Getting property taxation right

Why isn't the purchase price the permanent valuation for the length of time you own it?

Only in Dayton is the $10K house a reality

Are you your neighbors keeper?

Every week I look at the listings of homes sold in Montgomery County and marvel, because only in Dayton can you buy a home for less than the price of a nice used car.

This doesn’t happen in surrounding communities (other than the depressed ones- Jefferson, Trotwood) . Do you wonder why?

It’s all supply and demand would be the perfect capitalists answer. But, what drives demand?

In real estate 101 they say “location, location, location” – and people choose communities based on the schools. And to some extent this is also correct. Yet, my house, bought for $14,500 in 1986 is worth close to 10x that, and a slightly larger home 2 doors down, just went for the same amount 7 years ago. It shouldn’t have sold that low, but it was a foreclosure. And, my property value dropped- not just because the price was low, but because of the cancer that moved in.

Four doors down, a house sold for $95K 3 years ago. The new couple put at least $40K into it before splitting. It sold in a day- price unknown, but for well over $125K. And my property values are sure to go up.

Yet, I didn’t change locations, and my schools still suck. My investments in my house shouldn’t penalize me with higher taxes anymore than what my neighbors do. The value will come to me, and to the community, when I sell.

How and why do the actions of others affect my property values? If I own a share of stock in 3M, does my value go up just because Apple had a great year? No. Yes, if I go to sell my car, and someone else paid X for a similar car- that’s the price- but, I’m not selling my home, I just want to live here. Why should my value change until I do something?

Simple answer- it shouldn’t. And, this constant re-valuation of real estate based on the actions of others is causing gentrification, housing bubbles, foreclosures, and a mangled economy.

The purchase price of an owner occupied home shouldn’t change until the house is sold. The same should be said of rental property. When the government steps in and raises your property value for taxation purposes, they become an uncontrollable variable in a business equation. They distort markets. They screw existing businesses and property owners when they offer tax abatement to the new guy, while the long term investor gets shafted.

And, it’s almost counterproductive to do improvements to your property, if the tax man is just going to charge you more. But, what could be worse? Your neighbor doing improvements.

Case study: Dr. Michael Ervin, shadow mayor of Dayton before he left town for Scottsdale AZ, bought a dump of a bar in the Oregon District and poured $1.6M into it. This skewed the valuation tables for his neighbors, who were thankful the bar left, but were asked to pay more for Dr. Mike’s excess. Some, couldn’t pay the additional taxes and were forced to sell or move. Others might have spent more on a crappy house, because Dr. Mike did what he did. The market skewed. But, 10 years later, when it came time to sell, Dr. Mike got less than half his money back on his taj mahal. Yes, it’s still double the value of any of the other single family homes- and still skews things, but, the only person paying the tax on the new market rate evaluation- $725K , should be the new owner. Just as the neighbors who never left, shouldn’t have been forced to pay more when the $1.6 boondoggle went in.

The reason we pay property taxes is supposedly to support public infrastructure and government to keep our investments safe. Income taxes are supposedly a more progressive tax that are supposed to be based on ability to pay. When property taxes unfairly start to penalize people for making a long-term investment that they hoped to keep- it’s wildly unfair, un-American.

The fact that almost every office building downtown has been foreclosed on, while tenants have moved to fairer pastures funded in part by tax dollars- with more advantageous tax structures (both income and property tax) like Austin Landing is proof positive that our property taxation and income taxation hodge podge is causing more problems than it’s helping.

The value of the Kettering Tower, once the premier office space in Dayton, was decimated by Dayton’s high income tax (now 2.5%) and property taxes based on market forces beyond the owners control. Would Austin Landing have looked so good, without the huge investment in infrastructure by the county, or the income tax free zone for white collar workers (while the retail underclass pays 2%)? Probably not.

It’s time to realize that tax policy and abatement has serious consequences to the entire region, and we need to find a way to level the playing field and stop letting the choices others make, affect our tax rates.

Regional tax policy, from property to income tax, needs to be set and managed at the county level, and by fair market forces, for all of us to live within our means, and to stop changing the playing field in the middle of the game.

