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Mims: Investments in Dayton paying off, but works remains to be done

Downtown Dayton sits on the bank of the Great Miami River, as seen on Oct. 2, 2022.
Jordan Laird
Downtown Dayton sits on the bank of the Great Miami River, as seen on Oct. 2, 2022.

Dayton Mayor Jeffrey Mims Jr. says the investments the city has made in recent years are paying off. At the same time, he says a lot of work remains to be done.

WYSO’s Kathryn Mobley attended the 2024 State of the Citydiscussion on Wednesday. Here are excerpts from his speech.

Mims It's a constant battle. the issues that we suffered in this city, with job losses. Forty, 50 years of decline.

Mobley: Wednesday morning, Mayor Jeffrey Mims Jr. delivered the 2024 State of the City in a conversation with moderator journalist Ray Marcano. It was held in the main branch of the Dayton Library.

Mims emphasized how federal stimulus dollars paid for demolition efforts of more than 200 vacant properties—creating immediate benefits for Dayton residents.

Mims: And each house as you tear down creates about five jobs. One, the whole aspect of demolition. Two, to start looking at the asbestos removal. Three, you start looking at how they can make those spaces shovel ready. Four, how individuals can take away the trash. And then lastly, how it creates a situation for mixed use and rebuild.

Mobley: The mayor also stressed how the commission continues chipping away at the massive housing challenge. It’s allocated $1.1 million dollars to create more affordable housing.

Mims: When you drive around the city, if you take a look up on Gettysburg and Germantown Pike, for example, there's home building (going on) that property there. We're going to have apartment buildings or apartments. Also we have an urgent care, and also have a pharmacy. We also have a grocery store that will be there at the old Carlson School site. Further down the road on Germantown Pike, you look at the whole issue in terms of where we had, DeMar West. So about 50 housing units there ... So we have additional work going on at the, old Longfellow School site, about another 150, 160 different, units in that space. And right there on Grand Avenue, another, 60 spaces there.

Mobley: Meanwhile, he explained Dayton is still recovering from losing income tax dollars during COVID-19.

Mims: So the income tax is based upon people working in the city of Dayton. So if you live outside the city, but you work inside the city, your tax dollars help to make up our budget. In fact, your tax dollars for downtown makes up about half of our budget. And so the aspect of when you're working from home, those dollars have to follow you, they go back to your respective community.

The other thing that's sort of making this more difficult is, some of you may recall in 2014, we lost $12 million in terms of our local government fund, $12 million came straight out of the budget. They took those dollars away from the big cities in the state of Ohio, and they redistributed those dollars to municipalities and townships outside of the big cities. We're now back —because of a lot of work that we've done with them — to maybe about $5 million. There is a proposal to take away the income tax, as far as the cities are concerned right now. So that's in discussions right now at the House of Representatives here in Ohio. If that happens, it would put us in a very, very, dark space in terms of how we can move and continue to make great things happen.

Mobley: Regarding public safety, Mims said while good salaries are important, police officers also need quality tools.

Mims: We've been investing in the technology, the cameras, both the cameras in terms of body cameras, as well as cameras in the car. But then those license plate readers, those things have been something that's been also beneficial for us ... It's also been one of those force multipliers, if you will, because while we have a shortage in staff, the aspect of having technology helps to make up for some of that loss that we have on staff.

Mobley: He also discussed Issue 6 — the upcoming income tax renewal on the March 2024 ballot. It will annually generate about $15 million benefiting police, fire, EMS, preschool programs, road repairs, park updates, vacant lot maintenance and affordable housing. But if it doesn’t pass, Mims says "nothing good will happen."

Mims: Those things will all come to a halt in terms of our ability to make Dayton the attractive place

Mobley: Mims says passing Issue 6 won’t increase taxes. Marcano wrapped up the conversation on one of the topics Mims likes best — Dayton’s youth. The mayor told the audience if you want good citizens, you must grow them.

Mims: You have to give them what they need while they’re school age, if you will, to put them in a position so that when they come through the school process, the educational process, and before they graduate, they have this wide array of skills. Because we all have all these God-given skills that we have here. So the school and the citizens, the adults in their lives, have the responsibility of taking these young people and finding ways to nurture each of their God-given talents. And then they use those talents as they go through the process to make their positive contribution to society.

Mobley: Mims wrapped by admitting he, too, wants to see progress happen faster. But he is optimistic and urged the audience to be the same.

Mims: We have support coming from both sides of the aisle, as far as our legislators are concerned. With more investment coming to the airport, we have more support with things happening with the Arcade. And there are many things relative to housing. And we have some things coming from the state of Ohio in terms of benefits. So I will say to you, if you are maybe a little weary, some of the pieces that we use in trying to make things happen, I would just say get yourself some seat belts and just hold on to yourself, because we going keep on running as fast as we can to improve the quality of life of this city.

Kathryn Mobley is an award-winning broadcast journalist, crafting stories for more than 30 years. She’s reported and produced for TV, NPR affiliate and for the web. Mobley also contributes to several area community groups. She sings tenor with World House Choir (Yellow Springs), she’s a board member of the Beavercreek Community Theatre and volunteers with two community television operations, DATV (Dayton) and MVCC (Centerville).

Email: kmobley@wyso.org
Cell phone: (937) 952-9924