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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Old News You May Have Missed



I picked up an old issue of Cincy magazine recently.  Yes, I said Cincy Magazine and not Cincinnati Magazine although their focus is not really that different.  I was picking through the pile of magazines that we receive throughout the year and found an issue on 'Rating the Burbs' that ranks the top 43 communities in the Cincinnati area.

Going into the issue I assumed that Fort Thomas would be rated highly but was surprised to see that not only did we not make the top 20 but was just rated among the remaining communities in alphabetical order.  The magazine focuses on schools, safety, housing, and taxes.  All of which I would have expected a strong performance (with the possible exception of taxes).  But there were some interesting stats that would indicate that Fort Thomas belongs outside the top 20 at least according to this criteria.

Fort Thomas rated 20th in the first category, safety.  Safety focuses on statistics related to property such as burglary, theft, and auto theft as well as violent crimes and looks at ratios of population.  Surprisingly, assault and theft are high compared to other communities in the area.

Safety includes a chart on Fire / EMS response times - this wasn't included in the safety rankings but I noticed that Fort Thomas was inexplicably excluded from the table.  I was curious to find statistics related to the Fort Thomas response times and found the following report from March 2009 using 2008 data that was compiled by the Fort Thomas Fire Department.  The report indicates that the average response time is 5 minutes and 4 seconds.  This is nearly an entire minute below the 'national gold standard' but higher than many of the communities listed in the graph which has Mariemont listed as the lead response time of 1 minute and 50 seconds.

The second category is public schools.  Again, I was going into this category thinking Fort Thomas had to be near the top on this listing.  I could count on only 1 hand the number of schools in the Cincinnati area that could possibly be better than Fort Thomas.  According to this ranking though you would need 2 hands to count the school systems.  Some of the surprises were Forest Hills and Milford.

Clearly safety and education didn't put us outside the top 20 - then you may be asking yourself what other criteria did we lose out for.  It was primarily in economic / livability measures:
  • 4 year change in median home prices were 8.2% which was respectable
  • Homes owner occupied was 69.1% - among the lowest of all communities
  • Average commute of over 20 minutes was surprising given the close proximity to downtown (the major jobs center of the area) but I drive an average of 21 minutes to and from work each day on the east side of town so I fit the mold.
  • Property tax / $100,000 of $1,570
What other measures would you include that separate Fort Thomas from other communities in the Cincinnati area?

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for some of the highlights. It would be useful to see the entire rank-by-neighborhod chart or table. Could you post a link for this, please?

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  2. Here is the link to the actual rankings: http://www.cincymagazine.com/media/mediamanager/RatingTheBurbs2009.pdf

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  3. I would have to say that is a pretty biased list. Where they come up with the school rankings is bizarre. If you go based on SAT/ACT scores, % of students that take the tests, % that go on to college, number of advanced placement courses offered, Fort Thomas has to be at the top of the list. As you said, the travel times are also almost all the same, yet I have a 5-10 minute drive to downtown and I work with people that live in West Chester and spend regularly over an hour. The crime rating for our community on many other online rating scales is very low. The high crime rate may have been on...well... a bad year.

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