‘It just breaks my heart’: Some brace for massive flood protection assessments under MCD change



The Miami Conservancy District is readjusting its appraisal of flood protection benefits this year, a process that hasn’t happened since 2012. Changes to fees collected for the region’s flood protection system will likely come into effect in 2025.

Officials say that roughly 83% of the properties covered by the Miami Conservancy District will pay less than $250 annually for two fees related to flood protections.

But increases for the other 17% can be much higher. And some business and housing leaders in the region point to the financial strain added expenses have during a time of high living costs.

One business manager in Hamilton is leading a campaign to oppose the increases after his agency’s property — an artist loft building in the city’s downtown — is slated to see its assessment increase from $1,208 to $10,810.

“It just breaks my heart,” said David Stark, the director of operations at ArtSpace Hamilton Lofts. “This is going to affect so many small businesses, and it will definitely significantly alter Hamilton itself for growth.”

Calculating assessments due

Proposed assessment changes include a new 1% capital assessment and a 0.59% increase to the 2.19% maintenance assessment 47,000 residents are already paying. The assessments will cover costs related to upkeep and rehabilitation of the levee and dam system.

The Miami Conservancy District says it has identified about $140 million in short-term and long-term projects needed to ensure levees, dams and channels across the region remain safe and effective. Aging infrastructure, extreme weather events and increasing rainfall are putting pressure on the regional flood protection system, which has critical maintenance, repair, rehabilitation and reinvestment needs.

The Miami Conservancy District hosted open houses in Dayton, Troy and Hamilton to offer information about the assessment and walk property owners through their assessments.

These assessments are not taxes and are currently based on property values from 12 years ago, according to the Miami Conservancy District.

“Flood protection assessments are based partly on property values,” says MaryLynn Lodor, Miami Conservancy District general manager. “And property values change over time. With the readjustment, we assure equitable distribution of the flood protection costs.”

The conservancy district created a database for property owners covered by flood protection to check what they’ll be charged for the two assessments.

The district used a formula that multiplies the benefit properties receive from the flood protection system by the rates the district charges for the assessments. To do this, the district calculated a property’s “flood factor” by using mapping technology.

The flood factor of a property is a percentage determined by the depth of flooding that occurred in 1913 where the property is located.

“Fully protected” properties are protected by dams, storage basins and levees, according to Miami Conservancy District chief of technical and engineering services Barry Puskas.

The flood factor for these properties starts at 6% and goes up to 30%.

Miami Conservancy District flood factor

Flood depth in 1913 (ft.)Flood factor (%)
10 feet or more30
Greater than 0-0.496

Source: Miami Conservancy District

“Partially protected” properties are only protected by dams and storage basins in the flood protection system, Puskas said. They are automatically assigned a flood factor of 3%.

The district also considers the percentage of land that flooded for a property, as well as the placement of the building in a protected parcel. In other words, if a building does not rest in the portion of property that flooded in 1913, that will be considered in calculating flood prevention benefit.

The flood factor of a property and any other modifiers are multiplied by 35% of the property’s value — this includes land and building tax value. This total is then multiplied by the rate of an assessment, or 1% for the capital charge and 2.78% for the maintenance charge.

‘Keep Hamilton Afloat’

Stark, with ArtSpace Hamilton Lofts, said he launched the Keep Hamilton Afloat campaign to raise awareness about the assessments, point property owners to the benefit exception process and encourage them to seek other solutions for funding needed repairs.

“No one is unappreciative of our flood protection structures,” he said. “But so much is needed so quickly. And everyone is a stakeholder in this. We didn’t revitalize Hamilton just to become the cash cow of the Miami Conservancy District.”

Stark could be paying more than $10,000 annually in assessments after the reappraisal comes into effect for the apartment building that houses artists in Hamilton.

The Miami Conservancy District database shows that the maintenance assessment on one of ArtSpace’s properties is proposed to increase from $1,208 to $7,950. And the new capital assessment is set at $2,859.

The property, Stark recalls, has a flood factor of 23%.

He said he feels if more than 80% of individual properties are paying less than $250 annually, the nearly 20% that are paying more must be footing larger bills.

“It really puts quite a burden on the unlucky 17%,” he said.

Assessments will depend on location, 1913 flood impact

The Miami Conservancy District collects fees from 47,000 individual properties that stretch across five counties.

Geographically, partially protected properties typically fall outside of the core of most cities in the region. These properties will likely see lighter charges.

In the Dayton area, this includes areas surrounding Eastwood MetroPark, Kittyhawk golf course, Triangle Park, Shiloh Park and more. Elsewhere in Montgomery County, chunks of Germantown are also partially protected. Thousands of Dayton houses that are not on the riverfront are not charged capital and maintenance assessments, too.

Partially protected properties, the conservancy district estimates, will be charged $29 for the maintenance assessment and $10 for the capital assessment per $100,000 in property value annually.

But properties with a 30% flood factor and no modifiers related to building placement will likely see a higher bill. The Miami Conservancy District estimated that this could result in charges of $292 for the maintenance assessment and $105 for the capital assessment annually per $100,000 in property value.

The reappraisal of assessments follows the historic rise in property values in Ohio. Montgomery County saw an average increase of 34% in residential property value countywide as a part of the state-mandated triennial update last year. The average increase in Butler County is 37%.

The district, which was formed after the Great Dayton Flood in 1913, is funded by individual assessments on properties and “unit assessments’' paid by five counties and 22 communities.

Next steps

Property owners can file an exception to the readjusted benefits in writing by April 24. More information about exceptions can be found on the Miami Conservancy District’s website.

A board of county common pleas court judges in July is tasked with considering the appraisal record and proposed rates for assessments. These assessments will be filed with county auditor’s offices in September. Assessments will be collected in early 2025.

About the Author