Friday, March 7, 2003

Realtors protest Butler tax plan

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON - About 25 Realtors turned out Thursday to object to a proposed increase in property transfer fees in Butler County.

The county commissioners are touting this as the least painful way to raise enough revenue to make up for state funding cuts and the sluggish economy.

But Realtors say it places an unfair financial burden on home sellers and buyers and will wind up draining the economy.

"The home industry is struggling," Carol Atkinson, manager of Star One Realtors' office in Fairfield, said at the first public hearing for this proposed fee. "There's no room for homeowners to take additional hits."

"It's clearly an onerous tax," said Eugene Snavley, chief executive officer of the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors. "You're penalizing a small slice of the population."

The commissioners won't vote on the fee increase until after a second public hearing at 9:30 a.m. Monday at the Government Services Center, 315 High St., Hamilton.

Raising the property transfer fee would produce about $900,000 in additional annual revenue for the county general fund and $150,000 a year more for county's park district.

Under this proposal, the property transfer fee for a $200,000 house would jump from $2.30 per $1,000 of valuation ($460) to $3 per $1,000, or $600.

MetroParks of Butler County would use the additional revenue to pay for the development of a 200-acre park on the old Voice of America property in West Chester Township, for improvements to existing parks and for the purchase of more land.

MetroParks officials say that property transfer revenue is the best available option for generating money for parks.

A park levy would have no chance of passing in today's anti-tax atmosphere, said Greg Amend, a MetroParks Board member.

"Commissioner Mike Fox said Butler has few options for raising taxes.


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