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Middletown-High Taxes-Low Values

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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: Jun 24 2024 at 4:26pm

Topic: Middletown-High Taxes-Low Values
Posted By: VietVet
Subject: Middletown-High Taxes-Low Values
Date Posted: Apr 28 2017 at 2:46pm
Article in the Journal about the city now wanting to do something about Middletown having the highest taxes in Butler County but the lowest property values.

How can property that is worth less be taxed the most? No logic to this at all.

Adkins acknowledged this will be something that not everyone will like. In addition to starting the discussion about the housing stock at council’s May 2 meeting, Adkins said he would be meeting with community organizations, landlords, civic clubs and ministers to discuss this issue over the next several months

How about the residential property owners? Are we included? More of us than the groups listed above.

“The numbers are absolutely staggering,” Adkins said.

“We need to make changes to get lower effective tax rates,” Adkins said.

Funny, the city didn't seem concerned when they increased the city income tax rate or drain the residents wallet any way they can to gain more revenue for the city.

I like this comment:

Rick Fishbaugh, a local retired developer said raising property values is “a definite challenge.”

“The problem is trying to attract people to Middletown,” he said. “We have the highest effective tax rates and the lowest performing schools. It’s almost limiting the market to single family people and senior citizens. We’re not getting young families into new homes.”

"Lowest performing schools?" Funny. When I brought that to the attention of Stevie Price, the former superintendent, who they fired by the way, I got a response of denial from him saying "well I don't see it that way!!!" Not suppose to mention the reality of the situation about the schools Mr. Fishbaugh. The school people don't like the suggestion they are producing failing students in their failing school system. All is well if you talk to them and their blind supporters.

"Getting new families into new homes?"

A lot working against that. The heroin issue. The poverty perception of the city. The excessive HUD housing. The crime increase. The lack of decent paying job opportunities. The lack of choices in shopping. Entertainment starved. Not just a housing stock issue. You can buy a nice house in this town in a nice neighborhood for $175 thou that would go for $300 thou in Mason, Springboro or West Chester. Upscale families can get a good deal in this city but they don't want to locate here because of the image and reputation of the city which is hardly upscale and the type of city a so-called "professional" wants to live in. You are never going to attract the upscale family people here until you lessen the crime, get rid of the overwhelming heroin/druggie type people, the prostitutes downtown, the excessive HUD housing, get some decent entertainment in here and clean the place up to where the town is respectable again like it use to be. The city direction and focus the last four decades has "ghettoed up the city" and has been the laughing stock of the region under the pathetic leadership we have had. the city has gone from "hilljack" status to "druggie/low life" status over the years. Many of the people with class and respectability have left or died and have taken the upscale image with them. Money does not flow anymore here since the paper mills shut down and Armco/AK Steel went from 9000 employees to 2400 now......and nothing replaced the decent paying jobs lost.

“If the schools turnaround, we have a chance,” Fishbaugh said. “If not, new home building is going to be limited

Then bank on limited building because the school people don't want to turn the schools around or they would have done it years ago with the first indication of failure in the proficiency testing when it began.

While residents are generous in passing various tax levies and bond issues, he said at some point that cannot go on. Fishbaugh also said City Council needs to be watchful about granting tax abatements

We residents have been tapped out for years Mr. Fishbaugh and City Council will not change their stripes. Business as usual from them. Too ignorant to change for the better.

Middletown: $2,616
• West Chester Twp.: $2,413

Paying more taxes for a comparable home than West Chester. Incredible that this has been allowed to happen. City leadership/Butler County Auditor.....asleep at the wheel again and are solely to blame. How can West Chester be paying lower taxes than Middletown?

I'm so proud of my hometown and what it has become. Recall 'em all. Let's start over.

Posted By: Analytical
Date Posted: Apr 28 2017 at 5:46pm
For far too many years, applicable senior city staff and city councils have been/are indifferent in fostering a "Working Partnership" with relevant private sector housing entities plus neighborhood stakeholders in:

1)  thoroughly analyzing citywide housing market problems and opportunities;
2)  reviewing cost-effective and practical housing solutions undertaken successfully by other cities nationwide;
3)  developing policies, procedures and plans to best utilize public funds to leverage private sector housing capital;
4)  targeting CDBG and HOME Program funds to help rehabilitate older housing, promote infill housing, etc.; and,
5)  increasing the percentage of owner-occupied homes through aggressive first-time purchaser marketing.

First-Time Home Buyer Down Payment & Closing Cost Assistance Program

In early 2007 a collaborative of 20+ local realtors, mortgage bankers, neighborhood residents, etc. began work with new city staff to revamp this under-performing activity.  Via the development of new program guidelines and procedures, program loan production rose from only five (5) in 2006 to sixty (60) one year later.  It is noteworthy that city staff replaced a non-profit in assuming daily administrative responsibility.  Additionally, where First Financial provided most of the first mortgage financing for participating borrowers through the non-profit as late as 2006, the program was also revised to encourage local mortgage lenders to participate.

