Friday, October 31, 2014

Council Candidate: City Should Incentivize Upkeep, Renovation of Older Homes

Adam Meier, candidate for Fort Thomas City Council, has proposed an initiative that would incentivize renovation and upkeep of Fort Thomas properties/Provided


by Adam Meier
Candidate for Fort Thomas City Council

My name is Adam Meier and I am a candidate for Fort Thomas City Council. Along with my wife and two young children, I live in a single-family home on the Avenue that we recently converted from a two-family. Doing most of the work myself, this conversion was a long and trying process, but worth it in the end. This experience was also a major contributing factor to my proposed "Pretty the City" initiative – a multi-prong approach to incentivizing renovation and upkeep on targeted property types within the city.

You see, one of the things I love about Fort Thomas is the character and charm of the old homes. But as most residents know first-hand, upkeep and renovations can be costly and time-consuming. Further, many of these beautiful old homes have been converted into multi-family rentals. Others have gone too long unattended and are now uninhabitable and/or vacant. The good news is that I have a plan to reverse those trends – and to do so in a manner that is revenue neutral to the city.

I would personally like to see more multi-family dwellings converted to single-family homes. To achieve that goal, I would propose the city offer a tax assessment moratorium, for a fixed period of years, to any multi-family property owner that converts it to a single-family home. In simple terms, the city would freeze the tax assessment at the pre-renovation value for a fixed number of years to allow the property owner to recoup some of their improvement cost. The city continues to receive taxes on the unimproved portion that it would have received anyway. And because single-family homes in Fort Thomas typically assess significantly higher per square foot than multi-families, once the moratorium ends, the city receives taxes on the higher value resulting in additional revenue for the city. Other targeted property types I would target in the abatement program are commercial properties, non-conforming properties, and properties vacant for more than one year.

As far as vacant properties are concerned, the city does not currently know the scope of the problem. It is not currently tracked, and while there are no blighted areas, the number of vacant properties is not insignificant. Vacant properties can become a nuisance, attracting and harboring wild animals or serving as a temporary hangout for kids, vandals or drug users.

What I would propose is organizing a task force to identify, track, and find ways to incentivize upkeep, renovation or sale of vacant homes to get them occupied once again. One solution is the tax moratorium described above. Other solutions would be proposed and evaluated by the collective wisdom of the task force and recommended to council.

If you like what I propose, I would appreciate your support and vote Nov. 4, and together, we'll "Pretty the City."

Adam Meier is a an attorney who lives with his wife, Laura, and two young children on South Fort Thomas Avenue.

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