County earns national award for community outreach on property values

Published: Monday, June 04, 2018 @ 9:59 AM


            Montgomery County property values rose in the last triennial review. LISA POWELL / STAFF
            Lisa Powell
Montgomery County property values rose in the last triennial review. LISA POWELL / STAFF(Lisa Powell)

Higher 2017 Montgomery County property values — the biggest gains since 2005 — also meant possible property tax increases for many, prompting 7,000 calls to a hotline, 3,300 one-one-one review meetings and 2,700 formal value complaints with the Montgomery County Auditor’s Office.

But efforts by the office to help property owners through the valuation process have earned the county recognition for community outreach from the National Association of Counties (NACo).

“Our goal was to engage property owners in the property valuation process in a way that few counties do,” said Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith. “We wanted to go above and beyond to give property owners a voice in the determination of their new property values.”

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Keith’s office estimates it reached property owners on average four times each during the 2017 triennial update, which showed values rebound from one of the worst declines since the Great Depression.

RELATED: Montgomery County property values rebound from historic drop

In addition to the hotline and one-one-one meetings, the community engagement campaign involved video advertising, mailed notices and more than 50 community presentations involving dozens of county employees.

The NACo 2018 Achievement Award for community outreach the will be presented in July during the association’s annual conference in Tennessee.

Because of a revived local housing market, more than 60 percent of Montgomery County residential properties were valued higher last year than during the most recent review in 2014. The increase represented “a significant turnaround for the county,” Keith said.

Altogether, home values climbed 6 percent countywide, helping buoy a nearly $1.2 billion market gain since 2014. Property values rose or held even in all but four of Montgomery County’s 28 jurisdictions. More than half the gains came in Dayton’s southern suburbs, according to the auditor’s office.

MORE: Upset by your home’s new tax value? Here’s how to appeal in Montgomery County

“This is good news for the community as a whole as it reflects on the state of our overall economy,” Keith said when releasing results last year. “This growth is a very positive sign and indicates that we are indeed back on track.”

The gain in values countywide increased the unvoted portion of property taxes for some. The owner of a $100,000 house that increased in value 6 percent from the last review will pay about $19 a year more this year. That homeowner was paying about $306. The inside millage accounts typically for about 10 percent of an overall property tax bill, according the auditor’s office.

RELATED: Look it up: How much have property values changed in your community?

The review process began in early 2017 with a sales analysis. Final values were determined late last year.

During the 3,300 informal one-on-one parcel reviews, about 48 percent had values reduced, another 48 percent went unchanged and 4 percent increased.

While the deadline has passed for formal complaints to be filed, the Board of Revision will continue hearing those cases through the end of 2018.

MORE: Back taxes sought on 1,614 properties in Montgomery County

Montgomery County is one of 116 counties nationwide and one of just four in Ohio to receive 2018 honors.

The county is receiving three awards. In addition to the auditor’s office, the county’s Community Overdose Action Team won an award for human services. Montgomery County Development Services won in the community and economic development category for the MicroEnterprise Demonstration Grant program.

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Miamisburg to restrict cell towers for 5G mobile technology

Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 3:52 PM
Updated: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 6:46 PM


            Miamisburg is one of several area communities considering design standards to regulate the location and size of small cell antennas and facilities for the latest wireless technology system, 5G. FILE
Miamisburg is one of several area communities considering design standards to regulate the location and size of small cell antennas and facilities for the latest wireless technology system, 5G. FILE

Restrictions on small cell phone towers have been approved by Miamisburg City Council.

Limits on locations on heights for the towers are among the guidelines approved in the 5-0 vote.

The restrictions go into effect immediately, city officials said.

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Legislation regulating the 5G mobile technology facilities is an issue several area communities – Centerville, Kettering and Springboro, among them – are addressing as Ohio law allowing municipalities limited authority over their placement takes effect Aug. 1.

RELATED: Centerville taking steps to prepare for latest generation of wireless technology

Miamisburg is “creating design and siting standards” for “small cell facilities and wireless support structures,” according to the legislation. The 20-plus page document covers issues ranging from applicability, procedures, standards, locations and right of way issues.

“Unfortunately, there will likely still be small cell facilities installed in areas that are not preferable from an aesthetic perspective,” according to a memo from Miamisburg Planner Ryan Homsi. “This ordinance is meant to prevent this from happening with the tools provided to municipalities by (state law) while still allowing this new technology to be added to the community.”

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Sen. Brown makes case for drug-screening equipment for police during Dayton visit

Published: Sunday, July 15, 2018 @ 12:26 PM
Updated: Sunday, July 15, 2018 @ 12:26 PM

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, joined police in downtown Dayton on Sunday to talk about new legislation that could help put advanced drug screening devices in the hands of local officers.