NOTE:  This is but one example where a "Working Partnership" of the local housing industry and city government produced desirable results.  There are others to follow.

Posted By: whistlersmom
Date Posted: Apr 30 2017 at 6:02pm
Did anyone mention that Middletown pays the highest property tax rate in the STATE on property values that are about double the amount it would sell for? A few years ago, Middletown properties were supposed to be re-evaluated, but none of the properties that I know of had values lowered. Lowering the values would have forced the rates to go up in order to satisfy the $ amount of the levies. (That’s according to Ohio Revised Code.)

Remember the Thatcher deal, when city council bought Manchester Inn, Sonshine, CG&E, First National Bank & others (all tax paying properties) and gave them to non-profits that pay no property taxes or sold them for one dollar. The remaining property owners have to make up for the loss of taxes with higher property effect higher rates. The CG&E building housed high end renters...lawyers’ offices and others that drew people downtown but they were run out of their longtime established location in favor of the now all but defunct Cincinnati State, nonprofit (which doesn’t pay taxes)!!! What about the Swallens building? When the city received the building, the city immediately sold the parking lot across the street for $12,000. Because the parking garage was closed (it was not properly policed and maintained) and there was no street parking, the loss of that parking lot rendered the $5.5 million building useless. Then our “leaders” decided to tear down the parking garage, and put in a surface parking lot. No wonder a buyer for the Swallens building was never found. AND THEN Council decided to tear down the newest, most modern building downtown, Swallens, because there was insufficient parking nearby. Think of the lost tax revenue there. Council still mistakenly thinks that it is easier to tear down than it is to re-purpose or rebuild. Our Council continues to compound its own mistakes.

Remember the 400 properties that Adkins razed, with Council’s blessing, and the lost tax revenues on those!! Once again the remaining property owners will have to pay higher taxes (the tax consequences have not yet shown up on our tax bills...but it will) to make up for the losses of this brilliant plan. (Not to mention the 6 figure amount needed to mow the empty lots.) Had Adkins and council brought in jobs and filled those vacant properties with property tax payers, income tax payers, people to support local businesses and pay local sales taxes the properties would have been a great asset for Middletown instead of another nail in the coffin of Middletown. Council will continue tearing down properties and adding more taxes to the highest taxes in the state. We have no swimming pools or any other quality of life assets but we do have very low performing schools. Council keeps making the same mistakes, but expects a different outcome. That is the definition of insanity.

Middletown property owners get prepared: “I will start our discussion of Housing Stock at the May 2, 2017 City Council meeting” said Atkins on his blog.   Let’s hope that doesn’t mean more destruction and compounding taxes on the citizens that have not been able to escape the punishment of living under a third world thinking government. Housing stock is NOT the problem!!! The properties are less valuable because of their location, location, location not their condition. People are FLEEING Middletown because of inept, short sighted, oppressive “city government.” If no one wants to live in Middletown, real estate in Middletown will continue to be of little value. Blaming housing stock for all the city’s ills is an attempt to call attention away from the REAL problems.

If Adkins and council had spent as much time on economic expansion instead of short circuiting our tax base by razing so much real estate, our city would be bringing in real jobs and spreading our taxes over more people with good incomes in pleasant surroundings. Instead they are destroying our city. Money is extorted from citizens for sidewalk, curb and gutter (Auto and Gas Tax should have paid); we are fined for too tall grass and for peeling paint on our properties, and so on… We the citizens are blamed for and repeatedly pay for the failures of our city government. Council IS THE REASON we can not compete with the surrounding cities and townships.

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

Posted By: spiderjohn
Date Posted: May 01 2017 at 9:10am
thank you mom
I have been singing that song for a few years here
I will be interesting to hear(maybe read??) what Mr.A has to say and his planning--I hope he comes up with something different.
We need it
This is a nice town but has few amenities and outsiders do not want to come here or leave here. People are actually scared to come here for football/basketball games.

Doesn't help that a drive down most west end areas is similar to scenes from the flick Night of the Living Dead--if the Zombie Apocalypse ever happens, we will be one of the first areas to go.

Posted By: spiderjohn
Date Posted: May 01 2017 at 9:41am
I see the school situation as a result of the decline of the city more than I see the city's problems as a result of the school ratings, and YES to middies mom,lover and 29, I plan on being very involved in the long term improvement of our education structure.

Posted By: processor
Date Posted: May 01 2017 at 11:34am
The article confused tax rate with total taxes paid.  Middletown has the highest tax rate, but has lower property taxes since the home values are so much lower than surrounding areas.  Whistlermom is correct that many of the levies are for a dollar amount and not a rate.  As housing values drop and more properties are taken off of the tax role, this increases the rate on the remaining properties.  However, on a dollars paid basis the property taxes in Middletown are relatively lower than other areas.

Spider....I hope that you do become involved in the schools.  They could use the help.  You make a great point regarding the impact of the city's decline on school performance.  I agree that this certainly has contributed but I also think that the schools haven't helped themselves either.  Both need to shoulder the blame.

