TAX REFORM SHOULD GO BEYOND CORRUPTION ISSUE

Submitted by Roldo on Wed, 09/23/2009 - 14:38.

If there’s going to be an investigation of the integrity of commercial property appraisals here, we ought to also probe tax reductions awarded to downtown property owners by official County and State of Ohio agents.

 

County Treasurer Jim Rokakis, concerned about the validity of commercial property appraisals because of the corruption charges involving County Auditor Frank Russo, has requested a probe by state officials. Rokakis apparently doesn’t trust the values on commercial properties. Who would?

 

The values given properties, of course, provide the measure of the taxes property owner’s pay. The lower the value the lesser taxes are due to be paid.

Commercial property owners are expected to seek large reductions in property values next year. They have lawyers and ability – far greater than ordinary homeowners – to pursue reductions. This could have a serious impact on Cleveland schools and the city. Cleveland schools get the majority share of property tax revenue.

 

It will be most important for the news media, particularly the Plain Dealer, to closely follow and report request by the big property owners for reductions. The slow economy suggests that many commercial entities will seek reductions by claiming tough economic circumstances.

 

A watchful eye provides needed oversight of both public agencies and private interests.

 

In recent writings, I’ve been pointing out that owners at the Tower City complex and the Ritz-Carlton hotel – both controlled by Forest City Enterprises businesses – have been requesting value reductions this year as they have in past years.  

 

Other downtown property owners have also made appeals. Amtrust (Ohio Savings) has requested a $2.6 million reduction in its property tax valuation for 1801 East 9th Street. National City Bank’s new owners are seeking reductions of $2.97 million on its building at the corner of E. 9th & Euclid. Cleveland Catholic Diocese is even seeking a $557,940 reduction in the property value for a parking lot on Rockwell Avenue.

 

I requested information from the Board of Revision only for a portion of downtown for these reports.

 

MORE TOWER CITY TAX REDUCTIONS SOUGHT

 

Here’s another batch to add to the previous listing of requests by Tower City for reductions that I previously posted. They were all made to the Board of Revision in March. None have been acted upon to this date. The property numbers and request for reduction follow:

 

- 101-23-085C: $9,832.

- 101-23-108F: $71,952.

- 101-23-103F: $63,752.

- 101-23-101F: $105,736.

- 101-23-085D: $20,151.

- 101-23-085B: $365,889.

- 101-23-085A: $1,297,634.

- 101-23-072F: $19,925.

- 101-23-072B: $160,296.

 

The reductions total to $2,115,117 for Tower City properties. I previously reported $850,529 in tax reduction on other Tower City properties, not including one devaluation request of only $17 on a piece of Tower City property.

 

You can add reductions in value asked by Forest City interests at the luxury Ritz-Carlton hotel – recently coming off 20 years of 100 percent tax abatement - of $241,440. Yes, back on the tax rolls finally. But seeking new reductions in taxes already.

 

The grand total comes to more than $3 million in reductions requested at Tower City.

 

Yes, the beat goes on.

 

We really need – as a community and as a state – to look not only to rigged tax valuations because of outright corruption reported in recent days but to the practice of giving wealthy interests lower and lower valuations on the properties. They have access to lawyers who can pursue these deductions.

 

CLEVELAND SCHOOLS HURT MOST BY DOWNTOWN CUTS

 

These efforts result in lower taxes for big property owners and thus less revenue for our schools, counties, cities and libraries. This also means others – homeowners – have to pick up the tax burden by paying higher property taxes. Because of the concentration of properties in downtown Cleveland the reductions hurt Cleveland schools the most. Some 55 percent of property tax revenue goes to the Cleveland schools.

 

The public also should DEMAND an end to tax abatements and tax shifting of the TIF program. TIF (tax incremental financing) is a form of abatement by which the taxes are paid normally but are diverted to be used for development, usually of the taxpayer’s project. That means tax revenue goes for private uses instead of public.