Police officers across the nation may soon have access to advanced screening equipment that can identify drugs even through some packaging.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, joined police in downtown Dayton on Sunday to talk about new legislation that could help put advanced drug screening devices in the hands of local officers, protecting them from exposure to dangerous substances.

“It can save lives,” Brown said.

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The Providing Officers With Electronic Resources (POWER) act, is cosponsored by Brown and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. If passed, the bill would give police departments access to grant funding to purchase the screening devices, which can cost upward of $10,000.

Brown said the legislation was similar to the INTERDICT act, which was signed into law earlier this year. That legislation made more drug screening devices available to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

Brown said law enforcement officials reached out to him after INTERDICT was passed to see about getting access to such equipment, which Brown said quickly displays results and could help address a backlog of untested drugs in labs.

Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl said that overdose deaths were down so far in 2018, as was the police usage of Narcan, a drug that can counteract overdoses. As of June 28, 128 overdose deaths were recorded by Public Health Dayton and Montgomery County so far this year. In 2017, the total for the whole year was 566.

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Biehl said that while the trends may be down, it doesn’t mean the crisis is over. Exposure to dangerous drugs such as fentanyl is still a risk to police officers, he said, and the screening devices could help police officers.

“Difficult work is yet ahead of us,” Biehl said.

Fentanyl in particular can be dangerous to handle, and causes more deaths. According to police data, 84 percent of the people who died of overdose in Dayton in 2017 used drugs containing fentanyl or carfentanil, both powerful opioids.

Just coming in physical contact with drugs that contain fentanyl can cause on overdose: in 2017, an East Liverpool Ohio police officer suffered an overdose after he came into contact with the substance during a traffic stop.

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Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine previously warned officers against handling or even field testing fentanyl.

Officials have previously misidentified drugs, even after field testing them. In June, DeWine and a local sheriff announced they had seized what they thought was $3.4 million worth of fentanyl.

DeWine said at the time was enough fentanyl to “kill every man, woman and child in the Miami Valley.” The seized drugs later turned out to be cocaine.

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Sales tax repeal effort mounted after public hearings, passage

Published: Thursday, July 12, 2018 @ 12:26 PM
Updated: Friday, July 13, 2018 @ 1:47 PM

After winning primaries on Tuesday, Carolyn Rice, a Democrat, and Republican Doug Barry will face each other in November for an open Montgomery County Commission seat. SUBMITTED
After winning primaries on Tuesday, Carolyn Rice, a Democrat, and Republican Doug Barry will face each other in November for an open Montgomery County Commission seat. SUBMITTED

The Republican candidate for Montgomery County commissioner is now leading a referendum effort, that if successful, would place the repeal of a recent county sales tax increase on the same ballot with his name in November.

But Doug Barry’s opponent, Democrat Carolyn Rice, questions why her challenger didn’t register complaints earlier against the sales tax increase — also unopposed by major business groups — when debated in the public sphere before approved last month.

FIRST REPORT: Group wants to overturn Montgomery County sales tax increase at ballot box

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Barry says the additional 0.25 percent sales tax was pushed through without citizen support.

“The county commissioners passed this without getting a vote of the people at a time we are in a good recovery period and there’s a lot of positive things coming out of Dayton and Montgomery County,” Barry said. “We don’t want to see that stopped by an increase in sales tax.”

The original organizers handed over the petition drive to Barry, owner of BarryStaff in Dayton, who faces Rice for an open county commission seat. Rice is currently Montgomery County treasurer.

County Commissioner Dan Foley is not running for re-election and is running for an Ohio House seat.

To put the referendum on the ballot, Barry and volunteer petition circulators have until July 26 to get 14,583 signatures.

“It’s all-hands-on-deck for the next 14 days to get the signatures,” said Barry, also a Miami Twp. trustee.

RELATED: Montgomery County approves sales tax increase

Rice said Barry and others have every right to put the issue on the ballot, but said overturning the sales tax increase, set to kick in Oct. 1, would harm the county in multiple ways and lead to cuts to multiple programs including those supporting the arts, the criminal justice system and economic development funds including Economic Development/Government Equity grants that assist businesses to expand and bring jobs to the region.

The repeal effort was first led by two former Montgomery County Republican Party chairs, Greg Gantt and Rob Scott, who prepared the necessary paperwork and filed it Tuesday with the county elections board and auditor.

Rice said those working to overturn the sales tax increase remained mute during months of budget discussions, at a public informational meeting and two required public hearings.

“There was a process over a year and it was publicized and I did not see any of these individuals at those meetings,” she said. “And I know a lot of people showed up.”

