June 30th, 2016

If the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority needs an infusion of cash, which no doubt RTA does, it need no more trouble than looking above its central location at Tower City.

I mean the Jack Cleveland Casino.

And really, to Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish and Cuyahoga County Commissioners.

The County bosses control a heavy chunk of casino tax revenue in a special fund.

The Casino Revenue Fund, as of June 20, reports $27,771,172 in revenue, according to the County’s Fiscal Office of Budget and Management. The report of out-going money shows $27,669,449 allocated. However, that includes $5,869,449 flowing to another slush fund called the Job Creating Fund, with no accounting there of disbursements.

Not one penny of that goes to RTA.

There’s a reason for that. RTA serves mostly lower income people.

So let’s ignore them and simply charge them more.

Much of the casino money is going, as it seems all Cleveland and county resources flow, to downtown development, particularly housing that already is rewarded with various subsidies, plus BIG TAX ABATEMENTS.

The continuing siphoning off of public funds to downtown by Mayor Frank Jackson and County Executive Budish is a crime against ordinary people who pay unabated full prices. And get burdened a bundle of regressive taxes for wealthy interests.

Further, over the years commercial building have had the property tax lowered wholesale. There was a time that commercial and industrial property paid more than homeowner property. People, and politicians, forget that gift, now massive over the decades.

There’s not a politician I see left in town who really sticks up for ordinary people and that includes the many black politicians elected in the last 20 or so years.

It’s business as usual—all for those who already have too much.

Our politicians – from every City and County Council members—don’t seem to recognize the need to help ordinary citizen in their needs.

RTA – raise the rates; cut the services. Downtown—find new gifts.

That’s how our public agenda gets skewed and we spent $310 million for a road less than 3 miles. Why? It’s a road our civic/political/media elites want. For our second downtown—University Circle & the Cleveland Clinic.

See how much of the casino fund has been slated for downtown projects.

  • East Ohio Gas building renewal: $1.5 million.
  • East Bank Flats East Development: $1.5 million.
  • Playhouse Square Development: $3,684,650.
  • Playhouse Square Development: $315,350.
  • May Company renewal downtown: $4,000,000.
  • These are low interest loans.

    Another project slated on the County Casino document apparently has been funded via another county fund.

    It includes $3,000,000 for the Gateway-Huron project, another housing project downtown. It will also include offices, a hotel and other outlets.

    Michelle Jarboe, the PD‘s hard-working development reporter, wrote in November, 2014, about the project, already slated for other public gifts via Cleveland:

    Preliminary legislation related to the TIF was introduced at Cleveland City Council last month. Council also will see a request this year for two $180,000 forgivable loans for the project, through a city program focused on vacant or little-used properties. The residential portion of the project will be eligible for property-tax abatement, which is widely available for new housing in Cleveland.

    Housing also gets up to 15 years of tax abatement, likely headed to this project too.

    The Downtown Alliance, now the private operator of downtown as the city withdraws from the area. The Alliance, which operates as the papal state does in Rome, also had listed some $3,000,000 from casino funds but the funding was removed from the County Commissioners. One commissioner said another fund will be used for the Alliance.

    Some of the casino funding does flow to suburban communities. List on the “project schedule” was $4 million for the City of Euclid’s waterfront and another $500,000 for a project labeled “Euclid-St. Clair Industrial Roadway project.

    The biggest project funded in the suburbs was the $4.3 million for the Van Aken shopping center. The project represents the development by the Forest City owners, including Sam Miller and Al Ratner. They owned Tower City for many years and still have offices there. This project also will get TIF (property taxes paid but diverted to project needs) for 30 years. Much public money has already gone into street renovations in that area.

    The inequities of high regressive taxes, shifted property taxes and misuse of public funds have a strong impact on income inequality, too.

    We are heavily burdening low income people with taxes they can’t afford.

    And now, Mayor Jackson and City Council want an increase in the income tax, which really is a payroll tax, not paid by much of the income of wealthy people.

    And a tax that hits the first dollar most worker earn.

    We see the system breaking down and these are some of the reasons for the rupture.

    By Roldo Bartimole…


    1. This was published today with some relevant material on funding RTA from Policy Matters:

      Ohio is the seventh most populous state with the 14th highest public transit ridership rates, yet we rank 47th in public transportation funding. About 96 percent of public transportation spending funnels into urban cores, which is a good thing. But public transit represents less than 1 percent of Ohio’s entire transportation budget. The most recent Ohio transit study conducted by the Ohio Department of Transportation concluded that Cleveland needs to enhance its public transit system to the same level as Portland, Oregon, and the rest of Ohio’s mid-sized cities need to make their systems equivalent to Cleveland’s current system. With Ohio choosing to spend only 63 cents per person on transit per year while neighboring states spend an average of $24 to $85 per person, the necessary public transit expansion is impossible with the current budget. —by Grace Billiter.

    2. MFiala says:

      The shift of resources to downtown has been bald and bold.

      There is a long failed history to make Cleveland ‘a tourist town’ and downtown ‘an elite playground, ‘ over the last 100 years, as Dan Kerr documents in his book, Derelict Paradise. That hasn’t stopped the effort … because it’s ultimately about who benefits from such failed investments, even if they glitter for awhile, before burning out. The billions put into downtown are showing a small return, though that is buoyed by such bizarre and relentless propping up that it’s hard even to call it that.

      A recent study commissioned by the Downtown Alliance notes the problems of the upsurge in downtown dwellers to the detriment of jobs and office space.

      So, the new problems created by the so-called ‘urban renaissance’ downtown requires MORE INVESTMENT! according the study to address the problems that ‘success’ has generated.

      Downtown Cleveland grows, but study shows urban revival has a long way to go

      Downtown Cleveland: The Dynamic Engine of a Talent-Driven Economy

      Our city leaders know what they are doing and whom they are serving. It’s not a mystery.

      That’s why it’s only every 4 years they have to suffer an election (not every 2 years).

      I grieve and mourn these choices. They represent a disastrous course.

      Some of us will chart a different one. Consider coming to the People’s Justice and Peace Convention, July 15-17 at Olivet Baptist Church (E. 87 & Quincy, Fri eve & Sat), Masonic Auditorium (Sunday July 17)


      Cleveland Nonviolence Network

    3. Mike: Thanks again for comment and the added information.

      I do recommend that everyone get or at least read Kerr’s Derelict Paradise about Cleveland history and follow your other advice.

      We have no politician apparently who looks at the Other Cleveland that so badly needs assistance. It has been going on for too long and one wonders whether the city will suffer repercussions as it has in the past. Then there will be hand wringing as if this were all a big surprise.

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