 

At minimum there should be a state law that makes it illegal for one community to give a tax abatement to a business to attract that business from another community in Ohio.

 

I’ve been examining the desire of leading downtown interests for tax breaks, either through tax abatement or lowering the value of their properties for taxation.

 

The above requests for valuation reductions are nothing new for Forest City at Tower City.

 

TOWER CITY WON REDUCTIONS AS ITS OWNERS CLAIMED GAINS

 

In 1994 in negotiations over the taxes due from Tower City officials agreed to hefty market value reductions for the years 1990,  1991, 1992 and consequently 1993, by the following percentages:

In the year 1990: 21 percent; in 1991: 20 percent; in 1992: 17.3 percent and in 1993: 12.4 percent.

 

Tower City opened The Avenue shopping complex in 1990 and had two new buildings – the Skylight Tower and the Chase Financial Tower (which includes the Ritz hotel) opened in 1991. These improvements resulted in higher property values.  

 

The same week in 1994 that I reported the 1990-1993 reductions in my newsletter, Point of View, a Pee Dee story was headlined: “Tower City could add 2 anchors to complex.” The Pee Dee reported that Forest City Enterprises chairman Albert Ratner “said he hopes to add two new department stores to the Tower City complex soon.”  (Such is the nonsense of our leaders and the vigor with which the Pee Dee takes is responsibility to report honestly. Of course, Dillard’s vanished and the building remains essentially unused.)

Then at the same time, it quoted Sam Miller, advisor to mayors, that the commercial real estate industry here “is well on its way back to once again become the darling of the investment community.” (You may have noticed all the skyscrapers going up in Cleveland since 1994, haven’t you?)

“The better news is that it is going to stay back for a long time,” said Sam. (He can get the Pee Dee to report just about whatever he wants.)

Despite the then rosy economic outlook expressed of the corporate executives, the same executives were seeking reductions in property values at Tower City going back to 1990, claiming economic problems.

For the year 1990, the total market value of Tower City was $152 million (rounded off) and the reduction was $32 million, a reduction of 21 percent.

For 1991, the total market value of Tower City was $241 million and the reduction was $49 million for a reduction of 20 percent.

For the year 1992, the market value of Tower City was $262 million and the reduction was $45 million for a reduction of 17.3 percent.  

For the year 1993, the market value was $274 million and the value was adjusted by $34 million for a reduction of 17.3 percent.

 

It’s time the big boys paid their taxes just like everyone else.

 

 

 

( categories: )

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All around I hear the sound of money
But I ain't got a nickel to my name
And everywhere I look I see temptation
She stands on every corner and calls my name

Won't you tell me if you can
Cause life's so hard to understand
Why's the rich man busy dancing
While the poor man pays the band

Oh they're billing me for killing me
Lord have mercy on the working man

Uncle Sam's got his hands in my pockets
And he helps himself each time he needs a dime
Them politicians treat me like a mushroom
Cause they feed me bull and keep me in the blind

Won't you tell me if you can
Cause life's so hard to understand
Why's the rich man busy dancing
While the poor man pays the band
Oh they're billing me for killing me
Lord have mercy on the working man

Hey St. Peter look down for a minute
And see this little man about to drown
There's quicksand all around and man I'm in it
Please help me up Lord cause I'm going down

Won't you tell me if you can
Cause life's so hard to understand
Why's the rich man busy dancing
While the poor man pays the band
Oh they're billing me for killing me
Lord have mercy on the working man

Won't you tell me if you can
Cause life's so hard to understand
Why's the fat man busy dancing
While the thin man pays the band
Oh they're billing me for killing me
Lord have mercy on the working man

Please Lord have mercy on the working man
Please Lord have mercy on the working man

Board of Revision

Board of Revision structure...Rokakis' line today, " I just keep the trains running" line was a bit disingenuous...look at the structure of the Board of Revision.  For those with a short memory--Paulenske served as the downtown councilman after Frangos.  Frangos appointed him.

