I swear, I do not look for these examples. Not from day one did I set out to challenge Dusty Rhodes or find fault with the way he does his job. I just started to notice things. And then other people did too – and they started to send me tips.
Bow Tweh’s recent coverage in the Cincinnati Enquirer of the Everything But the House sale on Melody Sawyer Richardson’s possessions from her former home was the most recent catalyst. Like any good nosey-butt-in-ski, first I stopped by the online auction site to check-out the bargains. But these days when I see a sale price on an expensive home, I immediately go tothe Hamilton County Auditor’s website to check out the valuation. 16 Elmhurst Place is a beautiful home. 21 rooms. 6 bedrooms. 10,167 square feet of finished space with 9 fireplaces, 3 1/2 baths (new owner will be adding to these, I bet) and a 3 car garage on 1.278 acres with a river view. It sold to an undisclosed owner represented by trustee Peter E. Koenig at the end of last year for $3,235,000.
And the Auditor’s opinion on this property as recently as this fall’s triennial update? $2,050,420.
Dusty was only off by a little over 57%! Fifty-seven percent. Not 10%. Not 20%. A 57% difference between the actual market value in an arm’s length transaction and the value assigned by the appraisers Dusty has hired over the years.
The Hamilton County Auditor says I am “the little boy who cried wolf”? I don’t think so, Dusty – and the most troubling aspect of this situation is that the elected official with the fiduciary responsibility to ensure a fair application of existing law has never once asked what concerns me about his valuations though I have tried to start the conversation many times. The only thing he seems to care about is discrediting my qualification to question his numbers.
I’ve been stumbling across these valuation issues for the last few months, not all that long, and I certainly haven’t been analyzing the situation on any kind of scientific basis, but here are the patterns of under-valuation I’ve noticed to date:
1. Any commercial property owned by Western & Southern and the LLCs they control. 2. Residential properties over a million dollars in value. 3. Any property owned by the Lindner families or the Barrett family and their close associates. 4. All commercial property in the Central Business District, values of which have been dropping precipitously – particularly since the opening of Queen City Square.
This is far from a complete list – but it is enough to keep me going, determined that the current situation is corrected and property tax laws applied on a fair and equal basis.