Thursday, January 10, 2008

Done Deal - Revisited

Update to the post below: Much to my surprise, it was not Mr. Hammond who was selected to fill the open seat on the Hilliard City Council, but rather Kelly McGivern. Ms. McGivern is CEO of a lobbyist group representing health insurance providers such as Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield, CIGNA, Nationwide, and United Healthcare -- in other words, the big boys of the industry. She clearly knows her way around the political arena, and undoubtedly has many contacts in the Statehouse. It should be a good thing for Hilliard to have such a person on City Council - if her intentions are to do what is good for the community as a whole. If her motives are less noble (e.g. to continue to facilitate the interests of homebuilders to the detriment of the citizens), then her connections at the Statehouse are a conduit to enable that too. I'll hope for the former and be on the lookout for the latter.

When Hilliard City Council member Mike Cope won a seat as a Trustee for Norwich Township, he resigned his seat on the City Council. This opening gives the City Council the opportunity to select a replacement to fill the remainder of Mr. Cope's term.

We have known since December that Michelle Weadock, an active community volunteer (I served with Michelle on the Board of the Hilliard Education Foundation) was interested in the seat and made the formal application to the City Council.

Today it was announced that Dick Hammond, Kelly McGivern, and Robert Stepp have also applied for the seat.

Game over.

Mr. Hammond is of course the former member of the Hilliard School Board who lost his seat to Dave Lundregan in the last election. According to the reports filed with the Board of Elections, Mr. Hammond received contributions from Mayor Don Schonhardt, City Councilman Brett Sciotto, State Senator Steve Stivers, State Representative Larry Wolpert, and Municipal Court Judge Charles Schneider. In other words, he is very well connected politically. In a story in This Week Hilliard, Mr. Hammond was quoted as saying that he was encouraged to apply for the seat. By these politicans I expect. I have little doubt that he will be selected to fill the City Council seat at their special meeting on January 17.

This could be a good thing if Mr. Hammond becomes a strong advocate for the School District on City Council. The best way to reverse the trend of school funding costs being transferred to homeowners is to recruit businesses to Hilliard which will contribute to the cost of operations of our schools.

We have an odd system in Ohio in that a municipality can abate, or waive, most of the property taxes a business would otherwise have to pay, even though those property taxes are an income source for the schools and other government agencies, but not the municipality, which receives its revenue from income taxes on the employees of businesses in the city limits. The City of Hilliard is aggressive in the use of property tax abatements to recruit businesses, as are other central Ohio municipalities, but it has also been pretty good about finding ways to preserve some, if not all, of the school funding that would have come from those property taxes.

It would also be a good thing if Mr. Hammond can convince the Mayor and the other City Council members that unfettered residential construction is the single greatest threat to the fiscal viability of our school district. We can be quite sure that if we were not in the one of the weakest housing markets in memory, there would at this moment be hundreds if not thousands of houses under construction in the huge parcels of land near the site of our newest high school.

So we'll see. Will Mr. Hammond be the voice of the School District in the Hilliard City government, or will he be the puppet of Mayor Schonhardt?

Time will tell.


  1. You may find the link below interesting. It contains a cost per pupil comparison and a millage comparison of area schools.

  2. Thanks for the link. Interesting information.