Miami Conservancy District to meet with Hamilton Council over rate hikes

Some Butler County rates would triple or quintuple.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The city of Hamilton will host the Miami Conservancy District on Thursday after city leaders expressed frustration and ire over planned assessments that many locals feel are too high and will hurt economic development.

Because of the overwhelming concern and questions about the Miami Conservancy District’s planned 2025 assessments, Hamilton City Council will host the MCD board and its general manager, MaryLynn Lodor, at 6 p.m. Thursday in City Council chambers at 345 High St. The meeting will air live on the Journal-News and TV Hamilton‘s Facebook pages.

The district — formed two years after the Great Flood of 1913 for flood protection — will have a short presentation and allow questions and comments from the public.

Lodor had been before Hamilton Council in December and the Butler County Commission in mid-March addressing the board on its readjustment of benefits. Though the assessment evaluation process was in its infancy in December, she presented MCD’s case to the commissioners last month. Butler County commissioners discussed MCD’s assessments at their April 1 meeting after Lodor, through the county administrator, requested the commission’s support in the district’s state capital budget request for funding.

The commission declined to offer a letter of support for the state funding request because the increased assessment the MCD is imposing on property owners “is too much.”

Because of improvements made on properties, some Butler County increases would nearly triple and quintuple, and in the case of Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill, the assessment would increase more than 50 times. Spooky Nook and other business owners plan to appeal the assessment, which can be done by businesses and residents until April 24 online at

“I’m not in support of supporting them,” said Commissioner Don Dixon, about the state funding request.

The MCD provided statistics to the Butler County Commission saying that most property owners would see a $135 or smaller increase in the assessment on their property tax bill. Commission President Cindy Carpenter, who supported signing a letter of support for the district’s capital funding request, said that amount is still “a large increase to hit people with.”

Some two weeks after Lodor’s presentation on the assessment, Dixon said referred to it as “a big spiel” and said she basically told the commissioners, “Here it is, good luck, but you can’t do anything about it,” as it was approved by the MCD’s Conservancy Court, a group of common pleas judges that agreed to the increased assessment.

“I can’t do that,” Dixon said earlier this month. “I’m just not comfortable with it. It goes back to the same thing, taxation without representation. Our folks don’t get a vote on it.”

The MCD was formed in 1915, two years after the Great Flood of 1913 which was called “the most widespread disaster in the history of the United States,” according to Trudy Bell, the author of the Arcadia book “The Great Dayton Flood of 1913.”

She wrote that the flood impacted rivers as far as east as the Hudson in Troy, N.Y., and dozens of rivers saw record water levels.

The 1913 flood in Hamilton had a discharge rate of 352,000 cubic feet of water, according to a December presentation by Lodor do Hamilton City Council, at the start of the evaluation of the reassessment process. The area around Spooky Nook was under 15 to 18 feet of water, and the urban core just west of the High-Main Bridge saw 4 to 8 feet of flooding.

Since the MCD was created, and Hamilton was one of its founders, the maximum discharge was a rate of 108,000 cubic feet of water in 1959, and contained within the flood protection infrastructure. Lodor and other MCD officials said the proposed assessment increase is needed as the infrastructure is aging, and 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 district said 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.

The flood protection maintenance assessment collects $6.4 million, and reserves will not sustain normal operations beyond 2025. The new maintenance rate of 2.78% is set to cover the district through 2032, generating $11.5 million a year, and allowing the district to rebuild its cash reserves.

Lodor said in December to Hamilton City Council, though the formula and valuations were not known at that time, those who are along Hamilton’s 5-plus miles of levee would see a higher assessment because they have more protections, which includes the upstream dams and other flood protections.

That formula is also based on the amount of flooding properties and parcels experienced in 1913 “because that’s the design storm,” Lodor told Hamilton City Council as that would ensure that amount of water doesn’t flood those properties again.

Lodor is on record saying the readjusted assessment was delayed a few years because of a 2021 Butler County property tax appeal by former county auditor Roger Reynolds, which he lost in 2022. The MCD said the annual cost to maintain the flood protection system is approximately $9 million and that appeal delayed the assessment and caused an annual deficit of $3 million, which was covered by MCD’s cash reserves.

However, the MCD assessment can be applied every six years. The last request was made in 2012 and applied on the property tax rolls in 2013. Hamilton Council member Carla Fiehrer said last week she “would take this much more serious” if the MCD didn’t wait 12 years. The earliest the MCD could have requested an increased assessment was in 2018, applying it in 2019.

In an email chain between Butler County Administrator Judi Boyko and Lodor, it was requested by the commissioners that the MCD “quantify (the) benefit to Butler County properties/owners if a state capital grant was secured, meaning what would the properties/owners see in (a) reduced assessment if an alternative funding source was identified?”

Lodor said the rate “is not my decision” as it’s reviewed and evaluated by the board of directors and approved by the board and the Conservancy Court. She added, “It is difficult to project what the savings might be.”

“The projects we are seeking state funding would provide construction funding to rehabilitate the upstream dam walls of the Germantown, Taylorsville and Englewood dams,” according to her April 5 email to Boyko. “All three dams are upstream of Butler County and stored flood waters this week (of April 1).”

She added, if they are successful in receiving state funding, “the amount of grant funding would be factored into the rate evaluation, and it could result in a lower rate. At this time I cannot be more specific.”


Due to public concern and questions regarding recent Miami Conservancy District assessments, Hamilton City Council has asked the MCD Board and its general manager to meet. The district will have a short presentation and allow questions and comments from the public.

The meeting is set for 6 p.m. Thursday in City Council Chambers at 345 High St.

Additionally, residents and business owners can appeal now until April 24, the Miami Conservancy District’s assessment that takes effect next year at

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