Fear mongering :
Yet, a year ago ...
Google search of ToledoBlade.com on the words cosi levy.
From the Oct 21, 2006 Blade op-ed :
The center opened in 1997. For a time, COSI helped enliven the riverfront, drawing some 270,000 visitors annually. Unfortunately, private funding couldn't keep pace and COSI has lost money every year, despite cutting its staff by half and the overall budget by nearly $1 million.
From Nov 8, 2006 Blade story :
COSI Toledo's levy request was too close to call early today.
COSI officials say they need the tax increase to pass to relieve the squeeze of increasing maintenance costs and declining attendance. Gate receipts have steadily declined since 2001, sinking to 211,000 last year.
COSI has tried to change directions, away from the tourist-attraction model, by partnering with local schools and colleges for educational opportunities.
Why should taxpayers fund an org that has had declining attendance for at least five years? Whose fault is is that "gate receipts have steadily declined since 2001?" I could understand a levy if attendance had steadily increased for five consecutive years, and additional money was somehow needed to keep up with the growth. But for whatever reason, the Toledo COSI jumped-the-shark long ago.
A Nov 3, 2007 Blade story says CitiFest’s finances are overdrawn by $40,000, and the blame goes to the Erie Street Market, which has operating losses of about $90,000 this year. We should consider creating a Do Not Resuscitate order for certain projects, so we can cut our losses and move on.
Dec 27, 2006 Blade story titled Donations keep COSI doors open - for now :
Although the hands-on children’s science museum will end 2006 with a measly $35,000 in its operating budget, contributions amounting to “a couple hundred thousand dollars” from The Anderson Foundation, KeyBank, and others may keep the institution operating long enough to forge a future, said Dr. F. Michael Walsh, chairman of COSI’s executive board.
“As of today, we certainly have enough money to survive based on the generosity of private individuals and foundations,’’ Dr. Walsh told The Blade.
“But you can’t go back to the same people over and over again.
There comes a point where they
say, ‘Fix it or that’s it,’”
The "same people over and over again" eh? Like property owners who pay taxes via levies? The taxpayers are also saying, "Fix it or that's it."
More from the Dec 27, 2006 Blade story :
COSI’s operating budget for the fiscal year that ended in June was $3.2 million.
Dr. Walsh is talking to the Toledo Zoo and the University of Toledo to form partnerships for science education that might help fund some COSI operations. But so far, the talk has been very general. “Right now, all we’ve really done is have some brainstorms,’’ Anne Baker, Toledo Zoo executive director, said yesterday.
When COSI’s closing appeared imminent, the zoo talked about contracting to hire a couple of COSI’s education staff members. Since the museum has secured other funding, however, that plan has faded. “We’ve really talked more about collaborations since then,” Ms. Baker said. For instance, the zoo plans to emphasize the polar regions in the coming year to mark the birth of three new polar bear cubs in late November.
"Nobody’s committed to anything
, but it’s a lot farther along than it was six months ago, than it was three months ago,” Dr. Walsh said of the discussions.
Ten more months have passed, so what has resulted from those partnership talks with the Toledo Zoo and UT?
Nov 5, 2006 Russ Lemmon column :
For COSI Toledo not to be a part of the revitalization would be a shame. It is struggling financially — the levy that's on Tuesday's ballot is proof — in part because downtown often resembles a ghost town.
COSI levy talk has been around for a few years.
May 26, 2005 Blade story titled COSI asks county to approve levy bid :
COSI officials said yesterday that they need levy dollars to compensate for annual budget deficits. Last year, the deficit was about $90,000, according to Lori Hauser, COSI's general manager. Ms. Hauser said COSI has an annual operating budget of about $3.5 million. She said about 80 percent comes from paid admissions and the rest is generated by sponsorships and grants.
COSI levy talk existed in 2004. Feb 15, 2004 Blade story titled Funding our cultural treasures with an idea that will probably continue to gain momentum :
With levy campaigns that cost more than $300,000, the Toledo Zoo, the Toledo Area Metroparks, and the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library have successfully convinced voters they needed money. Each levy was approved resoundingly.
But taxpayers may be facing levy fatigue.
The library and the zoo have levies that expire next year, and all three have levies expiring in 2007. And now, the local downtown hands-on science center, COSI, is considering a first-ever levy. That does not count the expected tax requests from school districts, social service agencies, and others.
Is it time to consider a single-bullet approach to paying for Toledo’s community assets?
Communities throughout the country have come to similar conclusions on funding cultural and recreational organizations. Denver, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Salt Lake County in Utah all have used a collaborative approach for public funding of museums, zoos, and science centers.
"I’m very much in favor of looking at the issue more closely. Everybody cares deeply about COSI, and the art museum, and the Valentine Theatre," Lucas County Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak said. "I believe we’re headed in our county toward more regional cooperation." She said she recognizes that any plan would have to look at how it helps taxpayers and the people who use these assets.
Ms. Thurber said she is intrigued by the idea of consolidating levies, but agreed it is possible taxpayers have had enough. "If government raises taxes, we are saying to the taxpayers that it is more important to take their money and spend it on ... COSI, the symphony, or parks," she said.
Other communities that have decided to pool resources to fund community assets, such as Pittsburgh, have reduced property taxes to help sell voters on increasing sales taxes to finance a wide range of institutions. Toledo Mayor Jack Ford has said he plans to appoint a committee that will look at ways to fund community assets.
The group may consider a levy or a fund like United Way, with businesses making contributions to help support community assets. The committee may also explore creation of a regional community assets district board.
To see how Lucas County voters might respond to a combined levy, you could look back to Nov. 4, 1997.
That’s when the county’s Metroparks, zoo, and library district
all went to the voters seeking operating levies that generate $18.5 million a year. The reaction from voters: Yes, yes, and yes
. Each request was approved, with no fewer than 73 percent
of the voters backing the issues.