Posted By: Analytical
Date Posted: May 02 2017 at 11:33am
Whistler's Mom -

I'll never forget a meeting of the City Council Housing Subcommittee in June 2008.  At that meeting chaired by David Schiavone, the illustrious Ms. Judith A. Gilleland told those present that a massive residential demolition program was the best plan of attack in remedying housing deficiencies in low- to moderate-income areas.  In response, Paul Renwick, Chairperson of the Community Development Advisory Committee (CDAC) took issue with her.  He stated that residential property rehabilitation COMBINED WITH complementary code enforcement and targeted demolition was a more prudent approach.  At that time Mr. Renwick also was President of the Greater Middletown Board of REALTORS.

Ms. Gilleland's face turned beet red given that anyone would dare take issue with her stellar ideas for revitalizing Ward 2 and portions of Ward 1.  Later that year, she and Ginger Smith abolished the CDAC at the time that I was slowly but surely being forced out of my job.  A couple of months later in March or April 2009, Mr. Douglas A. Adkins stated that it WAS NOT NECESSARY TO HAVE A BODY LIKE CDAC.  He went on to say that he had enough oversight of his work by HUD and Ms. Gilleland.

The above sums up what continues to be questionable support of  key senior city staff relative to TRUE CITIZEN'S PARTICIPATION.

Posted By: spiderjohn
Date Posted: May 03 2017 at 8:12am
from a post that I made in 2013:

welcome HDM/whomever--your input is appreciated

city fund-shifting?

wouldn't be such an issue if the city WAS shifting funds openly to where they are actually needed to benefit the entire community--however "they" are moving money from dedicated areas into ?able and expensive property purchases followed by insider giveaways of the same properties + large $$s of re-hab cash---money taken from the city taxpayers to be given to multi-millionares who promise the moon and seldom deliver. If the city put conditions and requirements on these giveaways, then we might get better, quicker more meaningful results imo. BUT-- our govt. gives it away with no such guarantees or timetables. Pendleton being a prime example--the Rose Building, First National and Masonic lately and the Manchester coming up shortly.

These large commercial properties used to pay substantial property taxes and house numerous mid/upper income taxpaying employees. Now we have next to none of either. And ALL in the same area with most of the recipients intertwined into the city inner circle. It would be very telling to read a graph/chart showing 40 years of expenditures/giveaways in our area formerly known as downtown, and the results as to jobs created, payrolls, retail/service sales and income/property taxes paid. You might be very surprised and better understand the concerns.

The rest of the city has been abandoned, other than haphazard property demos(long overdue) in order to fill requirements for using fed grant $$. We already have enough green space and brownfields/grayfields imo.

Drive around our city--particularly from Baltimore St up to Supthin and in Ward 2. More properties that are now not going to produce property tax OR be useful.

The recent local elections solved little.

Despite bold election time promises, no $$$ still =s no $$$, how the public safety fix will be handled should prove interesting. Can't wait to hear ?Mr.Picard's and Mrs.Bronston's solutions.

We now know that tax increases won't fly with voters, especially for public safety where we have been burned twice just in the last decade. An accounting of that tax $$(along with the sewer funding) might prove enlightening.


Posted By: VietVet
Date Posted: May 03 2017 at 8:52am
Yep, and the frustrating thing is that this same information is read by the city leadership and their supporters, including those on this forum, and the city leaders still conduct business as usual and, amazingly, their supporters turn a blind eye to the facts and argue with the opposing side on this site.

Same goes for the dam schools. Data produced by the proficiency tests for over a decade, showing bottom dwelling results, are "double-talked" and ignored by the school leaders and in both the city and the schools, nothing ever changes.

Must be hard backing up to your paycheck each week.

I'm so proud of my hometown and what it has become. Recall 'em all. Let's start over.

Posted By: Douglas Adkins
Date Posted: May 03 2017 at 9:24am
Viet Vet -   Yes homeowners will be permitted and encouraged to make their views known.   And... you can contact me anytime you'd like and I'll listen. Email me at   I'd be happy to sit down and have coffee as well.

You may not like a lot of my answers but a healthy discussion is just that... healthy.

Posted By: swohio75
Date Posted: May 03 2017 at 11:34am
Doug - nice (and eye-opening) presentation on the housing study. You definitely gave council (and citizens as you go out into the community and present) a lot to consider as Middletown moves forward.  

Posted By: whistlersmom
Date Posted: May 03 2017 at 12:45pm
Mr. Adkins,

Why do you prefer to “sit down and have coffee” ONE ON ONE with those who express an opposing thought? ALL of Middletown should have access to your answers to the questions put forth. What sort of PERSUASION will you have PRIVATELY which you can not have PUBLICLY? I received the same one on one offer on your Managers Blog on Fear of retribution stopped me from having such a meeting. It sounded like a threat.

The average citizen has no voice in the forum of “you have no right to question my policies”. The city has TAKEN THE POSITION OF DICTATORSHIP. What is healthy about that? Citizens should not need your “permission” to express their ideas and if there is a view point expressed its promptly ignored or discounted for not getting with the program...even when the program doesn’t make sense.

