatives dealing with public safety, utilities, transportation, natural resources, etc. On the local level we find ditto of above. The duly elected Licking County commissioners have entered into a Community Improvement Corp, with the same makeup as described above. The county seat of Newark, not to be undone, is entering into its own CIC with the city’s corporate big boys. These “developments” involve various tax breaks, easements, zoning changes and structural improvements/services to facilitate business growth. They also determine where the public funding is ultimately spent (enhancing the value of specific business property considerably over that of the surrounding generic residential neighborhoods).”

Since its inception JobsOhio has found itself embroiled in litigation, etc. losing its initial director and fighting a look see into its books by the state’s auditor amongst other things. A lot of it centers around the right to look.

Working its way into the news this week was the proposal made to establish rental registration and inspection, etc. of the 43% of Newark residential housing that is not owner occupant. The 4-9-13 Advocate’s headline regarding this was “Rental Registration Proposal Dies”. It reported “Newark Real Estate broker Steve Layman said only one tenant in the roughly 300 rental properties his company manages has filed a complaint. Mandating self-inspections of all those units — as the measure proposed — would have required his company to hire someone to inspect all of those properties, even those reporting no problems.” It was not reported that anyone questioned such a business practice of not having a paid employee of the company keeping a watchful eye on the condition of the company’s cash cow. No one with a company having a fleet of 300 trucks, 300 stores, or even a farmer with 300 head of cattle or hogs, would wait until there was “a complaint” (break down or disease). In a previous session entertaining Rental Registration, multi-unit landlord Gerald DePalmo objected that such legislation would stifle development.

At its 4-2-13 meeting the Licking County Commissioners announced the imminent demolition of the Children’s Home on East Main Street in Newark. The 4-10-13 Newark Advocate  follows up that “Sparta Restaurant owner Chris Ramsey said he will meet with local architects and Licking County Commissioner Duane Flowers to discuss whether it is possible to rehabilitate the former Licking County Children’s Home. Ramsey proposes turning the former home into a community center, affordable apartments and what he called an incubator for economic and social growth.” Today’s Advocate reports the commissioners are planning the development of a brick give away. In its ongoing coverage of the history of the Children’s Home, the Advocate reports repeatedly that the building was not included in any projected future development plans for Licking County back during the Bush presidency and has been essentially boarded up since 2009. The 4-6-13 edition quotes area resident Pam Bailey as stating: “It’s not just Newark,” she said. “It’s this whole country. What’s this country without its history?”

Speaking of this country’s history, the 1963 Newark Advocate on January 2nd ran a short article reporting that in a speech on the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation Dr. Martin Luther King advocated a nationwide boycott of companies who ban employment to Negroes. He is quoted as saying “Segregation is nothing but slavery covered up with certain niceties.” Dr. King was able to advocate such action, as boycotts were effective 50 years ago (as evidenced not only with the civil rights movement but the United Farm Workers, etc.). Business needed a public to purchase its product, in order to foster business’ profit, growth and development. Dr. King would not be able to do this today. The public is told that it needs business to foster the public’s livelihood, growth and development. If the public will not pay, business will effectively boycott the community. To paraphrase Dr. King “Public/private partnership is nothing but extortion covered up with certain niceties.”