Okay, so I spend roughly nine months out of my year in Columbus, Ohio. The other three months (again, roughly) I am in my hometown of West Chester. If our obscure suburban community rings a bell, it is probably because we are the home of Speaker John Boehner, which is oh such a treat.
Now, this ballot issue is relatively straight forward. The Columbus Zoo used to be a dump. It was the definition of a strugglebus, and things weren’t going too hot. But after the first public levy passed in 1985, things began to look up. The Zoo has since asked for levies in 1990, 1994, and 2004 with no problem. Now, however, this levy is a big deal. The Koch Brothers funded “Americans for Prosperity” have entered the fray with a bunch of anti-tax nonsense, as well as a few local groups. I’ve taken a few points off of ZooTax.org (which is the website supported by a local group in opposition to the zoo) to discuss one-by-one:
POINT NO. 1: zOMG 105% Tax Increase
Groups against the Zoo Levy are eager to point out that this levy is asking for a bit more funding than they did previously. When you crunch the numbers, this levy does (technically) amount to a 105% increase in this particular tax.
But what groups neglect to say some of the time is how much money exactly we are talking about. For most, we are talking $25-$35 more a year. I’m a poor college student, and I can still manage to blow that amount of money when I go to the Gallery Hop in the Short North, or take a rare pilgrimage to Polaris Mall. This is not a “financial burden” to anybody.
This is also extremely misleading with groups tell residents that their "tax bill is going to double", and people think that that means their ENTIRE Property Tax, while really it means the small percentage that is the zoo levy (aka 30 dollars).
$25…a year? it’s just too much man, just too much
Okay, this appears to be a fair point initially, and actually resulted in me making a fool of myself discussing this issue on Twitter with an old friend (I’m not linking you to this one, but you can prolly find it :P ).
Basically, the answer can be summed up by this map (clicky). The people who go to the zoo should pay for the zoo, right? And where are all the people? Yeah, in Franklin County.
…and this point is particularly strange, because if the people of Franklin County had a problem paying for a zoo that — albeit is outside their borders (but is easily accessible and they all go to.) — why have voters approved levies for it for over two decades? It seems to me that people are just fine funding a Zoo that brings millions of dollars into the state, that just happens to be a few stone throws outside the county borders. And if the equality of the taxation is really such a huge problem, why don’t these hoity-toity “we-hate-taxes-because-we-love-freedom” groups just propose that other counties pitch into the tax? Easy fix.
Why? Because this reason is…wait for it…..bullshit…
This is perhaps the stupidest point of them all, and worst of all, it is headlining text of the aforementioned website.
First off, there aren’t three Zoos. That’s like saying “OMG why are we paying for SIX OHIO STATE UNIVERSITIES” when someone realize OSU has branch campuses. There is one Ohio State with different campuses to serve different students geographically, and in others to offer totally different specializations. There aren’t six Ohio States, and there aren’t three zoos.
Secondly, only 9% of the proposed levy will go to the construction of this mystical “third zoo” that will serve as a downtown Columbus feature.
Thirdly, and perhaps most ironically, WEREN’T YOU LITERALLY JUST COMPLAINING ABOUT THE ZOO BEING IN A DIFFERENT COUNTY THAN THE TAXED PEOPLE? Now they want to bring apart of the zoo to Franklin County, and your whining because of that?! Jeez, can anything make you people happy?
And even if you, my reader, tend to be anti-tax (which is perfectly fine), can we just agree that this is a bizarre place to wage a campaign for the soul of the American taxpayer (waged by nebulous billionaires from outside of Ohio, no less)? It’s the f**** zoo for goodness sake! There is no “corruption”, there are no dubious unions, there is literally nothing but good fluffy animals that kids love to see.
VOTE YES ON ISSUE SIX :)