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Published: Friday, 11/14/2008

Don't raise fee on sales, real estate agents say

BY ALEX M. PARKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Local real estate agents are coming out against a proposed increase to Lucas County's real estate conveyance fee, claiming it will hurt residents who are trying to sell their homes.

"I don't think it's going to make someone walk away from a deal, but it's an additional hardship on homeowners," said Donna Pollex, a Realtor with Loss Realty Group.

She appeared at a news conference yesterday with Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop, who also has voiced his opposition to the plan. Also at the conference were Linda Pizzuto, also a Realtor with Loss Realty, and Mike Kajfasz, vice president at Chicago Title Insurance Co.

"I'm not against all tax in-creases," Mr. Konop said. "I'm against dumb tax increases."

Commissioner Pete Gerken has proposed raising the county's conveyance fee - currently $3 for every $1,000 of real estate sold - by $1 to fund the Lucas County Improvement Corp., the county's economic development agency, which has suffered budget woes since the city of Toledo cut most of its funding.

Using the conveyance fee to fund economic development for the county was one of the key recommendations of a report from former University of Toledo President Dan Johnson. The report also recommended restructuring the LCIC's board and its mission statement.

The fee is a charge to anyone who sells real estate property. Counties in Ohio can charge anywhere from $1 to $4 for every $1,000 of property transferred.

While the Toledo Board of Realtors has yet to issue a statement on the matter, CEO Paula Hiett said the organization's board of directors has voted to oppose the increase. She was not at yesterday's news conference.

Mr. Kajfasz said raising the conveyance fee would be a burden for those who are facing foreclosure and are trying to sell their homes. "I don't understand how this is going to help economic development when you're charging more for people to live here," he said.

Before voting on an increase, the commissioners must hold two public hearings on the issue. They scheduled the first hearing for 2 p.m. Nov. 25; a second hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. Dec. 2.

Yesterday, Mr. Gerken said his proposal to raise the fee was based on the recommendation of Mr. Johnson's report to reform the LCIC. He said by helping to create jobs, it could help the housing industry.

"People need to have jobs to buy houses. People need to have jobs to get credit. People need to have jobs to sustain here," Mr. Gerken said.

"I understand their frustration. But if we don't do anything, it's going to get worse."

Tina Skeldon Wozniak, the president of the commissioners, issued a statement saying she had not yet made up her mind on the issue, and looked forward to discussing it during the hearings.

Contact Alex M. Parker at:

aparker@theblade.com

or 419-724-6107.



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