Casting the first inaugural stone
As with most Americans I share the optimism of a new period in history, the presidency of Barack Obama. Mindful of the belief that we should all come together at this difficult time a singular event on inauguration day evidenced that disenchanted Republicans such as those who have written to this paper about American flags and using Obama posters as oil spill catchers are willing and waiting to pounce on any act or deed of the new president for the purpose of pursuing divisive private agendas.
The Internet was filled with ridicule of Obama’s apparent mistakes regarding the oath of office. Eager to criticize without knowing the facts, these individuals posted on the Internet information that was not correct! The Bush appointed Republican Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court could not get the oath of office correct. This was the last official act done by the Republican administration of George Bush, and in true Republican form, was mishandled by a person entrusted with possibly casting the deciding vote on major cases of our time!
Let us not forget the mishandling of Katrina, Guantanamo, illegal wars, interference with civil liberties, domestic spying, torture, hidden prison camps and illegal transnational movement of suspects, inappropriate nominations to the Supreme Court, firing of U.S. Attorneys and the looting of the federal treasury and crony appointments to sensitive government positions etc.! Be careful before you cast the first stone, you might get a boulder catapulted back at you!
451 Orchard Dr.
Tax liability increase – why?
I would like to commend Nedra Smolka of the Montgomery Auditor’s office for stepping up and addressing the concerns voiced by Mark Garner in his letter to the Editor in the Oakwood Register (Undervalued or overtaxed? Jan. 20, 2009). I have had great difficulty locating someone willing and able to share satisfactory answers to the questions I have concerning the process by which my ’08 property tax assessment is based. I, like Mr. Garner, have received a large increase in my tax liability for the ’08 year vs. the ’07 tax year (a 25 percent increase).
According to Nedra Smolka, maybe I should consider myself lucky that my tax basis property value is actually still less than what I paid for my house approximately four years ago. Specifically, the tax value is seven percent less. Lucky indeed. Also, according to Ms. Smolka, my tax basis was calculated according to a fair market analysis, and, as the Montgomery County web site indicates, every effort was made to ensure that the audit process is “fair and equitable.” It is with these two objectives in mind that I ask for an explanation for why there is such a disparity in tax basis value among comparable properties near my house. A look at the county records shows a range of change from 1.2 to over 30 percent. Many of these houses would sell for much more than mine, but are, according to the county, worth significantly less than mine. For example, the house most similar to mine sold last year for more than $30,000 more than I paid for my own four years ago. According to the county, that property is worth $14,000 less than my house. Based on the stated goals outlined by the county: “fair market value” and “fair and equitable,” I find this situation disturbing.
As pointed out in Ms. Smolka’s letter, the county has a protest procedure in place, but my concern is not addressed by that cumbersome and intimidating process. I am not necessarily interested in disputing the derived value of my property. I want to know why there is so much disparity within what is clearly the same market. With a rudimentary knowledge of how market-based value works, logic dictates that values within the same market should rise or fall together. I see no evidence that this is the case; thus, the test of “fair and equitable” is, in my opinion, not satisfied. I am either being burdened disproportionately with a tax liability relative to some other properties, or I am not receiving the benefit of tax income from those who are more “lucky” than I regarding their final property valuation.
I ask that Nedra Smolka respond in a way that explains for me (and for the many others in a similar situation) how this disparity in value can co-exist with the successful achievement of the county’s objectives. If Ms. Smolka can explain to me the process in a way that enables me to determine for myself t hat I am only being asked to pay my fair share into the tax base, this will be the last time I question the value assigned to my property. I will consider silence on this matter to be an admission that something is not right.
E. Dixon Ave.
2009 - A look at the year ahead
Happy New Year! As we begin 2009, let me highlight four community issues.
Late last year we conducted two citizen brainstorming sessions where residents commented on our existing facilities and offerings and voiced their interests in various new and improved facilities. About 40 residents attended each meeting; we received valuable input. Given the variety of opinions expressed, we were also reminded of the pending challenge, as with any major public project, in meeting everyone’s needs and wishes.
The formal process of developing the master plan is expected to begin in two or three months when we hire a professional consultant. In the meantime, we will do some in-house work with the goal of completing as much up front work as possible. We have assembled a group of Oakwood citizens with expertise in this area to assist city staff with the preliminary work. Serving on the ad hoc committee are Mike Reutschle, Joe Mitolo, Jane Voisard, Jim Alt, Lee Carpenter, Mark Graeser, Tom Thickel and Greg Lauterbach.
One of the things that we will discuss with this committee is how best to communicate with the citizens and businesses of Oakwood as we develop the plan. Equally important, we will discuss how best to engage the community in the planning process. Our success in creating a viable plan that will have community support is contingent on extensive community involvement.
Sugar Camp and Pointe Oakwood Development: In 2008 we began work on the most significant new development in Oakwood since the 1940s. The work included transforming the former NCR Sugar Camp Training Center into a professional office complex. Over the past four years, the buildings comprising about 140,000 square feet, stood empty. Now we have about 150 people working there. This includes people working for Eye Care Specialists of Ohio, Teradata and The Wellness Connection. We also have a beautiful new Synagogue. Over the next year, we hope to see additional office space occupied. Putting this existing facility back to productive use contributes significantly to our financial resources; it provides important revenue that helps us pay for our comprehensive city services, and helps us continue to avoid tax increases.
The 2008 work also included major improvements to Far Hills Avenue and site work needed to prepare land for Pointe Oakwood, our new residential area. The site work also was a precursor to construction of a new roadway to the Old River Fields. Pointe Oakwood will provide condominiums, town homes and patio homes of a style desired by many Oakwood citizens and others, yet not currently available in our city. In 2009 we expect to see the first housing units constructed.
City Finances: On Dec. 8, 2008, Oakwood City Council approved the 2009 Budget. The budget includes the resources we need to continue providing our comprehensive city services. It reflects the work efforts of your city staff, city council and 34-member citizen Budget Review Committee. Perhaps most significant is that we have not raised taxes for city services since 1991 and we will not ask for a tax increase in 2009. Furthermore, last year we dropped a property tax issue, thereby lowering Oakwood property taxes paid for city services. We have been able to forego a tax increase for 17 years and even lower taxes slightly primarily because of the estate tax revenue. Several large estates have provided major dollars to Oakwood. Although we can not count on this large revenue source forever, it certainly helps us during a time when there are so many other important public needs competing for tax dollars.
Hawthorn Hill: Since September of 2007, we have seen Hawthorn Hill open on a limited and controlled basis to the general public. The home has been carefully managed by the Wright Family Foundation and Dayton History and the public visitations have taken place without incident. Early this year we expect that the federal government will accept the home into the National Park System. This will provide the resources needed to maintain the home forever as an Oakwood treasure. Once the home is accepted, we will work very closely with the Wright Family Foundation, Dayton History and other local stakeholders to develop the operating agreement that will govern the use of the facility. The public visitations over the past year certainly provide a good model.
That’s it for now. I will continue these public communications throughout the year in an effort to keep you informed of the happenings around Oakwood. As always, City Council and I stand ready to discuss any issue in person or at public meetings if the need arises. My contact information is 298-0600 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, you can find a great deal of information at our website at www.mvcc.net/oakwood.
I wish you all the very best this year.