City Council Backs Off of Property Tax Increase
Mark Quarry of Board of Realtors deserves the credit!
-by Charles Tassell
The issue of property tax increases in Cincinnati has evolved into an almost annual three ring circus. The Administration’s ‘pondering elephants’ demand more money, and the Council performs a dangerous political dance on the trapezes over the issue as tax payers, and the City’s best unpaid marketers, the Realtors©, fight off the Lions of Increase. That team of Lion Fighters is led, motivated and directed by Mark Quarry, the Government Affairs Director for the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors.
This year the request was to increase from 4.6 mils to 6.1 mils on the operational levy and from 5.9 to 6.15 on the capital levy. After significant lobbying and no small amount of press, yes even the Enquirer came out with the common sense approach of “cutting the budget before increasing spending,” the operation levy was left alone, and the capital levy increased by .2 mils.
The unique nature of this fight stems from the fact that council must provide the Auditor with the millage rate by July, but doesn’t take up any other budget considerations until the end of the year; by then the millage is set, thus determining roughly a quarter of the budget that cannot be changed (increased) during budget deliberations. The failure of City Council to begin budget discussions earlier results in this annual game of chicken. In addition, the Administration’s 1st quarter dire budget predictions have become passé and are no longer considered legitimate as revenues are typically upgraded by October, not to mention the number of unexpended funds and emergency funds that always come to light.
In the spirit of fairness, we should also consider that during the past couple of years the millage set at 4.6 mils brought in roughly $28 million dollars. Due to the recession, foreclosures and the resulting decreases in housing values, the same 4.6 mils now only brings in about $20 million dollars. The increase would have pushed it back up to around $27 million. The problem, of course, is that increase would be on those still paying taxes as compared to all the properties that have been foreclosed and are no longer contributing to the City coffers. A common sense approach would have been to reduce cost and overhead by the decrease in tax receipts, as citizens and businesses across the tri-state and nation have been doing for the past several years…
Which leads us back to the Circus that occurs annually at the City Hall Big Tent over property taxes: Evidently, it took a main stage appearance of the Realtors’ Mark Quarry to organize and speak out for homeowners across the City over almost a 2 month period to tame this Tax Lion, saving remaining residents approximately $56 per $100K of value – each year. And for that, Mark Quarry is our COAST Hero of the Month!