Is Mayor Greg Fischer a property tax deadbeat?

In 2001 Greg Fischer paid $1.7 million for a 5,700 square-foot house with a 2,800 square-foot basement on a 1.3 acre lot. Today, fourteen years later, the Jefferson County PVA says that house is worth $1.55 million.

Fischer’s house lost over $10,000 in value every year since it was purchased.  That is very, very hard to believe.

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$1.7 million in 2001.  $1.55 million in 2014.  What’s going on here?

The Courier-Journal was happy to print a defense of Fischer’s reduced assessment:

The assessment of Fischer’s hilltop house overlooking Cherokee Park dropped from $1.71 million to $1.55 million, mainly because he lives in an area where few homes with similar characteristics have sold recently, the PVA office said.

The C-J failed to mention that homes in the Highlands are architecturally unique, which is ONE OF THE TOP SELLING POINTS OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD.  Every house in Fischer’s neighborhood is unique – which means they should all receive reduced assessments if you follow the PVA’s convoluted logic.

The house at 1732 Spring Drive doesn’t share similar characteristics with other homes in the neighborhood.  Did it get a reduced assessment? deadbeat1eNo, it did not.

1732 Spring Drive has skyrocketed by 53% in value since 2001, from $804,160 to $1,228,650, while Mayor Fischer’s assessment declined by about 9% during the same time period. deadbeat1f

This is 1770 Spring Drive which is in Mayor Fischer’s neighborhood of distressed real estate, as the PVA implies.  This very unique home has increased in value by 104% from $407,630 in 2001 to $830,000 in 2014.  Why didn’t this house receive a reduced assessment like Fischer’s house?

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Jefferson County PVA, Tony Lindauer, had this to say in the same story about slow sales in Fischer’s neighborhood, the Highlands:

“Sales are driving the bus. It’s been a seller’s market,” Lindauer said. “The downturn is over. The economy is strong.”

Sales are down in Fischer’s neighborhood?  Or are they up?  PICK A STORY AND STICK WITH IT, LINDAUER.

Here is a house on Cherokee Road, also in the Highlands, that sold for over $1.4 million just last month.  The original asking price was $1.6 million according to a recent online listing with Monica Orr as the selling agent.

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Sold for $1.414 million last month.  Assessed at $1.226 million.  Worth $390,000 in 2005.  A 214% increase in value in 10 years.  In the Highlands. A house with characteristics unlike any other in the neighborhood.  Just like Fischer’s.  The names of the new property holders have been duly updated on the PVA website but the assessed value remains at $1.226 million instead of the sale price of $1.414 million.  Why?

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Who bought this $1.2 million house? Two of the owners of MD2U, which raked in $400,000 of your tax dollars for a business that rakes in a bunch of Medicare tax dollars.

From Business First:

As Business First reported earlier this year, the company [MD2U], whose doctors make house calls to home-bound patients or people with limited mobility, received preliminary approval for $400,000 in tax incentives from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority.

And this pat on the back from a Cabinet for Economic Development press release:

“The work at MD2U is an example of how Louisville is leading the nation in the aging care and lifelong wellness industry,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.

And about 1261 Cherokee Road:

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Who sold the property?  Gil (John) Holland and Augusta Brown Holland.  He is the tireless hustler/developer of NuLu and Portland which have been heavily dependent on tax dollars for life support – $11 million for a NuLu hotel, millions for NuLu improvements, a special NuLu tax district, $1.2 million for a West End food hub, millions in tax incentives for Portland, etc, etc,and she of the Brown-Forman fortune.

If the walls of this grand,old house on Cherokee Road could talk, they would say to its owners, old and new, “Which tax schemes shall we discuss today, my dears?”

To the previous owners, they would have asked, “Did you dash off those checks to our good friend, Fischer?”

deadbeat8b deadbeat8c There’s another Brown heir that gave generously to Mayor Fischer.  George Garvin Brown IV.  Great-grandson of George Garvin Brown, founder of Brown-Forman.  According to Bloomberg, he was the managing director of Brown-Forman’s Western Europe and African operations (2009-2011).  Former resident of Kensington Gardens, one of the poshest neighborhoods in London.  Now, a vice-president of Brown-Forman and Highlands resident. This is where he lives:

willow1 Like Mayor Fischer, Mr. Brown received a tidy reduction in his property assessment.  He paid $740,000 for Unit 1606 four years ago but the PVA has reduced his assessment to $617,950.  A $122,050 discount.  That’s 17%.

Unit 1606 is worth $252,000 less than in 2006 and has “lost” 29% of its value in nine years.

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Maybe this helped. willow1b And this. willow1c Or maybe it’s just a bizarre coincidence that Mr. Brown contributed $3000 to Greg Fischer’s campaign and received a significant assessment reduction while his neighbors who failed to give a single dime to Fischer, who live on higher, lower, odd and even units were hit with 13 to 26% increases on their assessments.

*Mr. Vucinich lives in Unit 1508.  His property value increased in 9 years from $384,050 to $435,130: 13%

*Mr. and Mrs. Kaleel live in Unit 1507.  Their property value increased in 9 years from $395,000 to $446,760: 13%.

*Mrs. Glass lives in Unit 1104.  Her property value increased in 3 years from $433,000 to $513,600: 19%.

*Mr. Thomas lives in Unit 604. His property value increased in 9 years from $427,490 to $536,800: 26%

*Mrs. McDowell lives in Unit 804.  Her property value increased in 9 years from $425,080 to $533,780: 26%.

*Xaverian Brothers own Unit 1806.  Their property value increased in 9 years from $427,490 to $536,800: 26%.

Mr. Vucinich, Mrs. Glass and everyone else described above have two things in common: they were hit with double-digit property assessment increases and they didn’t contribute to Mayor Fischer’s campaign.

Two units had property value increases that were outliers.  That is, they were very low.

*Mrs. Whittenberg owns Unit 407. In 9 years, her property value increased just 4.6% from $357,520 to $373,920.  Her neighbor is someone named Lynn. willowwhittenberg

*Lynn owns Unit 408.  In 9 years, her property value increased just 4.6% from $358,170 to $374,600.  Lynn is Mayor Fischer’s sister. willow2 I wonder if Mayor Fischer’s dad has seen his property value decrease on the $3.228 million condo he purchased nine years ago.  Has his tax bill decreased like his son’s?witherspoon Yes, it has.  Mr. Fischer’s property is worth $112,819 less today than in 2006.

witherspoon1Are there more contributors to Fischer’s mayoral campaigns who have benefited from lower property assessments?

Are there other Fischer friends who will get lower property tax bills while collecting tax incentives for their latest non-profit hobbies?

Are there Louisville property owners who have been hit with spectacularly high property assessments who haven’t contributed to Fischer’s campaigns?

Yes, yes and yes.

And one more thing.  Why are so many houses in Hunting Creek’s estate section and Lake Forest getting lower assessments/property tax savings when most of the growth in Louisville is in the East End?

So many questions, so few in local media to dig up the answers.

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Updated May 8th, 2015:

Assessment history for Mayor Fischer’s home at 1715 Spring Drive.

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