The Crap in Our Back Yard
These two pieces of crap sit behind the "Old Crack House". The windows are all broken and the plumbing and furnaces have been ripped out. The back doors are open or the boarding is busted out and kids play in them. They were built around 1915 or so as two woodstove houses by Leonard Volkenand, who lived in our place from 1904 until his death in 1937. That means they were heated with a stove upstairs and one downstairs. They were problem rentals for us when we bought the place and in really bad shape. When the owner died they were left to her daughter who inherited another 7 just like them. She evicted the tenants for humanitarian reasons (nobody should have to live with that many fleas) and has done nothing with the properties for the last 4 years. She hasn't paid the taxes either. Her daughter lives across the street and won't do anything about them. She won't even cut the grass. We would be happy to get these and demolish them and expand our back yard but we run into a problem. The county sold the tax liens to a bank in Florida. The liens total $12,000 and the cost to demolish these will be about $8000 and the two empty lots are worth maybe $6000 because they are too small to build on under the new zoning code.
There is a program that the city offers residents to acquire abandoned property and get the delinquent taxes forgiven. Taxes have to be two years in arrears for the property to qualify. Basically we would fill out an application form and deposit $1000 with the city. This is used to force a sheriff sale on the property. The first sale is for the taxes owed. If there is no sale it will be put up a second time with no minimum bid. If nobody buys it, the city acquires it and then gives it to us and keeps the $1000. If someone buys the property we get our deposit back. Since the liens keep getting sold to this bank in Florida, these properties taxes are no longer in arrears so we can't attempt to acquire the properties. So they will sit empty and vacant for another 5 years or until the city sends out the demolition crews to tear them down. They add that bill to the delinquent tax bill so the problem perpetuates itself until the bank realizes that it is sitting on a very expensive piece of crap that they will never be able to sell or collect on.
I mentioned this problem to our mayor last week. The information entered her right ear, ricocheted off a couple of brain cells and created a foggy glaze over her eyes. She looked in my direction and said "You need to talk to the county auditor." Now I'm willing to do that but my thought is "Yeah right, like my two crappy properties matter to the county auditor! Do you think he's going to make a call to the bank in Florida that got bilked by him for a couple hundred grand to recall $12,000 in liens?" She said that this is a county problem, not a city problem but the truth is that it IS a city problem because there are many other houses like these within city limits.
My experience in this town is that the city administration does not communicate with the county administration. I think it is a political party thing which is so stupid in this day and age because our governments are supposed to serve "We the people ..." and the people in the city of Dayton are getting served poorly as a result of our elected city leaders not being willing to work with county elected leaders because they aren't members of the same political party, even though it would be the right thing to do.
I'm pretty certain that if the right person investigates this, they will find at least 50 or even more properties about the city in a similar situation. At least nine being owned by the above mentioned lady. If the person investigating would happen to work for the city and would approach the county auditor about this problem then these bad property liens could be swapped out for good ones that have more recent delinquent taxes. This would free these real crap properties up to be acquired by residents who care or land banked by the city planning department.
I have spoken with people in the planning department, the building inspection division and economic development since and will get the opportunity to present this at a neighborhood housing committee meeting that I attend next week.
I am so fed up with the way our city government doesn't work as effectively as I KNOW it can that I went to the board of elections and asked what I need to run for mayor next year. The gentleman behind the desk looked me square in the eye and said "A prayer."