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Friday, March 28, 2014

Hamilton County Treasurer Dusty Rhodes Believes Tax Amendments To Be "A Formula For Failure"

In a guest column for the Cincinnati Enquirer on February 16th, Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes spoke of his concern over government subsidization, and what it could mean for the future of Hamilton County.


As the Metropolitan Sewer District seeks to comply with a federal consent decree to improve the combined sewer pollution problem, property owners are getting hit with ever-increasing sewer rates. Since 2000, the average homeowner has seen sewer rates more than triple with an average yearly increase of almost 11% which means a bill of nearly $800 a year.

Hamilton County has some of the highest real estate taxes in the nation. According to a new study by Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, Hamilton County is in the nation's top 13% and is the 6th highest in Ohio.

From 2007 - 2011, 60% of America had property tax bills less than 1%, with 37% being between 1% and 2%. In 2012, Hamilton County was at 1.76%, among the highest rates in the country.

Popular opinion seems to be calling for further government subsidization of "The Banks," Union Terminal, Music Hall, funding for the Port Authority, completing and even expanding the city streetcar, Queensgate redevelopment, Swifton transformation, the MLK interchange, the County crime lab and Brent Spence replacement. All of this in spite of the stadiums that are not paid off, the billion dollar City of Cincinnati debt, and the same municipality's hopelessly underfunded pension system.

The proposed funding for these projects is not limited to direct taxation. For example, tolls have been suggested for the bridge, "regional solutions" have been put forth as an answer for Union Terminal and Music Hall, and the business community and foundations are looked to as sources for some other items on the wish lists.

He also expresses a concern that the system is unfair with tax abatement, tax exemptions and tax increment financing (TIFs) for some (but not all) as means of gaining political favor.

Rhodes suggests the end result is: "This is fair warning that the much ballyhooed happy talk of our great success is really a thin veneer of propped up achievement hiding debt, escalating public commitments, and justified taxpayer resentment. We are starting to resemble a Potemkin village. While "The Banks" gets built and Over the Rhine gets revitalized, many neighborhoods and communities are in decline. Just drive a car on our streets and you'll feel the deterioration. The truth is that happy days are not here again and the exodus of the middle class from our County is advancing. Our future? At this rate, think Detroit."

In his article he also made the comment, "The very system of property taxation has grown so complicated that teams of skilled practitioners have a devil of a time trying to administer it."

At Lexur Appraisal, we do our best to stay up to the minute with changing property taxes, to better meet all of your appraisal needs. If you have any questions, or if you are due for a property appraisal, don't hesitate to contact us: info@lexurappraisal.com or sales@lexurappraisal.com.

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