 

Sneak peaks and sexy eats at Dayton’s next downtown grocery

Eclectic kitchen with a rooster on hand

Chip Kennedy is crazy. But, so were the Wright Brothers. He thinks he can create a downtown mecca of food from all parts of the world, in a space that’s even smaller than the Oakwood Dororthy Lane Market, and do it with style.

Getting ready for the pop-up dinner

Tomorrow, Oct. 1st, from 2 to 8, he’s teaming up with another crazy person, Chef Anne Kearney, formerly of Rue Dumaine, who will do a pop-up cash only dinner to rock your socks- while you wander around what will be “District Provisions” – a place where foodies will think they’ve died and gone to heaven and interior designers will say “damn, I wish I has his style.”

Kennedy has a vision of a place, more like Cleveland’s West Side Market than a traditional grocery, with different shops from different parts of the world- in what could only be called a curated walk through the continents. The last thing Dayton had that resembled this was the arcade, when you could still go in and buy fresh seafood, fruits, baked goods- before the City tried their hand at turning it into a mall with a fancy glass roof. The location is the old Dietz Block building, also known as the Norman Miller Furniture building at 531 Wayne Ave, behind Wheat Penney and catty-corner to Eastway. Currently, the only business operating out of there is Crafted and Cured, which has beers on tap and meats and cheeses for a charcuterie (a new hipster experience).

Copper pots ready for a special meal

Next up will be the Mediterranean section, with a wood fired copper kettle of an oven, an oyster bar, a butcher shop, deli, bakery retail outlet and then produce and candy. After that, an Asian and Hispanic areas. How the mechanics of these mini-foodlands will work is still a mystery to be solved, but, the aesthetics of the place will have you falling in love.

The copper wood fired oven of District Provisions

The copper wood fired oven of District Provisions

While the grocery co-op on the near West side is still in fundraising mode, Chip has been busting his butt and using his own money to build his dream, without help from all the “economic development geniuses” we’ve got on the payroll in Dayton. They aren’t spending half-a-million to build him a parking lot, they aren’t giving him huge tax abatement or job creation credit. And that’s too bad, because the kind of business he’s creating is the kind that makes Dayton a more interesting place to “live, work, play” and keeps one of Dayton’s beautiful old buildings- in use and alive.

The scale for the deli of District Provisions

While District Provisions won’t be for everyone, it will be a reason to come and spend money downtown, and experience something unavailable in the ‘burbs. It also has the ability to be a place where new urbanites can meet and mingle – while engaged in shopping for necessities, something that has become harder and harder to do anywhere downtown- other than the 2nd Street Market which is only open for a smidgen of time a few days a week.

Jack Lukey’s oyster and Caviar bar

For new residents of the Wheelhouse, or the Delco Lofts, Water Street or the Charlie Simms projects, this will help remind them that their investment is safe. Access to buying food without feeling like you are in a depressed area will stop them from getting depressed (yes, Wayne Avenue Kroger is nicer, but it still has the lighting of a dollar store, and the only parking lot that could host the soapbox derby).

While I look forward to District Provisions, and even more so to the pop-up dinner tomorrow, I want to say that I don’t fall into the total trap of “there aren’t any supermarkets in Dayton” – because there are – they’re just not the suburban style ones. In my neighborhood, we have the awesome Halal International Grocery, there is Dot’s by the Kettering border that has awesome meat, you’ve got a few Hispanic markets on Troy St and E. Third, and then there are a few independent grocery stores on Gettysburg, James H. McGee, Save-a-lot’s on Wilmington, and Linden etc.

For those going to the Pop-up-

Fresh organic tomatoes for Chef Anne Kearney

a few items from the cash only menu:

  • Pernod opoached Blue Point Oysters, leeks, spinach, tarragon, AWS bacon, creme $12
  • Belgian endive, Honeycrisp apple, bleu cheese, walnut salad, Banyuls vinaigrette $9
  • Fire-roasted Scottish salmon, butternut squash, leek ragout, Jamestown pea shoots, parsley garlic pistou $24
  • Sherry braised pork, YAYA grits, fire-roasted shiitakes $22
  • Steak Frites, grilled hanger steak, pommes frites, truffle beurre, aioli $23
  • Bickelcreek Farm rhubarb & raspberry crumble cake $7

Chef Anne is using as many locally grown ingredients as possible. Again- cash only.

