I come from a different world: the private sector and financial assets – assets that are easy to sell and can be monitored on a minute by minute basis as to price and performance. If I want to get a chart of P&G’s common stock valuation over the last ten years, or twenty, or thirty I can go to a nearly infinite variety of online sites, customize the data, compare it to benchmark indexes – all for free, immediately, without bothering anybody.
So it’s very frustrating when I look for (what I consider) basic data in a user-friendly form in the city and it’s not available. Sometimes I get so frustrated I assume the worst.
Recently I decided to stop complaining and just ask people for the information, make my own dang charts and test my assumptions. Here’s my first one. Since every single building project we’ve ever subsidized has always been presented with the idea of adding jobs that will result in more income tax revenue for the city, I wanted to see the numbers. Is this working? I am very happy to report, it is.
*I deleted the data for 2013 as that was the year the City of Cincinnati changed to a fiscal year and the period ending June 2013 only represents 6 months.
Now all we have to do is factor in inflation. The $116,672,000 we collected in 1985 would be worth $260,170,800 today ( average 2.71% inflation rate). In 2014 the city collected $340,990,000 – a 31% improvement.
Even though I couldn’t get this information online instantly, staff at City Hall was extremely helpful and had the information for me 24 hours after they received my request. (Thanks Christine Zimmer in Legal for working 7 days a week to help keep government transparent. Thanks, Karen Alder, Assistant Finance Director, City of Cincinnati, Finance Department for helping me see the light.)
Why stop there? Let’s thank our elected representatives on City Council, the revolving door of city development administrators – and gosh – why not? – our commercial real estate developers. Because what this chart shows is that public policy has chugged steadily along in the right direction no matter who is in office, no matter how many obstacles we put in its path. Democracy is messy, but apparently it works.
Stay tuned for more report cards as I gather the data: revenues going to Cincinnati Public Schools, property tax collections in the city center, population and average/median income per resident.