UrbanCincy To Host Definitive Debate On Proposed Parks Tax at Niehoff Urban Studio

Cincinnati Parks Levy Community ForumWhile the presidential election happens next year, there is plenty of excitement on this November’s ballot for Cincinnatians. In addition to the much publicized ballot item that would legalize marijuana in Ohio, there is also an item, Issue 22, that would raise property taxes in the City of Cincinnati in order to provide capital funding for park land and facilities.

The proposed 1-mill tax would be written into the City Charter, and become what is essentially a permanent tax.

Early on the proposal gained wide-spread support, but has since been riddled with controversies. As such, it has become one of the hottest news items of late.

For those not familiar, the proposal was rolled out and explained as providing a dedicated funding source to cover capital expenditures for a number of projects at Cincinnati Parks, including helping address an estimated $55 million in deferred maintenance.

Since that time, however, opponents have charged that the way the proposal is structured gives too much power to the mayor and that it would become a slush-fund with little to no checks and balances. Further adding to the controversy has been the heavy involvement of existing and former politicians that have come under scrutiny lately for potentially improper use of public funds to bankroll the pro-tax campaign.

On Tuesday, October 20, UrbanCincy will host a debate on the topic with Green Umbrella, Tri-State Trails and Queen City Bike at the Niehoff Urban Studio in Corryville. While other debates have taken place on the issue so far, this is the first and only debate that will feature Mayor John Cranley (D) – the initiatives most prominent proponent – live and in person.

Mayor Cranley will be joined at the event by Don Mooney from Save Our Parks. The due represent the leading voice on both sides of the equation. The idea is to gather the public for a community forum to learn more about both sides of the issue, regardless of where you may or may not stand on the matter.

I will be joined by Tom Neyer Jr. of Mainstream Strategy and University of Cincinnati history professor David Stradling to moderate the discussion.

The Cincinnati Parks Levy Community Forum is free and open to the public. It will take place from 6pm to 7:30pm at the Niehoff Urban Studio in Corryville. The location is well-served by Metro bus service and is within a block of a Red Bike station. Those interested in attending are kindly asked to register in advance online so that proper arrangements can be made at the venue.

  • matimal

    I’d go, but being in the presence of cranely would make me vomit.

    • Mark Christol

      it’s not nausea, but I am physically repulsed by the guy. It’s weird. Hardly anybody does that to me.
      so, did his eyes turn black or anything cool?

    • matimal

      I think it’s the fact that the guy is a complete fraud.

  • pat mcgillidicudy

    Will Cranley’s “goons” be present to deal with dissenters?

  • Christopher Grossman

    Being relatively new to Cincinnati, it is not entirely clear to me why this dedicated funding stream is even necessary when, based on recent rankings, Cincinnati comes out near the tops for city park systems. The Trust for Public Land ranks Cincinnati’s park system #7 nationally, above any of our regional peer cities and competitive with Portland, a national city some residents may aspire to be (visit parkscore.org for the rankings). Looking in more detail at the Trust for Public Land’s 2015 City Park Facts, when adjusting the per capita spending for the cost of living, Cincinnati moves up to #4 on the list below the likes of Seattle, DC, and Minneapolis, which are all certainly cities above our immediate peer class. Other detailed data from the TPL’s 2015 City Park Facts leads me to believe that Cincinnati is at worst on-par, but more arguably well ahead of regional and national peer cities in park acres per capita and total park spending per capita. So although the arguments haven’t centered on the need for the increase, it isn’t entirely clear to this citizen why additional funds are in fact needed given our great parks system. I hope the debate at least touches on that issue to help enlighten me (and possibly others).

    • charles ross

      Could we be in the hole a little bit after the Riverfront parks push? At any rate Cranley does have big dreams for Burnett Woods.

  • NG

    Will John Cranley deign to share a stage with his opponent?

  • Marc Raab

    This is NOT a debate. It is a FORUM. Our mayor is too cowardly to debate. UrbanCincy is misrepresenting this event.

  • Craig Hochscheid

    Will King John actually debate Don Mooney, or has he set conditions on gracing the event with his presence: not sharing the stage with his opponent and only speaking after Mooney?

    • He only spoke after Mooney. He got about an hour after Mooney to speak on his own.

  • ED

    The existence of a shovel-ready renovation or improvements beyond UC students’ work would be news to me as well as the Clifton community. If this gets approved, you can bet the first check cut will be for his Wasson Way and Westwood cronies. This isn’t about making the entire system better.

  • Adam Nelson

    so……. how’d this thing go?

    • We recorded the event and it will be out as a podcast tomorrow morning.