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Senior organization wants levy renewal

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Category: Middletown City Government
Forum Name: City Income and Property Tax
Forum Description: Discuss Tax issues, current, past and upcoming.
Printed Date: Mar 28 2023 at 4:16am

Topic: Senior organization wants levy renewal
Posted By: Vivian Moon
Subject: Senior organization wants levy renewal
Date Posted: Dec 31 2016 at 10:34am

Middletown senior organization wants levy renewal

Mike Rutledge

Staff Writer

9:00 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016" rel="nofollow -

MIDDLETOWN" rel="nofollow - 3909 Central Ave.

The organization will need “yes” votes from 4 of 5 members of Middletown City Council on Tuesday to take a step toward placing the issue on the May ballot. That’s because to meet tight deadlines the issue will be placed before the council as an emergency matter, requiring more than the usual majority vote.

Central Connections serves not only senior residents, but also others who are 50 or older, and calls itself a lifeline for many in the Middletown area, keeping many of them in their homes.

It provides nearly 10,500 home-delivered meals a month to people, 84.4 percent of them in Middletown zip codes; an average of 1,094 essential trips a month (88.5 percent to people in Middletown zip codes); and independent-living help to an average of 28 clients per month, 95.4 percent of them in Middletown zip codes.

Central Connections, which provides home-delivered meals, transportation and independent-living help to older Middletown-area residents, hopes to put a tax-levy renewal on the May ballot to help pay off the mortgage on its building at 3909 Central Ave. STAFF FILE/2015 Staff Writer

Richard “Dick” Isroff, a board member, finance committee member and co-chairman of the levy committee, told council Dec. 20 the levy renewal is needed because of budget cuts that have cost the organization $450,000 in annual funding from Butler County.

“Unfortunately, through the county, we’ve lost over $450,000 worth of annual income,” Isroff said. “That $450,000 prevents us from being able to complete our goal, which was to be able to pay off our mortgage.”

About $1,260,000 remains on the mortgage, Isroff said.

“This levy will take us out of debt, pay off our mortgage, and do something that everybody needs when you have a major facility, which is create a sinking fund for future security of our building,” Isroff said. “So what we’d like today is just to ask you to let the citizens of Middletown make that decision, and ask you to let us put this on the ballot, and let us find out where the citizens stand, and how they feel about our senior citizens’ organization.”

City Manager Doug Adkins said his administration might have difficulty meeting deadlines necessary to place the matter on the May ballot. Adkins also said Middletown has some of the highest property taxes in the state.

Tax rates already high

“We’ve also talked a little bit about being the highest effective tax rate for property taxes in Ohio,” Adkins told council members. “I’m not saying that to sway your decision either way, other than the levy falling off does help us in that manner. So services versus property taxes, it’s one of those situations, I’m not sure there’s a right answer. It’s more the view of council on how they would like to move forward.”

Some council members seemed wary of renewing the five-year levy, which expires in late 2017. In Talbott Moon’s case, that’s partly because of the high tax rates, and partly because even more funding cuts from Ohio’s state government may be on the way.

In response to Adkins’ comment about Middletown’s high property-tax rates, Moon said: “Both options seem to be not great options.”

Isroff predicted: “We’ll be self-sustaining after this renewal.”

But Moon noted: “The governor has already come out and said it’s going to be another lean budget,” and added he fears “we’re going to be having the same conversation in five years.”

Isroff responded: “You have a crystal ball?”

And Moon replied: “Yeah, I don’t. I know.”

Moon also said: “I’ll say here what I said when we met privately, that whether this council decides to put it on the ballot or not, in our economic system, people vote every day with the non-profits they give to and … where they spend their dollars. That needs to be a major factor.”

A safe place

Monica Smith, executive director of Central Connections, called the center a “safe place” that connects people with the outside world and meals, and improves their quality of life by allowing them to remain in their homes.

“This is a safe place for the senior citizens of Middletown to come,” she said, adding: “We’ve grown our catering and our rentals” to raise money for services the organization provides.

“I have someone who’s here every single day for a meal,” Smith said. “This is her only hot meal — she has an aide who comes with her — and this is her only time to socialize. This is her bright spot.”

Recently, Smith said, that woman “got robbed. They came in. She had a little stash. She gets $125 in food stamps a month. And people had gone together and gotten her gift cards. They stole all her gift cards, all her cash. She came in and couldn’t pay her ($50-per-year) membership fee, and was just distraught.”

Given the circumstances, her fee was waived, and extra meals were boxed up for her.

“That’s just one story,” Smith said. “I have a gentleman who told me this is his life. His wife has passed away. This is where he comes. So that’s why the building itself is important, and people feel safe. We have adult children who drop their parents off here, and they’re here all day. And we’re not an adult daycare, but where else would these people go if they did not have the senior center to come to? And we keep them independent (and able to remain in their homes).”

