Monday, April 28, 2008

Dear Rep. Ted Celeste --

Below is the text of a email I just sent to the office of State Rep. Ted Celeste, who will be holding a "District Dialog on Education" tonight (4/28 7pm) at Hilliard Crossing Elementary School.

Representative Celeste:

I look forward to attending your District Dialog on Education tonight at Hilliard Crossing Elementary School. I have to admit that I'm not a resident of your district (or even a Democrat!), but I am deeply involved in issues of school funding.

There are four kinds of school districts in Ohio: a) the rural/agricultural areas; b) the rural/Appalachian areas; c) the urban cores; and, d) the suburbs. Hilliard is of the last type.

Whatever next school funding mechanism you and your colleagues in the General Assembly develop, it is clear to me that school districts like Hilliard will be net contributors. By that I mean that the residents and businesses of our school district will pay more in aggregate income, property, corporate activity and other taxes than we will receive back in school funding and other state government services.

To some degree, that's the bed we've made for ourselves. While we weren't watching, the developers and the politicians who enable them have, for their own profit, shaped Central Ohio into a region with unsustainable economics - at least as far as school funding goes. But if our schools fail, the region fails as well.

The combination of the water/sewer service agreements with the City of Columbus, the Win-Win Agreement, and soon the Big Darby Accord have allowed ten of thousands of new residences to be built in the suburban school districts while keeping significant commercial development within the City of Columbus. At the same time, the State of Ohio has frozen State Aid to what it considers the more affluent suburbs, leaving it to us to figure out how to raise enough money to run our schools.

One could argue that we in the suburbs, by not paying enough attention to the impact of development, brought this on ourselves. I think that this is true. The question is what we should do going forward.

I believe the single most important tool the General Assembly could give Hilliard, and the other suburban districts like us, is the ability to enact impact fee levies. I've spoken to both Rep. Wolpert and Sen. Stivers about this in the past (see my attached letter).

Rep. Wolpert was one of the sponsors of HB299 in the 126th General Assembly - a bill which would have been a start in this direction. It is my understanding that this bill never made it to the House floor.

As member of the House Education Committee, I would hope you would support, if not sponsor similar legislation in the future.


Paul H. Lambert

If you agree with this position, it wouldn't hurt to let Representatives Celeste and Wolpert know you feelings.

Rep Celeste:

Rep Wolpert:


  1. Would these be the same people to whom we should address our desire to institute impact fees?

    (I personally would vote for every levy if simply an impact fee was enacted such that I knew that new housing would be pay for itself. Why is that common sense idea so incredibly elusive for our representatives?)

  2. If you live in the Hilliard School district, your Representative in the Ohio General Assembly is either Ted Celeste or Larry Wolpert. If you don't know which it is, you can find out here.

    These Representatives are the members of the House Education Committee, who I would think would be the most likely to introduce such legislation.

    The notion of impact fees is well-known to our legislators. But our voices are not the loudest ones they hear. Here's what another blogger reported in regard to the 2006 elections:

    Saying that State Sen. Bob Schuler (R-Sycamore Township) is "financially tied to inaction," the campaign of challenger Rick Smith (D-Cincinnati) has issued a press release detailing sources of Schuler's campaign contributions.

    “I am continually appalled at the source of Senator Schuler’s campaign contributions and I am especially disturbed by his willingness to take contributions from industries he directly oversees. If elected, I pledge to not take contributions from any company, or person working for a company, in an industry over which I have oversight authority through my committee assignments.”

    Contributions Schuler has received include: $23,672 from the builder/developer lobby, which opposes impact fees on new residential construction and other measures to help control the effect of urban sprawl. “I support these changes”, said Smith. “However, the builder/developer lobby opposes this effort, and they clearly expect support from Senator Schuler, as they provided 21% of the Senator’s growing contributions in 2006.”

  3. By the way, our school district has formed what it calls the ACT Committee that is supposed to serve as "advocates of the district to state and local legislators." You'll notice that they make no mention of Impact Fees as a possible solution. I know they know what impact fees are because I was an original member of this Committee and brought it up.

    Perhaps it would be a good thing to attend their presentation this Wednesday and ask why?

  4. I chose to attend Rep Celeste's meeting last night rather than the School Board because, well the School Board meetings only last a few minutes with nothing said.

    There were only about 20 people were at Rep Celeste's meeting; most were familiar faces from our school district, but also a few from other areas of Rep Celeste's district.

    There was plenty of good conversation from audience, but I realize that we spent more time talking amongst ourselves than we did asking Rep Celeste his thoughts on solving the school funding problems in Ohio. Missed opportunity...

    I also had the chance to meet Keith Goldhardt, the Democratic candidate for the 23rd House District, the seat now held by our own Larry Wolpert, who must leave office due to the term limitations. I found that we had some common interests and concerns, particularly regarding the way the Big Darby Accord shapes up. He'll get my vote.

  5. Having attended the meeting, it was good dialogue, and no, not much to tie down Celeste to his commitments

    Interesting that some banter went back and forth on the levy.
    I think the ACT meeting could be
    a hoot. I think they are more
    concerned with defending the district then advocating solutions

  6. Shoot, just seeing this thread now and missed the Wednesday meeting. Anyone go? Asking ACT about impact fees is probably like asking a liberal Democrat about tax cuts but it would be interesting to see what their reply would be.

  7. Yep, I went to the ACT meeting. My comments here.