John Kasich. This is the most important election weve ever had, he said. Weve got to get people out to vote. Joseph Cousino, the business manager of IBEW Local 8; Ray Wood, president of United Auto Workers Local 14; and Catherine Hernandez, the recording secretary for Toledo Federation of Teachers Local 250, all spoke in fervent support of Mr. FitzGerald. Union members stood to clap and shout their appreciation as Mr. FitzGerald stood to speak. He said he knew the issues on the minds of attendees. People know the economy is not working for them. Fifty percent of people in the state are living paycheck to paycheck, he said. He told his audience that there are two types of government. One type, to which he said Governor Kasich belongs, believes it is their job to shovel money to people who are already the wealthiest people in the state. The other type, the type he said he supports, believes that the government ought to support average working-class families and middle-class families. He said the current government has consistently worked against working- class people, starting with Senate Bill 5, the 2011 law that would have limited the collective bargaining rights of public employees. He then asked union members for help. I need you to have conversations with your friends, families, and co-workers, he said. If people knew what was at stake, the election would not even be close. Kathleen Ashcraft Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent.
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The council approved the incentive package in principle earlier this year. "January was the authorization for the mayor to continue negotiations (with Alumni Development)," said City Attorney Glenda Webb. "Negotiations are completing and we are moving to execution." Once completed, the retail development is projected to create up 500 new jobs, at least $37.2 million in annual sales taxes, up to $120,000 in new yearly business license fees and generate property taxes of more than $160,000, which will increase each year for the next three decades. Of the $16.57 million in city-based incentives, City Hall will rebate to Alumni Development 78 percent of the sales taxes generated from the six anchor stores it plans to bring over 15 years or for a total of $9.8 million, whichever milestone comes first. Additionally, the city will rebate property taxes from the project for the next 30 years or for a total of $6.77 million, whichever comes first. The agreement also contains stipulations requiring Alumni Development to use a certain percentage of developers from the Tuscaloosa and Tuscaloosa County area along with disincentives should an existing Tuscaloosa retailer relocate to the new shopping center, thereby eliminating some of the new sales tax generation. Property taxes for city schools, which will not be affected by the incentive package, are estimated to reach $430,000 a year, or $12.9 million over a 30-year span. The incentives were based on data and information compiled by Retail Strategies, a Birmingham-based consulting firm that performs market research, analysis, strategic planning and retail recruitment services for cities across the country. Retail Strategies has been contracted by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama to assist in its economic recruitment efforts and Robert Jolly, principal for Retail Strategies, presented an in-depth report to the City Council's Finance Committee last year that indicated there was a significant retail spending shortfall known in market terms as a "gap" in the Tuscaloosa area. Using data compiled from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census and estimates from the developer and its own internal resources, the retail gap for the types of stores Alumni Development is proposing to bring to the Tuscaloosa market totals at least $276.9 million, Jolly said. But if the development is complete, the shopping center could offset this retail shortfall by $49.6 to $67.2 million. "All of us have a vested interest in Tuscaloosa in one way or the other," Owens said of his Alumni Development partners. "This will keep people from having to go outside the Tuscaloosa city limits and allows them to spend money in town without having to travel long distances. "It keeps that money in the market." Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved.
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