wtf? was originally designed as a series of posts dedicated to holding a spotlight on the mysterious and un-explainable decisions of the Hamilton County Board of Revision – but it turns out that the entire valuation process is mysterious and un-explainable. wtf? is now about any and all things property-tax-related that make no sense whatsoever.
Last week wtf? featured John F. Barrett’s house at 9300 Shawnee Run. For a lot of people that was their first introduction to cincyopolis and a few readers thought I was being unfair in singling out Mr. Barrett. Even though my biggest problem with the Auditor’s number was the total and absolute exclusion of any value at all for the second (guest) mansion on the parcel clearly identifiable from the Auditor’s own aerial photos, that apparently didn’t bother them and instead they focused on his legal right to use farm and timber classifications to lower his tax obligations under state law. Since I certainly don’t want to imply that Mr. Barrett is unique in his puzzling treatment by the Auditor’s office, lets go back to a part of town where farming is not a factor.
The owner of this home is Robert H. Castellini. After the property was transferred into his name on December 1, 2008, the original house was demolished and replaced by a custom built home that takes full advantage of the beautiful views after which the street is named. According to the Auditor’s report, the lot is 2.6152 acres.
6 years after the property was purchased, the land value is listed as $758,050. Improvements are listed as $0. Total value for tax purposes is therefore $758,050.
Since that seemed like an awfully long time for a construction project, I drove over to the neighborhood tucked behind Summitt Country Day School just to make sure everything was OK. Sure enough, the home is finished and drop dead gorgeous with quality materials that are obviously top-of-the-line and according to their neighbors the house has been occupied for quite some time.
The only other house on the street (owned by the Margaret Lafley Trust) is valued for more than $2.3 million. But even this house experienced a mysterious drop of more than $400,000 after Mr. Castellini bought into the neighborhood. It’s weird. The owner never filed a complaint with the Board of Revision to get the valuation lowered. It just happened. Boom. A 17% drop for no good reason. This is not uncommon on properties that adjoin parcels receiving treatment that is hard to explain.
I had a house built once. And I don’t remember getting any multi-year property tax break after the certificate of occupancy was filed.