NOTE 6/25/2010:

This diagram was modified to remove names of actual employees after this was originally posted in September 2009.  Frangos, Paulenske were some of the names I recalled at one point. Gus Frangos, of course, now heads up the Land Bank (and no doubt collects two pensions). 

Who provides oversight to the Land Bank, especially given County Reform and appointment of a new treasurer??

BTW--Hilarious header:


 

Corruption probe continues

  I believe this aired October 1, 2009 on WOIO--see video here.
PD coverage---here.

 

Rosemary Vinci

 Rosemary Vinci's mysterious death, TWDC, the larger picture, and perhaps justice will be finally served for Frank Giglio after this investigation finally winds down.

Will it ever wind down?  The FBI invested in some fairly plush new lakefront headquarters here in NEO.  It looks like we have provided enough work to keep them busy for years and years to come.

Board of Revision

Nice PD article today...and it never ends...

Thank you to the nameless, faceless, eagle-eyed secretary.

After a secretary questioned the change, county Administrator James McCafferty said, Headen tried to re-edit the value to reflect no change.

Board of Revision

Same department that tried to steal Frank's land because he owed $184.50 in back taxes.  

BR-09-002401
Case Title: JAMES ROKAKIS, AS TREASURER vs. FRANK GIGLIO ET AL
Case Designation: BOARD OF REVISION TAX FORECLOSURE

 

Have you ever heard of a tax foreclosure based on a person owing less than $200?

Have you ever heard of the city, Councilman Joe Cimperman, et al, insisting on demolishing a historic and structurally secure home with a good roof and floors just because they could?

Have you ever heard of someone being thrown in jail with a 1.5 MILLION dollar bond for housing code violations?

Have you ever heard of the county filing a foreclosure based on the demolition fees of a home that did not deserve to be demolished, and then the city refuses to release all of the records relative to the demolition,including the demolition invoice detailing why the demolition fees are so high?

And here is one that I know you have not heard since I have only told a few trusted people.  I wrote a letter to one of the convicted inspectors in federal prison asking why Frank Giglio's home was targeted.  I never expected to hear back from the inspector, but he did write me back. I have a copy of my letter that I sent to the inspector, and I also have his return letter and envelope.

Ever hear of corruption by elected officials?

I am going to personally meet with the FBI over Giglio's case and other highly suspicious land transactions in the City of Cleveland, mostly the Tremont area that I have been researching for months.  If the FBI interviews these inspectors, they will sing like canaries.

  F U Landstealers!

$9,000 plus back taxes owed - 2250 West 7th Street - vacant

Check on a "vacant"  (house that has been vacant for many years) property located at 2250 West 7th Street.  Unless something has recently changed, this property had a tax lien filed well over a year ago - owes more than $9,000 in back taxes going back several years.  How are they pulling it off?  Is there some guideline for who gets a break and who doesn't?

This house also has major

This house also has major violations - especially inside.  I believe the city did come out and board it up a couple of years ago.  I don't know where this property owner is - I know that a reality company has been trying to sell it for a very long time.

It also has additional living quarters out back - the doors were gone off that building for years.  I was interested in buying this property until I checked with the city and found out about the back taxes and the tax lien - at the time, according to the tax dept. the owner had until Feb. - Mar. 2009 to pay the taxes.  Someone this year started trimming the bushes and cutting the weeds but there have been times that it was completely overgrown.   Just wondering why some can and some can't?

 

thanks Jerleen

:)

Arbitrary enforcement of tax lien foreclosure

  Thanks Jerleen--will the PD pick up on this story in light of the recent Board of Revision story?  I doubt it. 

Some liens magically disappear, when the right party is interested in a property.

Cuyahoga County Auditor site lists the property to Ronald Courey, 6930 Pearl Rd. Cleveland OH 44130

Penalities for board-up, weeds, failure to pay sewer rates etc. amount to $9,392.01.

SEE also:

http://realneo.us/content/denison-senior-housing-project#comment-11386

http://realneo.us/image/aberdeen-investments