Thursday, August 22, 2013

Amberley is not an Island

One thing I like to keep in mind when I think about Amberley and my responsiblitity to the village as a council member, is how Amberley can remain a vibrant community, given the challenges that all local municipalities are facing, including elimination of estate tax, local government funds, and tangible personal property tax,  since most of our state revenue has been cut or eliminated. Where does Amberley Village fit within the structure of Hamilton County and who is looking out for us, besides our Amberley officials? Fortunately, we are not alone, but as a small community, it is important for us to shout a little louder and be a little more visible, so as not to be neglected.

One of the organizations that Amberley participates in is the First Suburbs Consortium of Southwest Ohio. First Suburbs are those suburbs that are generally located near core cities and were established prior to 1960. First suburbs share many common concerns -- older housing stock, shrinking tax base, and competition from the newer, outer exurbs for economic development. As the name suggests, the First Suburbs Consortium can generate the power of collaborative interests to influence policy -- as it is doing right now regarding HB5 and changes to how Ohio collects municipal tax.

Representatives to the First Suburbs Consortium are appointed by council. I was appointed in 2011 as an "alternate" representative. In February of this year, I learned that our appointed representative was not attending meetings, thereby leaving Amberley unrepresented and without a voice. In March, I attended my first First Suburbs general membership meeting where the Mill Creek Watershed was discussed, as well as updates regarding HB5 and other state legislative news. I have subsequently been appointed to serve on the executive committee of the Consortium.

Amberley is facing many challenges ahead, as we are forced to contend with a shrinking budget yet residents expect the same level of service they are used to. It is important for us to realize that we, as a community, share many of the same issues with our neighboring communities and that we are stronger when we harness our collective resources and ideas. The First Suburbs Consortium is just one way Amberley can have a louder voice at the state level.

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