“The monies that we get from the levy strictly have gone toward paying off the mortgage, and people say, ‘Well, what if you just move to another building?’” Smith said. “Well, the purpose of building this building was we outgrew the last building.”

“There are a lot of things that need to operate out of this building,” Smith said. Without a levy’s passage, “There’s a lot of different things that we will look at to try to save this building and save the things that go on in this building.”

“All we are asking is that we let the voters decide — we let the citizens of Middletown decide — and at least get it on the ballot,” Smith said.


Posted By: spiderjohn
Date Posted: Dec 31 2016 at 11:32am
IMO ballot/levy issues should never be emergencies, esp at year end.
If they didn't have it together enough to give notice---
Didn't they do the same thing last time, creating a lot of last minute drama?

All that said-- it is a nice positive place and much needed.
They don't seem to ever have enough $$ and must have over-paid for the property.

Posted By: whistlersmom
Date Posted: Dec 31 2016 at 6:21pm
"Central Connections, which provides home-delivered meals, transportation and independent-living help to older Middletown-area residents, hopes to put a tax-levy renewal on the May ballot to help pay off the mortgage on its building at 3909 Central Ave.”

We should have a nice place for seniors, but 3909 Central Ave. was overbuilt and a waste of local tax payers money. Remember that the senior building downtown (the one that council gave away and recently bought back) and all of the “home-delivered meals, transportation and independent-living help to older Middletown-area residents” was paid for by the Federal Government. The Feds are still paying for everything except the new building that was built on the backs of local taxpayers. How stupid to build and pay for a new building with local tax dollars when the Feds had paid for the old senior building with Federal money. This tax-levy would only be to pay off their overblown mortgage, not for any services for seniors. One more reason that we pay the highest property taxes in the state.
This tax-levy is just another bail-out of a city government with champagne taste and a beer budget.

Posted By: Just wondering
Date Posted: Jan 03 2017 at 4:10pm
Just a few thoughts concerning the senior levy renewal.
First:  The correct address for the Senior Center ( Central Connections ) is 3907 Central Ave, not 3909 which is the annex building in the rear.
Second: If I remember correctly the original levy was calculated to generate enough money to pay off the mortgage only in 5 years. 
Third: Can the funds be legally used for other purposes?
Fourth: Why the renewal request now?
Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Inquiring minds want to know.

Posted By: swohio75
Date Posted: Jan 05 2017 at 1:58pm
MASC purchased the former John 23rd property in 2002 --15 years ago.--at $850,000.  The main building need to be demo'ed as well as site preparation for the new structure. The new building was opened in 2007, or almost 10 years ago.   According to the article, the mortgage balance is $1,260,000.  There is approx. 5.5 acres of property not being used by the seniors that they have tried to sell for residential development--how much of paying off the mortgage was dependent on the sale of this property?  

The article mentions that $450k was lost in state funding that has kept them from being able to pay off the mortgage as anticipated.  The article failed to mention the senior center also recently lost Oaks Community Church as a tenant--would be curious to know the impact of this on operations and the next to renew the levy.

Where's the annual report for this organization that details revenue and expenses?  Where's the accountability?

There should have been a more formal presentation by the Executive Director of the center at the Council meeting versus a volunteer board member begging for the renewal.  No offense to Dick Isroff, but he looked very unprepared and it's not his place.  

A new ED was hired early in 2016.  Where was she to make the case?   

Posted By: Vivian Moon
Date Posted: Jan 09 2017 at 5:18pm
Don't forget that AK Steel gave them a million dollar grant toward the building of this new senior citizens center.

Posted By: whistlersmom
Date Posted: Apr 05 2017 at 11:59pm
The following are quotes taken directly from the Journal-News. These statements were made by Central Committee officials and/or by Smith who heads up Central Connections, our senior citizens’ services organization.

“The intent, Smith said, is to not have to go back to voters at the end of this levy. If approved, the levy will continue to cost the owner of a $100,000 home less than $30 a year, she said. It’s designed to generate roughly $662,000 each year.”

“The senior center’s original mortgage was $3.6 million, and all but a small portion for operation — $26,000 — exclusively went to pay down the mortgage. The levy will help pay down the remaining balance, an estimated $1.6 million, officials said.”

“The monies that we get from the levy strictly have gone toward paying off the mortgage,…... Smith said.”

“Central Committee officials previously said because of funding cuts they are not able to pay off the mortgage with the current five-year levy.”   (In comment to this … there are NO funding cuts applied to the levies we pay thru our property taxes. This statement makes no sense! Sooo … have the levy funds been misappropriated?

