A .25 earnings tax increase makes ballot Issue 9 a hot button topic for voters in Dayton on Nov. 8. Interestingly enough, the majority of those charged with paying this tax hike live outside of Dayton. What Mayor Nan Whaley is proposing for 70% of non-residential tax payers is not what it seems.

Mismanagement of current budget, over policing of targeted neighborhoods, and feeding the School-To-Prison-Pipeline without any economic value for residents or return of investment for taxpayers is the quick and dirty interpretation of what supporters of Issue 9 are pushing.

City Spending

This tax increase proposing to close a projected $5 million budget shortfall leaves a lot of questions. What has created this projected budget shortfall? Currently the city owns 5,700 vacant lots. What is the plan for those? Could those lots be used to create revenue with a strong community economic development plan?

The city spending millions of dollars of its current budget on old office buildings and commercial properties has been bad business. The city spent $450,000 for a building on E. 3rd, $450,000 for the Dayton Plumbing Supply building at 4th & Wayne (sold it for $10), $500,000 for Key Bank building, plus another $250,000 to hold it, $3.4 million on the old Dayton Daily News building at the corner of 4th & Ludlow and just committed $500,000 to the Levitt Pavilion. None of these expenditures are helping the city of Dayton. They are also choosing to support mostly high end development in the city core, which means they will be driving out lower income residents. Needless to say, Issue 9 will create a financial burden for those struggling to make ends meet without the benefit or even the promise of increasing opportunities and resources for residents, such as jobs and access to quality food.

Addition of Police

Adding more police keeps the focus of lowering crime on stopping crime after it occurs instead of spending on prevention by focusing on poverty and mental health services and reentry programs. The city’s administration has previously been unwilling to adopt crime prevention programs and policies to invest economically in low-income areas.

Privatization of Preschools  

When a privately held company does something that is part of the public domain, a government responsibility, they add a return on investment to the cost of doing business. They want to make a profit, and the government spends more paying that profit. Even with non-profits, usually the administration is highly paid.

Whaley sells this idea that funding public-to-private partnerships for universal preschool for all 4-year-olds in Dayton strengthens the future of the workforce with quality workers, but hasn’t created a plan that ensures provisions for the students to have fair and equal treatment. Without this type of accountability, the very thing Whaley says the $4 million that will come from the tax increase prevents becomes the inevitable. Students will continue to fall behind, impacting their future economic success.

Data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that black children are 3.6 times more likely to be suspended or expelled from preschool. In 2014-2015, 100% of preschoolers in Ohio who were kicked out were black. A new Yale study shows that implicit biases regarding sex and race relate to behavior expectations and recommendations for preschool expulsions and suspensions.

Racial Justice NOW! advocates for positive and effective alternatives to address negative developmental behaviors, ensuring student connectedness and academic, long-term economic success. Issue 9 does not have a plan for this type of accountability and this is why RJN strongly opposes Issue 9.

This tax hike that is sugar-coated with the promise of kindergarten readiness and safer neighborhoods directly supports the School-To-Prison Pipeline and privatization. The City of Dayton doesn’t need more police or the funding of private preschool programs when it has failed to implement quality crime prevention programs as opposed to buying up real estate. Additionally, DPS has a good preschool program. What this city needs is more accountability that ensures fair and effective treatment of its residents with programs and policies to economically invest in high crime, low opportunity areas.