In an age of inequity- build a bigger palace

My facebook feed is full of photos of “The Main Event” – the semi-black tie party to show off the new Main Library downtown. Tickets sold out and were $150 each.

The sad thing is, this is probably the first time many of the party goers had been to the main library. For some, it may also be their last visit.

When I was a kid- visiting the library with my parents was at least a weekly event. In high school, it was a several times a week thing- not to socialize, but to do research to complete homework. It was the only game in town.

Now, I can’t imagine trying to do research in a library that would be more complete than what I can do from home. Any library worth its salt has digitized its assets, or is in the process of doing so.  Libraries now are more social spaces, bars for people who drink from the well of knowledge. To this extent, a grand palace isn’t necessary- need proof- I’ve learned lots at Pecha Kucha events in empty warehouses, on city streets and in really old buildings.

What is needed is access to information- not just through the library, but through all public records. Many of which are stored in ways as to actually hinder access. Need proof- go to the Montgomery County Board of Elections site and try to look up campaign finance reports. Now- try to do it with screen reader software as if you are blind. #FAIL (Proper structure would have you type in, or select from a drop down- with candidates name, or office, or election cycle- to filter the results, all results would be in a digital format that is ADA compliant.) To expand on the access to information theme- this week, Steve Balmer, former CEO of Microsoft, launched his new government data site to show where the money comes from and where it goes- www.usafacts.org – and without the internet, none of this would be possible.

The thing about libraries is they aren’t open 24/7/365- the internet- is always open.

Dayton is a city that has a real digital divide. Many in this community have to rely on a library to have internet access. For that- the grand palace is overkill. What would be better is small internet rooms sprinkled across the community- with librarians assisting the people in their search for jobs, benefits, training, etc. Or better yet- universal wifi. It’s been done in entire countries, so just covering the areas where people can’t afford it shouldn’t be too difficult.

When I posted the beginning of this post on Facebook, the responses were immediate and from both extremes. Some pissed about the palace, some defending libraries as the most important asset a community has- but, all missed the point about a palace having a party for the privileged while the hoi poloi looks in from the outside.

And of course, there were grumblings of the library serving as a homeless shelter as well.

Of course, what’s not mentioned: Dayton Public Schools barely has librarians or libraries left in their buildings. And, for the last four weeks- Miami Valley Hospital psychiatric ward is half closed thanks to a patient destroying the sprinklers- which may not seem connected until you realize that yes, the library is a place where the mentally ill find refuge.

There was also a question of when was the last time I was in the library- to which the answer is last week. Of course, it was getting a movie for mom, who along with Dad, were weekly visitors until the beginning of last year.

While Abe Lincoln was quoted as saying “All I have learned, I learned from books” – there are infinitely more things one can learn from the Internet. Sure, books are there, but so are tutorials, videos, podcasts, communities and more. Access to libraries can only get you so far- access to the Internet is even more empowering.

In a community where kids are given chrome books in school, but can’t take them home for fear of damage, where you have to sign up for a virtual school to be eligible for free internet access, where food insecurity, as well as extreme poverty still exists, I wonder how much less library we could have had to make access to information ubiquitous and free?

That would be something to have a party for.

 

The Narcan® roundabout

In this Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016 photo released by the East Liverpool Police Department, a young child sits in a vehicle behind his mother and a man, both of whom are unconscious from a drug overdose, in East Liverpool, Ohio. Drug overdoses killed a record 3,050 people in Ohio last year. AP Photo.

In this Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016 photo released by the East Liverpool Police Department, a young child sits in a vehicle behind his mother and a man, both of whom are unconscious from a drug overdose, in East Liverpool, Ohio. Drug overdoses killed a record 3,050 people in Ohio last year. AP Photo.

A small business I work with has had the Dayton Fire Department stop by almost every other day- because someone OD’d in their parking lot. The other day it was a city employee. The medics revealed that when they looked him up- they found out that he had been treated the day before as well. If a Narcan® revival was a frequent flyer bonus, we’d have people with miles to go to the moon and back.

Current practice is to revive them, offer treatment, which they refuse and let them go right back to using.

