I am deeply dismayed and perplexed that Mayor Schonhardt plans to veto the funding proposal for Destination Hilliard which already has been approved by city council by a 5-2 vote.

I am deeply dismayed and perplexed that Mayor Schonhardt plans to veto the funding proposal for Destination Hilliard which already has been approved by city council by a 5-2 vote.

By their vote it is apparent that after having studied the vision, the strategic plan, and the current implementation they made the decision to embrace the future with the investment of funding. Our city council has demonstrated remarkable courage and bold action rather than to retreat in the face of verbal barrages by the mayor.

Mayor Schonhardt would be well advised to reconnect with the citizens of our community who have already witnessed the very positive effects of Destination Hilliard.

In his letter to city council addressing why he is choosing to veto the legislation, he uses phrases that communicate that there is no accountability to the voters, "... no safeguards to prevent... replicating the failures of the past", "providing permanent funding", "arbitrarily" funding, "penalizes... the administration", and many more. Such phrases are a fundamental misrepresentation of the truth. Frankly, I am shocked that the mayor would willingly and in such a totally premeditated fashion choose to distort the record of this organization.

The mayor repeatedly states that he supports Destination Hilliard—- in fact, to anyone who will listen. Other than his lip service to that effect there is no real substance of his support as he has utilized heavy handed tactics to attempt to minimalize and undermine the effectiveness of Destination Hilliard. Further, he knows full well that his arguments lack substance as pointed out by President Sciotto and many others. What is most disturbing is his opinion that there is a lack of "collaboration and cooperation from parties that presumably stand to benefit form its (Destination Hilliard) operation." Such a comment calls into question the integrity of many community members who, in fact, have collaborated and cooperated in a conscientious attempt to significantly enhance our community. Mr. Mayor, who stands to benefit from the growth of Destination Hilliard? Quite simply, all the citizens of Hilliard. Destination Hilliard is a "win-win-win" situation of the highest order and should be regarded as such.

I congratulate those courageous council members who voted to invest in the future of our community. I congratulate those energetic and committed citizens who boldly represent all the best in our local businesses and civic organizations. I congratulate Ms. Christy Clark, our executive director, whose experience, wisdom, and insightful leadership skills serve as a catalyst to further enrich the vision of this wonderful collaborative initiative —- an endeavor that daily brings all of our divergent resources into a common focus for the benefit of all of Hilliard É today, tomorrow, and in the future.

I have followed with interest the recent stories regarding the different approaches of Mayor Don Schonhardt and the Hilliard City Council in determining the best way to fund Destination Hilliard.

From the information presented, it is clear that the mayor (and city council members Tim Roberts and Stephanie Kunzie) are taking the more reasoned and responsible approach with a view to the long-term fiscal health of the city.

Our new governor, John Kasich, is coming into office facing an $8-billion budget deficit. It is likely that in his efforts to cut statewide spending, Hilliard will receive fewer funds from the state. In addition, recent reports indicate that the city was required to eat into reserves by more than $200,000 this past year.

Facing the possibility of cuts in state funding and lower income tax revenue (until there is a more sustained economic recovery with increased employment), it is not wise to pass legislation increasing the percentage of the bed tax that goes automatically to Destination Hilliard. Of course, Destination Hilliard has an important role to play in promoting Hilliard. However, the organization needs to gain the trust and confidence of city leaders and taxpayers before council enacts legislation automatically increasing the funding.

I would urge fiscal responsibility as demonstrated by the mayor's veto of council's recent legislation. In these economic times, the city needs to keep its eye first and foremost on the key functions of health, safety and welfare.

Destination Hilliard was created by Hilliard City Council and Mayor Schonhardt to attract, facilitate and promote conventions, events and tourism to our great community, which of course also drives revenue to our local economy.

Furthermore, a vibrant community — rich in culture, history, sports, the arts, etc. — attracts new and/or relocating businesses. This reduces the tax burden on all of us. Reallocating 25-percent of the 66 percent city hotel tax to fund Destination Hilliard's promotion budget, amounts to about $65,000 a year, or less than one-third of one-percent of the city's annual budget of $23.5 million.

