|2015-2016 Fort Thomas City Council|
His "Pretty The City" idea was one of his favorites to tout. He talked about his own experience in rehabbing a multi-family home that he and his wife, Laura, were converting into a single family on S. Fort Thomas Avenue. "Doing most of the work myself, this conversion was a long and trying process, but worth it in the end," he said.
The "Pretty the City" initiative included four main points of discussion:
1) Coverting multi-family properties to single-family homes.
2) Converting non-conforming uses to conforming uses.
3) Improvements to commercial properties in excess of $20,000.
4) Improvements to vacant properties.
"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,"
said Meier in an op-ed written on FTM in October of 2014. "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."
Seven months after writing that op-ed on FTM, Meier and the Labor, Law and License Committee of Council met to discuss the "Tax Incentives for Specific Improvements to Property Types." "Meier prefers, "Pretty the City."
The Labor, Law and License Committee is comprised of Meier, and Council Members Roger Peterman and Lisa Kelly. The committee also discussed improvements to vacant properties.
"The city does not currently know the scope of the (vacant property) 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," said Meier.
City Administrative Officer, Don Martin, said that the city only knows a property has become a problem when a resident makes it known to the city.
"It's a great idea," said Councilwoman Kelly. "We'd probably want to make sure that we'd be able to get the schools on board, but even the commercial property aspect could be a good thing to help stimulate the local economy."
Councilman Peterman agreed. "(The city) just doesn't have much skin in the game as far as taxes, it would be a drop in the bucket to offer these incentives without the schools."
As of the Board of Education meeting last Monday (5-4-15), Superintendent Gene Kirchner and Board Member, Karen Allen, had not been approached on the proposal.
Meier, who said he has researched the proposal in depth, said that there are many other ancillary benefits to his program and he believes that by only including a small amount of property types so that is stays revenue neutral.
"The differences between owning and renting creates more of a sense of community. It helps with things like off-street parking and even pulling permits to do work on their homes," said Meier.
Council agreed to looking further into the program and talk about it at full council. Councilman Roger Peterman asked about giving more incentives to help lure businesses into the city, which was part three of Meier's initiative. "Should we be looking beyond (the $20,000 commercial improvement tax abatement? It seems every city is giving away strong incentives for their commercial economic development," he said.