Here is a BY THE NUMBERS explanation of the levy funds:
                                                                     Original mortgage:               $3.6 million
Less mortgage payments using membership fees for 5 years               -$0.4 million approx.   
                                                              (before levy in 2012)                                   
Less funds collected from 2012 five-year levy $662,000 X 5 =              -$3.4 million
        Total remaining mortgage after five-year levy is a negative            -$0.2 million (funds in excess – mortgage paid off!)
                                                                                                                                 excess funds can be used for operations!??

If the statements about using all the levy money to pay off the mortgage are true, how can there possibly be a remaining balance of $1.6 million? OBVIOUSLY the numbers show that we are being deceived again. Another $662,000 a year for 5 years might create a slush fund too tempting to the Central Connections management to resist wasting. That is unacceptable!!!! The five-year total of $3.4 million is twice the amount of their “estimated” remaining mortgage balance.   Do you suspect the previous five-year levy funds were wasted? $1.6 million is a lot of missing funds.     

Remember that in addition to federal government funds, they receive money from the senior SERVICES levy on our property taxes that both pay for senior SERVICES, like meals on wheels, seniors transportation, etc. and are TOTALLY UNRELATED to the levy which was supposed to pay for the MORTGAGE. Funds from these two types of levies are for different purposes and should NOT have been interchangeable! A fact which apparently has been lost on the Central Connections officials.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing" Edmond Burke

Posted By: middletownscouter
Date Posted: Apr 06 2017 at 11:00am
I think your math is skewed because it doesn't appear to account for the interest charged against the mortgage balance.  I wish that the house I bought in 2005 would be paid back just what I had to borrow, as does anyone who signs a mortgage, but the truth is you pay back way more than you borrowed over the term of the loan.

Just rough estimates here because I don't have any knowledge of the loan terms or payment history since I'm in no way involved with Central Connections, but in 2007 the 30-year fixed mortgage interest rate fluctuated between 6.25% - 7.00%.  The 15-year fixed mortgage rate was between 6.00% - 6.75%.  If this levy renewal is to be the last one then a 15-year term seems likely, though they could have a 30-year that they're paying quite a bit of additional principal every month to pay off in less than the loan term to save the amount paid overall.  At 6% for $3.6 million principal on a 15-year loan, the total to be repaid to the mortgage company is roughly $5.5 million.  Less what has already been paid ($3.31 million from the levy plus the estimated $0.4 million prior to that), comes out around $1.79 million.  Fluctuations in loan terms and interest rates, or the amount paid against the mortgage prior to the original levy, or Central Connections making extra payments towards the principal, could easily result in being closer to $1.6 million still owed.

Posted By: whistlersmom
Date Posted: Apr 06 2017 at 3:33pm
Yes, the math is over simplified!    But the request by Central Connections for the original levy was represented as the AMOUNT NEEDED to PAY OFF THE MORTGAGE. That’s according to their “simplified math.” What was their original plan to pay off the mortgage? What happened to the original funds? Why was such a costly project undertaken if they had no plan to pay for it and then expected taxpayers, in the nearly bankrupt city of Middletown, to pay.

The actual remaining balance of the mortgage and the interest rate at the time of their request for help paying it off, is unclear. And what funds, from what sources, remained in their coffers? AK Steel had donated $1 million toward building costs. It’s also unclear when and how those funds were applied … before or after obtaining the mortgage.

Also the $ amount of interest charged diminishes as the principal is paid down. And interest rates have been historically low for several years. It would be IRRESPONSIBLE for Central Connections not to have refinanced at a lower rate.

So we are all at a disadvantage in trying to “do the math” because we lack access to actual figures and how financially responsible they may or may not be. It still appears that the taxpayer is paying for THEIR MISMANAGEMENT.

And finally, AGAIN, the new levy request for $3.4 million, is more than TWICE the “estimated” remaining mortgage balance of $1.6 million. That $1.6 million is 45% of the original mortgage amount. Central Connections said the remaining mortgage would be PAID OFF with the FIRST LEVY. Surely the interest can not account for a renewal levy asking for DOUBLE the $ amount of the remaining mortgage.

Senior services are still separately funded by a senior services levy (currently on our property taxes) and by Federal funds. Senior SERVICES will not be affected by the Central Connections levy renewal request.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing" Edmond Burke

Posted By: spiderjohn
Date Posted: Apr 07 2017 at 8:06am
imo Central Connections is an important community entity, however the financial wheeling and dealing from seriously over-paid purchase to current has been an incredibly inefficient managing of $$$.

Another black hole for taxpayer and donated cash.
The first levy was emergencied in hastily with sketchy details and a warning not to do so again, yet the renewal emergency approval was pretty much identical.

So--it is up to voters to decide.
We all want this asset to continue, though the $$ taken in and how it has been used might not be as promised.

Once again, our Council
didn't make the effort to ask the proper ?s and get real answers. Those up for election need to be replaced imo.

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