Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Butler County increases tax

Property transfer rate goes up to 3 mills

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON - Despite staunch opposition from real estate agents, Butler County commissioners decided Monday to raise the tax for property transfers to fill an $800,000 hole in the county general fund and to pay for a major park development.

By a 2-1 vote, commissioners raised the property transfer tax from 2.3 mills to 3 mills, the same level as Hamilton, Warren and Clermont counties.

The transfer tax hike will take effect in 30 days.That means the seller of a $200,000 house will pay a property transfer tax of $600 instead of $460.

With the state expected to make further funding cuts to counties this year, commissioners warned that more county tax increases may be on the horizon.

If necessary, they said, they will consider enacting a sales tax increase.

"We won't know what the further state cuts will be until July," Commissioner Mike Fox said. "If those cuts cause us to cut services, we may have to increase the sales tax."

Fox and Commissioner Courtney Combs voted for the property transfer tax increase, while Commissioner Chuck Furmon voted against it.

Furmon sided with the Realtors, who have vigorously opposed the tax hike.

The Realtors think the tax unfairly burdens a small sector of the population and will hinder property sales.

"Everybody's going to benefit from the tax, so let's have everybody pay," said Ross Hughes, president-elect of the Hamilton-Fairfield Board of Realtors. "Don't pick on a small segment. It's a political, expedient thing to do."

He asked commissioners to postpone their vote on the transfer tax until July, when they know how much deeper state funding cuts will be. But Fox said the county general fund needs money now.

"We have an $800,000 hole in our budget, and we're going to plug it."

Commissioners also designated 0.4 mills, or $600,000 a year, of the transfer tax to go to MetroParks.

The 0.4-mill tax for the parks runs for 10 years and replaces a five-year 0.3-mill property transfer tax for the parks that had been in effect since 1999. The additional revenue would pay for the development of a 200-acre park at Voice of America Park in West Chester Township, for improvements to existing parks and for the purchase of more land.

E-mail skemme@enquirer.com

A guide to Colerain Township
Colerain town meeting tonight

Accord to clear 132 liens on Erpenbeck homes
Church worker indicted in theft of $210,000
Booth to resign council
Military families wait, worry
Stadium mistakes not repeated

How much detail about Elizabeth do we need?

NAACP aims to get blacks to polls
Foster dad jailed, baby critical
UC Varsity Village gets $10M from Fifth Third
Cookie girl helps starving Africans
Women's City Club aims to raise questions
Students greet Chabot with war questions
Councilmen want panel to monitor city audit

Airport extends flight-pattern test
Tristate A.M. Report
Good News: Cincinnatian helps in African vaccinations

Horses found ill or dead
Butler County increases tax

Church vandalism suspect in custody

Ohio Moments: Abolitionist founded free church
Public systems turn to online charter schools

N.Ky health workers get smallpox shot
Councilman charged in Internet sex sting
Boone to move 200 students
Peace Rules among early Derby favorites
Around the Commonwealth
Ky. Congrats
Public agency data vulnerable
Kentucky burgoo: Don't ask, just eat
Fletcher first on TV in Republican race

Woman pulls man from car