For instance, the way the city treated the O’Reilly store. The citizens had no input. All of city business is conducted by bureaucracy, in small secluded groups that make up the rules as they go along...under Mr. Adkins direction. That’s a dictatorship! The only input from citizens is our hard earned money for you to waste or give away on pet projects downtown.

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

Posted By: Analytical
Date Posted: May 03 2017 at 6:05pm
Mr. Adkins -

The former Community Development Advisory Committee (CDAC), the body that you (Doug) implied had little to no relevance back in 2009, was comprised of the following:  1)  Realtors -- Paul Renwick and Walter Leap;  2) Mortgage Bankers -- Robyn McNally French;  3)  Target Area Residents -- Bert Grimes, Rosalean Lindsey, Rev. Mitchell Foster and Wanda Glover;  4)  Former City Council Member -- Cris Amburgey;  and, 5)  Ex-Officio City Council Members -- Larry Mulligan and later Anita Scott Jones.  Please note that Mr. Mulligan attended one meeting and Ms. Jones never was present.

During my time as Community Development Coordinator, real and meaningful citizen's participation existed.  These members had an active role in the annual solicitation of CDBG/HOME Programs funding applications, rating and ranking of same, and finalization (with staff) of funding requests to city council for ultimate consideration.  In addition, they were routinely provided with detailed information on the status of the down payment/closing cost assistance program, owner-occupied housing rehab program, home buyer education program, emergency home repair program, etc.

In no way were these members a name-only, superficial entity.  They represented the Middletown housing industry and target area residents very well.

Posted By: Chief Muterspaw
Date Posted: May 03 2017 at 6:53pm
I joined this site because I have read it for a while but never really been a part of it. However sometimes I see accusations made on here about the city and the city manager which completely baffles me. Being someone who has the ear of the city and our residents I wanted to express my thoughts on a few things. Fortunately, I'm out in the city with the rich, the poor, the haves and have nots, the taxpayer and those who don't pay a dime. So it gives me the ability to see all sides.

While I can't discuss much about past history when it comes to certain things because either I don't know enough about it or was not in the loop I can assure you right now management at Middletown is in a better place than it has been in years. You have asked for transparency for years and now you have it. The police department, fire department and the city in general is more transparent and open than it's ever been. The department heads at the city are available constantly whether it's online or in person. City finances are online and every dime spent is available for the public to see. You wanted the "good old boy system" gone, so whether you know it or not, it is. The Manager, myself, our finance director, economic director--- none of us are "name" people in Middletown. We all had to work to get where we are now. We weren't groomed by city leaders to take over. We don't have secret meetings and we include everyone in our plans.

We always talk about overspending in management and excessive management staffing on here yet if you paid attention you would notice the city has cut many of those positions. The police department alone has cut over $300,000 in upper management position and put those bodies on the street through patrol, dispatchers and the records division. This is all occurred in the last three years. All these cuts were done with the permission of the city manager who wants more personnel out in the field. He wanted more boots on the ground, and that's what we did.

I have worked here a long time and and I have worked for some people that did not care but I can assure you that you have a city manager that does. We have constant discussions about the improvement of Middletown whether it's something big or something very minor. In the future instead of blogging about it, or questioning the city online please just come into the office anytime to discuss.

This whole rumor about the manager looking to fire people for blogging while working is absurd. The police department would be one of the ones handling that investigation and I assure you we are not. That accusation is false. Also the law director is leaving on his own as he has told me personally several times he's ready for retirement and is excited about it. We've had many conversations about the future and I know he is excited for his future plans. Shoot, we the PD are the leaders when it comes to blogging daily. It has built a trust with the community that is unparalleled. We have almost 17,000 people who follow us daily. We've solved major crimes because of this. The Manager encourages participation.

Again all you have to do is come down and ask instead of making accusations behind a keyboard. I love working for the City of Middletown and even though we go through hard times especially with this drug epidemic nationally I wouldn't want to work anywhere else or for any other city manager. And no, that is not sucking up to the boss because I already have the job. Take it for what it's worth. I am always available if you want to talk. The good old boy system you talk about is gone. I'm a very product of it being gone, trust me.

Chief Muterspaw

Posted By: whistlersmom
Date Posted: May 03 2017 at 9:41pm
In reference to an article in the Journal about property taxes Processor said:

The article confused tax rate with total taxes paid. Middletown has the highest tax rate, but has lower property taxes since the home values are so much lower than surrounding areas. Whistlermom is correct that many of the levies are for a dollar amount and not a rate. As housing values drop and more properties are taken off of the tax role, this increases the rate on the remaining properties. However, on a dollars paid basis the property taxes in Middletown are relatively lower than other areas.