MORE: Barry wins GOP county commission primary; Rice takes Democratic race

Barry, who announced his candidacy in January and won a May primary, did attend the second public hearing on June 26 — before commissioners approved the tax increase — but did not provide public comment. Nine others spoke; just one opposed the tax hike.

“As any leader in any situation, the first thing you have to do is assess,” Barry said. “I didn’t see at that point in time it was right for me to get up and talk because I was still assessing what the situation was.”

Barry had “a great opportunity to voice his concerns before a vote was taken,” Rice said.

The additional sales tax — projected to bring in $19.1 million annually — will squeeze Montgomery County businesses and drive consumers outside county lines to shop, Barry said.

“A lot of local businesses … it’s going to hurt them competitively because a lot of these programs they have running right now have been quoted at a certain price,” Barry said. “Now this is going to cost them more to do this because of the sales tax they are going to have to pay.”

Rice said representatives from the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce and the Dayton Development Coalition, the region’s major business and industry advocates, were included in a five-year strategic budget planning process that produced the plan.

“The business groups were involved, they supported it,” Rice said.

RELATED: Montgomery County faces $9M revenue loss

During the final public hearing, top leaders of the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance and the Dayton Art Institute voiced support for the tax increase as well as from the business community including Jeff Hoagland, president and CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition and a member of the county’s Five-Year Financial Advisory Committee.

Hoagland said the loss of county economic development funding — a near certain outcome without the tax increase — would put the brakes on efforts to help companies expand.

“Now is the time to not step back, but to double-down. We are really on the cusp of something great in the Dayton region,” Hoagland said. “We have to have resources available to allow them to help make decisions to stay and grow in Montgomery County.”

MORE: Is it cheaper to buy in the next county? Compare area sales tax rates.

Gantt, an attorney from Oakwood, said large business organizations such as the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce and the Dayton Development Coalition sometimes lose touch with concerns of the region’s smaller businesses.

“The difference of pennies on every product is the difference between profit and loss,” Gantt said. “And when you are in that big macro level, I don’t think you see or appreciate that sometimes.”

ELECTION 2018

As this year’s election takes shape, our reporters will bring you the news you need on local tax issues and how they will impact you.

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Miami Twp. trustees reject changes to allow new homes near Dayton Mall

Published: Tuesday, July 10, 2018 @ 4:19 PM
Updated: Wednesday, July 11, 2018 @ 7:38 AM

A plan to build 82 homes near the Dayton Mall in Miami Twp. was rejected by trustees last year in a meeting that drew nearly 40 people. A new plan is up for a vote today, July 10, 2018. NICK BLIZZARD/STAFF
A plan to build 82 homes near the Dayton Mall in Miami Twp. was rejected by trustees last year in a meeting that drew nearly 40 people. A new plan is up for a vote today, July 10, 2018. NICK BLIZZARD/STAFF

UPDATE @ 9:25 p.m.:

Miami Twp. trustees voted 2-1 Tuesday night to deny changes to move forward a plan for 81 homes near the Dayton Mall.

Largely citing traffic concerns, trustees Doug Barry and Donald Culp rejected a motion to approve a change that would have permitted the Rivendell project to go forward.

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The vote — not supported by trustee board President John Morris — came after a two-hour public hearing on the proposal by Zengel Construction and Ryan Homes.

It was the trustees’ third rejection of the housing plan by Zengel and Ryan.

“I think nothing significantly has changed” from previous proposals in addressing traffic concerns, Barry said.

RELATED: New homes plan near Dayton Mall wins commission approval

Zengel was seeking a major modification to a preliminary plan adopted in 2007 to about 31 acres just east of Ohio 741 and north of the mall.

FIRST REPORT

A revised plan to build more than 80 homes near the Dayton Mall will be considered by Miami Twp. trustees tonight.

A change that would allow the construction of about 80 homes on 31.7 acres north of mall and just east of Ohio 741 — a plan in May recommended for approval by the township zoning commission — has been requested by Zengel Construction.

Specifically, Zengel is seeking a major modification to the preliminary development plan approved in 2007 for the project, known as Rivendell.

Two previous proposals involving Ryan Homes as the developer have been rejected by Miami Twp. trustees.

The homes would average 1,600 square feet and the development would include more than 6 acres of open space, township records show.

RELATED: Miami Twp. marks 42 acres near Austin Landing

Prior efforts for similar applications were denied by the township in 2017 – one in the spring and another in the fall. The effort denied last September by township trustees had earlier won unanimous support of the zoning commission.

Trustees voted the plan down after residents of the Vienna Park subdivision built by Zengel said they feared the negative effects the development would have on traffic, worsening road conditions and drainage, among other issues.

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