Such an investment in our community with the potential for exponential returns on said investment is fiscal common sense. Or more simply put, why would Mayor Schonhardt spend $1.4-million of Hilliard taxpayer money to build the wonderful First Responders Park and then object to budgeting a small fraction of that amount (generated by visitors, not Hilliard taxpayers) to attract tourists to the park and Hilliard's other great offerings?

Let's put this Destination Hilliard debate in context. We have Destination Hilliard because the other group in charge of promoting Hilliard didn't get the job done. So we create this new organization and decide to fund it with no end date assuming it will lead to additional visitors to Hilliard.

I'm with the mayor on this one. Don Schonhardt says let's give these folks some money and see what they can produce. City council is saying let's just give them permanent funding and hope for the best. I don't think Schonhardt is being unreasonable asking council to put the horse before the cart. Given the dismal record of the Visitor and Convention Bureau, the predecessor of Destination Hilliard, it makes perfect sense to fund these folks a year at a time until they develop some kind of track record.

It's a little like hiring a lawn service and signing a lifetime contract with them. Who would do that? And why, especially, should we do that with an organization that isn't even a year old? For most of us, making a commitment is not something we do carelessly.

Here is a situation where the older, wiser head should prevail. Let's support Mayor Schonhardt on this one.

The Ohio Revised Code allows counties and cities to pass legislation to implement a bed tax for the purpose of promoting their attractions. Bed tax is a levy imposed by the local government on hotel stays within its jurisdiction. The people paying the tax are out of towners who stay in the four hotels located in Hilliard.

Cities and counties create convention and visitors bureaus to fulfill their responsibility of the bed-tax legislation of promoting their respective communities and are funded through this bed tax. Destination Hilliard was created to achieve this mission of promoting the community. The funds accumulated from bed tax collected by the four hotels in Hilliard should be used for the purpose the legislation was created to promote Hilliard, to maintain and increase the number of out of towners who visit the community.

Hilliard has an abundance of great events and attractions for visitors and residents from the Early Television Museum, the Historical Village, Rails to Trails, July 4th celebration, Old Hilliardfest and Olde Hilliard Christmas to name a few. Destination Hilliard utilizes this bed tax to fund advertising and promotion of these attractions and events held in Hilliard throughout Ohio and the contiguous states. In addition funding is utilized to promote attractions and events to residents, who are our greatest ambassadors and bring family and friends to our community. Attendance at these events and attractions are a primary sources of economic and community development.

I couldn't help but notice that at the same time Mayor Don Schonhardt's veto was being delivered, the local press also reported that the city will tap its cash reserves while it waits for the state to act on its budget. Why is it that Schonhardt is exercising common sense and some members of council are not?

No matter what you think of Schonhardt and council, Schonhardt is right on this one. It is just premature to be giving our tax dollars away when we don't know what waits around the corner. Frankly, I think Hilliard has done pretty well compared to what I am reading and hearing from my friends who live in other central Ohio communities. We have weathered the storm of this recession extremely well and are positioned to continue to be a strong and viable city into the future.

Our pools are still open in the summer, our streets are being plowed in the winter and our garbage is being hauled away. All in all, the city is looking pretty good and every once in awhile we see a new business sprouting up. It seems to me that the administration has done a pretty good job of managing things and living within the budget.

I wish some other public officials would go to school on whatever Schonhardt is doing. We need to continue to be vigilant with our taxpayer funds and not loosen the purse strings as many council people would like to see happen. It is our responsibility as Hilliard residents to be educated on what is happening in our city. Good conservative fiscal policy is the best avenue for our strong community. We must insist that city council require accountability in allocating funds to various departments and organizations. Don't spend our money without knowing where and how it is going to be spent.

Our mayor has continually fought for keeping our budget in balance, limits on spending and accountability of our tax dollars É

I wanted to comment on Mayor Schonhardt's decision to veto Destination Hilliard's funding change approved by 5 of 7 members.

There is a new Hilliard City Schools levy on tap for next May. Most residents, I am sure, think the reason why our property taxes are the highest in the county is because we have no business with which to share those expenses. We need to bring business to Hilliard now and Mr. Schonhardt apparently doesn't agree that that is important. Apparently we need a new mayor.