From the Journal-News:

Tax bills on a $100,000 home vary widely across Butler County: Fairfield: $2,077   Fairfield Twp.: $2,319   HAMILTON: $1,966   Liberty Twp.: $2,262
MIDDLETOWN: $2,616   Monroe: $2,330 Oxford: $1,513   West Chester Twp.: $2,413

COMMENT: Middletown pays over 30% more taxes on the same value of property as Hamilton. Property taxes are NOT paid on the real value of the property (which is the $ that it will sell for), they are paid on the auditor’s valuation. None of the properties in Middletown had their values lowered (that I know of) because that would have raised the rates that were already too high. The loss in taxable value had more to do with the loss of value (and potential revenue) on Middletown’s 400 razed properties and properties turned over to nonprofits. That accounts for Middletown’s loss of property value. So the properties where the buildings had been razed lost most, if not all, of their value but the auditor’s valuation on the rest of our real estate did not change.   THE RESULT is that the rest of us must make up the difference by (in effect) paying a higher rate and pay that rate on properties over-valued by the auditor. The auditor could not reduce the values and still be able to deliver the required $ for the levies.

From city manager’s blog:
Our effective property tax rate is therefore, the highest in the area, meaning our residents are paying higher property taxes than other communities. Although our problem is very real, we are not alone in dealing with this issue. Surrounding cities have also experienced this downturn.
2011 to 2015          Total Value Loss
Middletown                  -8.8%
Hamilton                     -9.2%
Monroe                      -10.2%

COMMENT: This actually shows that Hamilton had even more loss of value than Middletown.   So Processor’s statement on this blog: “However, on a dollars paid basis the property taxes in Middletown are relatively lower than other areas.” is totally false. As stated above we pay $2,616 on a $100,000 home which is over 30% more than Hamilton’s $1966.

From the Journal-News:
“Ohio in recent history has among the highest average property taxes in the nation,” Watercutter said. “By continually raising property taxes to support schools, as well as other infrastructure in lieu of other funding sources such as sales tax — which generates revenues from property owners as well as non-property owners — property taxes limit a buyer’s ability to purchase as well as the property’s ability to appreciate in value.”
“A Journal-News analysis of property tax bills in Butler County showed the highest bill (based on a $100,000 home valuation) in the county is $2,616 — credits some homeowners receive were not factored into the bill — in Middletown. The lowest property tax bill, $1,272, on the same value was found in Wayne Twp.
Middletown’s effective tax rate is the highest in the county because the city lost almost $58.4 million in property value from 2011 through 2015, according to City Manager Doug Adkins, so adjustments had to be made.”

COMMENT Since Ohio has one of the highest property taxes in the nation and Middletown is highest in Ohio therefore we must be the highest taxed city in the entire nation!

What about Hamilton: “Finance Director Tom Vanderhorst said the city has lost $195 million in property value since the Great Recession in 2008, which means fewer people are shouldering the tax burden so individual tax bills go up.”   Yet they pay over 30% less property taxes than Middletown property owners.)

From city manager’s blog:
Three possible ways to lower our effective property tax rate would be :
1. To lower the total millage approved by voters;
1. To add significant new residential housing (and therefore value) to your overall housing stock lowering the effective tax rate; and
2. to significantly upgrade a large portion of existing housing stock, raising value to existing housing and lowering your effective tax rate. These would be major upgrades like room additions or finishing basements, etc.
3. to significantly upgrade a large portion of existing housing stock, raising value to existing housing and lowering your effective tax rate. These would be major upgrades like room additions or finishing basements, etc.

COMMENT: Maybe #4 should be: Quit tearing down everything or giving property to nonprofits and start rebuilding with jobs and new residents. Let’s start spreading the taxes among more people instead of less. Start using our tax dollars wisely and for what they were intended.

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

Posted By: VietVet
Date Posted: May 04 2017 at 9:52am
Chief Muterspaw, welcome to the forum. Nice to see city leadership participating in a forum that usually presents itself with an "anti-city" theme in most cases. You and Mr. Adkins, by your participation, have shown me another side of this city leadership that is of a positive nature. By the way, I was a neighbor of yours around the Woodhall Ct/Stratford Dr area at one time.

Getting better when compared to the Gilleland days under Mr. Adkin's leadership. Still a long way to go to get this city back to respectability. Major damage control is needed by the new administration to fix the issues caused by the former city trashers. Gilleland, Bill Becker and those before them didn't do this city any favors. Decent times ended when Ron Olson started to leave. Maybe before his time.

Will say it again, been around here off and on since 1948. Most living here now were not. They do not know how nice the city once was, therefore, their hostility/anger, if they have any, is nonexistent by what has and is transpiring now. The city supporters, including those who support the downtown effort, only see what has happened in the last few decades at best. Those with starry-eyed hope, like most downtown business owners and those that see Donham Plaza as doing no wrong, only see such things because they have no basis of comparison. All they know is what they have seen the last several decades and not the total picture when times were good around here. Of course, there are others who believe all they are told no matter what the circumstances.

It may be, in your words as well as Mr. Adkins, that it is becoming a more open and transparent government and we citizens are welcomed to go one on one with any of you, but there is another factor that is preventing that from happening........the trust/vindictive issue.