That would classify it as insanity- doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
I wrote a post about Narcan, coincidentally, 2 years ago to the day: “Just say no to naloxone” I was chastised in comments. And in the two years, we’ve just seen massive increases in overdose deaths- turning Dayton into the Heroin epidemic epicenter of the nation.
Two friends of mine, who are former journalists (the real kind- no longer employed by the Dayton Daily news) went out on an assignment from a foreign publication to do a story about the heroin problem. Within 30 minutes, they’d taken a photo of a roadside sign offering treatment- and followed a DPD ambulance to an OD victim in a parking lot of the U-haul franchise. Photos, story- the works- easy peasy.
In my last piece I spelled out the societal costs of heroin and overdoses- and they still apply. The drain on resources puts your life in danger- while the paramedics are out dealing with a self-inflicted wound- you might have to wait for a ride while you are having a stroke or heart attack.
Save and release ain’t working.
It’s time to change the way we do things. The first time you qualify for a trip back from death, you are taken to clinic where you are held for four hours, where you have to watch a video explaining the new practices and procedures on Narcan- and given a chance to enroll in a treatment program, offering methadone, Suboxone, Naltrexone, Vivitrol etc.
You are also informed that the next time you need to be revived, you will spend 24 hours in the center. There will be round the clock counseling available, but, you won’t be receiving any medications that aren’t prescribed as part of a doctor supervised program.
Third visit, you’ll spend 3 days in the center. Fourth visit, a full week. Fifth visit, a month. At the end of the month, you will have an option to voluntarily stay in a highly supervised treatment program for up to a year, or walk.
Unfortunately, after the fifth visit, you will no longer be revived by safety personnel. If you are unidentifiable as a five time loser, and are being treated for the sixth time, you will face a mandatory 1 year mental health incarceration. This isn’t in a prison, but a secure treatment facility. There are no options for appeal, or release. If you are identifiable by the medics, treatment will not be administered.
Drivers licenses or state ID’s will be “punched” with each treatment- as reminders and for medical personnel to check.
Right now, we are kidding ourselves if we think we can arrest suppliers and take enough drugs off the street to solve the problem. All the posturing of law enforcement is an insult to our intelligence. Heroin addiction isn’t a criminal problem- it’s a mental health one. Yet it does cause massive increases in crime and threats to public safety.
What we can do is seize all assets of anyone caught with what we would identify as quantities to distribute- and use the proceeds to fund the treatment programs.
Of course, the other option is to stop kidding ourselves, and just start providing addicts with safe, inexpensive heroin and take the profit motive out- and give people who want to stay high permission- no judgements. This has been done in other countries and has cut crime and deaths considerably. There are people who are able to function in society while high- this is nothing new- my paternal grandfather was a PhD MD and a morphine addict his entire adult life.
If you have any better ideas, feel free to leave them in comments.
It’s time to stop the insanity cycle of save and release in Dayton Ohio- it’s not working.

There ain’t no “F” in Dayton: Time for DPS to get serious

Leaders are able to communicate a vision of a desirable future. They don’t do all the work- they just point the way.

Dayton Public Schools and the Dayton Board of Education haven’t ever been able to tell the story of why you should send your kids to their schools. You know, the ones with the big fat “F” is every category (except for the one time A in annual yearly progress- which is pretty easy when you are on the bottom.).

The board president believes that the one-to-one computer initiative and computer guided learning is the answer, but, just passing tests, day in and day out, isn’t what school should be.

The new superintendent thinks that changing personnel is part of the solution- never mind the fact that we’ve been losing about 20% of our staff every year.

The community just passed a tax levy to support “the pre-school promise”- as if pre-school is the golden ticket.

We’ve got bigger problems than pre-school in Dayton. Back on Valentines day 2015, I posted A plan for the Dayton Public Schools and it garnered a whole 21 comments (most from the regulars). It had many of the same ideas that are in this video, but, the reality is- half the people read, and half watch TV.

So, here is a video, to show the feeble minded un-marketers at DPS how you effectively tell a story about a vision of what could be (if we were doing the work for them- it would have a different slant- but, since they refuse to hire people who can actually market them- T.F.B.).

Please share. Please discuss. Please do something other than the same old half-baked solutions- because, we’re running out of time for Dayton.