I will not schedule a meeting with any city official, even if advertised as open/honest and of free speech because that would set a person up for scrutiny from the city. Don't laugh. Right or wrong, the climate is present for people to be targeted by city officials. It may be a city pickup truck parked by the curb with no reason to be there except to monitor activities. It may be an internal city building thing where some are targeted for watch on their taxes or water bills. City officials will call it paranoia. To some, it may be very real. I would imagine there is a trust issue that you and others must overcome with many here before a city/resident relationship can begin. I would also imagine that much of this came from the Gilleland era where, supposedly, trust was an issue even within the confines of the city building with her employees.

If one were to meet face to face with Mr. Adkins, and voice some displeasure with his city administration, I would imagine one might think that they are now a target for city scrutiny. That is how far it has gotten as to the division between the people and their government.

Perhaps we can start the communication between citizens and officials with a community forum that would include the city manager, all council members, the police chief and any others the people may wish to address where the questions aren't screened beforehand and the responses couldn't be pre-rehearsed. Perhaps a large gathering may lessen the risk of retaliation as their would be witnesses to the debates to ease the comfort level.   

I'm so proud of my hometown and what it has become. Recall 'em all. Let's start over.

Posted By: spiderjohn
Date Posted: May 04 2017 at 2:14pm
wow--outstanding to have these two "high profile" public officials acknowledging and honestly participating on this forum. I have known and worked with Mr.A and Chief M for quite a while, and can speak highly of their openness, honesty and dedication to our community. They are both available to seriously discuss pretty much all situations. They truly listen and think about your points of view.

Doesn't mean that we agree on everything--hardly the case--however I(and they) can accept alternative thinking and never make it personal. They both live here, raise their families here and are very active parts of the community. Can't ask for much more, other than Council getting the message and start communicating similarly(other than when they are running for election).

Hopefully this can progress to a very simple form of ? and answer communication available to everyone. It is hardly the screen name that matters---most importantly the message. A true positive move for the uniting of our city. We ALL want the area to prosper, and together we can accomplish that goal much faster and easier imo.


Posted By: Analytical
Date Posted: May 04 2017 at 2:45pm
Community Revitalization Performance (2009-17)

HUD Section 8 (Housing Choice Voucher Program)

     Mr. Adkins oft-stated main goal was to reduce the number of Middletown's vouchers by nearly 50%
     Mr. Adkins secondary goal was to replace C.O.N.S.O.C. as the consultant program administrator
     Mr. Adkins hired a new program administrator as well as housing quality standards inspection firm
     Mr. Adkins obtained a $250,000 +/- software program to streamline data processing and information needs
     Mr. Adkins a short time later replaced the original housing quality standards inspection firm
     An unknown amount of city funds were spent for consultant, legal and other expenses in the dispute with HUD
     All program administration responsibilities were eventually transferred to Butler and Warren Housing 

Owner-Occupied Housing Rehabilitation Program

     Mr. Adkins eventually terminated this long-standing target area betterment program
     In 2008 over $550,000 was invested in the rehabilitation of 30+ target area properties
     Mr. Adkins eventually transferred more than $500,000 in revolving loan funds for residential demolition

Emergency Home Repair Program

     Mr. Adkins has roughly $50,000 allocated to People Working Cooperatively for very small rehab projects
     As late as 2008 over $500,000 in city, PWC and Federal Home Loan Bank funds were available
     As late as 2008 up to $12,500 per homeowner was available for moderate rehab activities
    As late as 2008 nearly 100 homeowners received an average of $5,500 in housing code/other improvements

First-Time Home Buyer Education Program

    City staff and LifeSpan, Inc. staff assisted 300 first-time purchasers from October 2007 through September 2008
    Later, this partnership entity was transferred to a different non-profit solely administered activity

NOTE:  Other information will be forthcoming for the 1)  First-Time Home Buyer Down Payment/Closing Cost Assistance
Program;  2)  Residential Property Demolition Program;  3)  Neighborhood Stabilization Program; and,  4)  Supplemental
CDBG Funding.

Posted By: whistlersmom
Date Posted: May 04 2017 at 4:36pm
Vet’s suggestion that we could   “start communication between citizens and officials with a community forum that would include the city manager, all council members, the police chief and any others the people may wish to address, where the questions aren’t screened beforehand and the responses couldn’t be pre-rehearsed.”   ...would be an ideal situation.

This describes how good city government responds to the people they represent. Actually, City Council IS responsible for keeping an open dialog with citizens. But too many constraints are placed on citizens’ ability to express concerns in our Council meetings.   Even to be considered to make a comment, you must request beforehand to speak and you will be limited to three minutes.   Your request can and will be denied at council’s discretion.    Also, no other open forums have been offered for citizens which involved all city officials, and allowed open question and answer sessions.

Yes, having our Police Chief Muterspaw join and contribute to this forum is a plus! More please!

Just one city official has yet responded to Vet’s great suggestion. Don’t hold your breath. They are the one’s who are hiding ….behind their official status….so out of reach, so out of touch and perhaps short of answers for our questions.

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

Posted By: Chief Muterspaw
Date Posted: May 04 2017 at 10:25pm
Thank you for the kind words,and Vet, I'm happy to hear we were neighbors. Hope my kids didn't drive you insane!

I will tell you we have had many community forums over the last two years involving the police department and have brought officers and staff to answer questions, some of them very tough questions. We have always enjoyed that. Some forums we had 100 people, others we had five. As far as getting everyone together with council and the department heads and all of that that is something that will have to come from upstairs simply because they don't plan for me and I don't plan for them. I know several of our council members are very active in the community and will always be available to talk and I can promise you the city manager is the same way. I do know the Manager goes out of his way to be available.

I can see the distrust from years past and as a resident of Middletown for most of my life of the other than going away to college I can surely figure out why that is. All I am saying is give us a chance and work with us instead of writing us off. This is a new administration with new people and I can assure you it is people who have Middletown in his best interest.

My door is always open and we've never said no to speaking with our community. We actually thrive on that. If being here makes us more transparent then I'm happy to hear that. There is some distrust left in the city but we need to get rid of that to move forward. If I put aside the fact that I'm the police chief and look at the city as a taxpayer only I can certainly tell you I would be very happy with the moves that are being made, regardless of rumors and innuendo going around. I know the struggle and stress the department heads have every day trying to make this a better city ....give us an opportunity to make positive changes. No, we're not going to make everyone happy, not in government, but we can try to make this a better place to live.

Take care and reach out if you ever need anything-

Posted By: VietVet
Date Posted: May 05 2017 at 8:10am
Kids never bothered me. We had a nice neighborhood. Very respectable.

Now that we have the city manager and police chief on board with communication, would like to see the entire city council participate. Three minutes is just not enough time for a complete discussion and it doesn't fit the typical city council meeting format either. The council public forums vanished with the dismissal of Josh Laubach. Haven't had one from any councilmember for years. He (and Tony Marconi) were the only two who cared enough to interface with the public and we had some nice discussions back then. I noticed that Mulligan and Scott-Jones were present at one meeting at the Wildwood Country Club years ago. Probably there to monitor and "coach" young Josh to ensure he said the "right things" and to discuss "issues" with him if he didn't. Just speculation on my part but it wouldn't surprise me that that wasn't the case. Mulligan, at times, seems to indicate he wants to keep tight reigns on his fellow council members. Because Mulligan is an MMF member, gotta abide by the MMF doctrine at all costs.

Council needs to break the rubber stamping image and start thinking on their own for a change. Need to acquire an independent streak and be their own person. Their current behavior makes them look awfully weak and in the mold of puppets doing the bidding of a higher authority (the MMF) The people don't want that kind of output from the council. They want discussion of the issues before decisions are made, not the current "yes-nodding" nonsense and the automatic unanimous approvals that are listed in the meeting workbooks.

No council member (except Bohannon, as it relates to HUD housing landlord discussions here) has participated here. Hell, even Marcia Andrew, to her credit, has talked to us in the past. Why no council members as yet? Does Larry Mulligan think he is above the fray? Let's talk Mulligan (and leave the aloofness at home).

I'm so proud of my hometown and what it has become. Recall 'em all. Let's start over.

Posted By: acclaro
Date Posted: May 05 2017 at 8:12am
The discussions are like a band aid over a mass cut requiring 100 stitches to seal. It really accomplishes little, other than making others feel good about each other for the time spent.

Years ago, and before every levy, I stated the effects of the levies bring brought forth often, with great regularity. The fact is the higher costs associated with levies and tax rate increases, diminished exactly what Middletown was attempting to accomplish. It lowered market attractiveness and elevation of tax base, associated with lowering market demand, its really that simple.

With lowered market demand, and the poor demographics Middletown has been victim for decades, the schools perform poorly. When the schools perform poorly, the tax rates are high, associated with enormous apathy and the use of voting blocks the city and the school board effectively makes use, and fairly, the problem will never cease. Years ago I called it the Titantic syndrome. The ship going down, and the Perfect Storm signs have been everywhere, and for decades.

Why would building more new buildings raise property taxes, when market demand is so dismally low presently? Why would focusing on downtown, turn around Middletown? Young professionals excited to move into a system with poor schools that just wont get better....the demographics arent changing, a chronic problem, and crime and homeless still flock the streets at night. The city has gotten so dangerous, stopping to get a sub at Subway or driving a major road system, causes one to be at risk for a bullet and harm in well traveled, and well populated areas.

At the end of the day, discussions do little to rectify the problem. The problem is too many levies passing by older individuals that have drastically raised property taxes, while demand for property is just dismal and getting worse. That is why Middletown's touted comeback, is rhetorical spin, never to be fulfilled. And to that end, this story and outcome, was told and documented many times over, here on this forum a decade ago.      

'An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.' - Winston Churchill

Posted By: whistlersmom
Date Posted: May 05 2017 at 12:19pm
Vet, you are correct to be suspicious of the city government and their targeted enforcement. It does not matter if there is or isn’t a problem with you or your property. If the city wants to find something wrong, a lie is as good as the truth to the city inspectors, police and our court. Don’t forget that Adkin’s second favorite pastime (right after destroying every property possible) is abusing our seniors about property upkeep. Seniors shouldn’t be harassed and have to do without food or medicine to keep their property perfect to prevent Adkins tearing it down. According to Adkins Middletown’s housing stock is our only real problem. Adkins is now advocating destroying more of our city than ever. Look around the city.   There is NO rebuilding where the houses have been razed...there are only empty lots which Adkins has decreed will remain vacant. That’s right!! no one is allowed to build on them.   Adkins must think if every house was new and paying high taxes no one would notice the lack of amenities, poor performing schools, no jobs and a government that destroyed a fine city and then blamed their problems on the citizens’ imperfect properties. This is indefensible!

Chief Muterspaw, your input is very welcome. Hopefully you can keep an open mind both directions for and against city government.   As to open government, I hope you read on The City Manager’s Blog about how Adkins, himself, described how he coached council to arrive at predetermined decisions before the council meeting.   You also mention that city finances are on line and available to the public. Did you look at them and notice that many times the same check number shows up with two different “pay to” amounts; and/or reversed or rotating funds to or from revenue (which is the general fund) and to or from enterprise funds (which are restricted from being used for anything other than their specific use)?   The storm water sewer fund is used like a slush fund. Check the balance of that fund!!! Years of collection on our water bills, representing millions of $’s have disappeared. The city lagged behind other municipalities, by several years, in putting the “checkbook” accounting on line. The city”s method of accounting data entry, makes finding and being able to use the information difficult at best. It’s understood, these are not your doing but they are serious problems that have been overlooked for years.

Here are some questions that need honest answers (some of these were before your time but still they should not exist today):

1. Even though we passed a safety levy that promised no lay-offs in safety personnel, don’t we have fewer police now? If you in fact made $300,000 in cuts to management in the police department (that wasn’t just Hoffman retiring?) and replaced them with police on the streets, that’s a welcome change. But if that is true, why do we need to have the State Highway Patrol patrolling our streets.

2. How long have you been reading this blog? Questions from people who care about our city have gone unanswered for years on this blog. It will take some time to give it a thorough look.

3. Have you looked into the fact that the police do not answer their phone? It is easy to say that crime is down if you don’t take police reports. Being the highest crime area in the state, third highest in the country, is not improved by answering your phones with a recording.

4. A few years ago there was a problem with no records being kept in the property room. The police officer responsible was written up, but she was exonerated in court. She was only obeying orders. Money, drugs and guns were all missing. Where did all that property go? Were court cases lost and drug dealers released because of missing evidence?   And after 6 or 7 years of no records being kept (of property going in or going out) Les Landen dismissed all inquiries with one look around and announced that nothing was missing.   Has this problem been solved? Are records being kept correctly? Can we trust that? The city’s tax payer has had to bear the cost of court cases and settlements. How much has this cost us?

5. There are several court records of Middletown police impounding cars illegally and the company that does most of their impounding falsely reporting that cars were sold, or otherwise not able to be returned. It was proven in a court case, Henry v. City of Middletown•Case No. 15-3119, 5 (6th Cir. Jul. 15, 2016), that a car was still in possession of Mark’s Towing when they claimed it to be sold.   In that same case it was determined there was an illegal impound.   Do you think that police filing false reports in order to take citizens’ property should be tolerated in Middletown?   Have the police involved been held responsible or disciplined? Are they continuing to make illegal impounds today? How can they be trusted? How much did this court case cost us?

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

Posted By: whistlersmom
Date Posted: May 05 2017 at 12:21pm
In agreement with Vets comments that the lack of communication with Council members and Mayor Mulligan needs to be addressed. Note that no council member has responded to this forum’s request. The citizens should not have to beg to initiate a conversation. Council has written the public off as not worthy of their attention. Any new council members it seems are quickly indoctrinated as to how things are done and there are no changes or improvement in public relations. Mr Adkins’ “one on one” offers are still seen as threatening. It’s Mr. Adkins’s way or the highway. This is my hometown and there are others who feel as I do….we should not be drummed out of our homes because we have opposing ideas and opinions with Adkins.

Adkins’ idea that tearing down our homes and building high end new housing as THE ONLY solution has no basis in fact or reason. High end housing can not and will not sell in Middletown until the city improves schools, makes the city a safe place for families, and provides amenities that a prosperous demographic would find attractive. Why isn’t there concentration on bringing business and thereby new jobs into Middletown? The Journal announced today that all of the variances for O’Reilly were approved! I think this forum can take some credit for making that possible by constantly criticizing the unreasonable regulations and resistance to their building plans.

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

Posted By: Profitthepeople
Date Posted: May 14 2017 at 7:29am
You're so well thought out. Hope to see you at the next city hall meeting. By chance do you know if the Manchester Inn is for Sale again? It doesn't look like it is but I'm curious.

People over Profit

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