A Recent Newcomers Impression of Longton

Started by Sweetz, January 12, 2023, 01:13:59 PM

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Sweetz

I just finished reading all of the posts that "CCarl" wrote on this Forum. 

 I would have to agree with a couple of those observations so far even though I have only been here for six months.  I am hoping that those who are charged with the well being of our City, or those who have been living here for years might get some benefit from a newcomers view.  Why?  Because as human nature would have it, we get used to changes that happen ever so slowly and incrementally.  But a newcomer sees the results of HOW those incremental changes have actually shaped up all at once.  Maybe they can even see a cliff ahead and call attention to it too.

  Six months ago I bought a house in the City of Longton.  I was unable to see the property before buying it which is not too uncommon a thing now days especially if you live a great distance away.  I had to make a decision and go by Google satellite images, whatever information I could pull out of the Realtor, disclosers, pictures and a rather skimpy Inspection Report that previous potential buyers had already done.  As it turned out, another buyer was also in the process of having their offer written up and the Realtor said that if I wanted the house, I should get mine in at the same time...(yeah...I know, but).  I had to buy risking what I already knew against what I simply couldn't find out.  This was my 7th try to buy a house. 

 On the drive here and before dusk set, I was greeted with lush and green rolling hills, farmland as far as the eyes can see, cattle, horses and full ponds dotting the entire landscape.  I was thrilled and felt very fortunate and looked forward to settling and opening my business here.

Once I arrived, my optimism vanished as quickly as my eyes could take in the conditions that surrounded me.  I strained in the darkness to see if the main business street had any potential possibilities to reopen my business once again.  Surely I must have turned down the wrong street when entering town?  Seeing nothing but mostly empty or delapitaded buildings among several other buildings such as City Hall and a bank, I thought that there has GOT be a different area that I have not found or reached yet...so I proceeded to go find my house instead. 

I ventured downtown two days later.  I went straight to City Hall so that I could inquire about where the rest of the business district was located...but was informed that I was pretty much standing in it.  My heart sank and my mind quickly raced. 
I need a plan "B"...OMG...what is it!?  Oh yes, I "was" going to wait another two years to file for Social Security, but obviously I would need to get that done right away...that's going to have to be plan "B".  Whew!  There was no way that I could open a business here from the actual looks of things.  The type of business I run would require a sound building structure with the ability to have the highest degree of security and have high visibility. I then decided to take a drive and check out the town.

Everywhere I drove, an average of 40% of the homes are either trashed or in need of some serious repair...little of this showed up in Google satellite street view...because as it turns out, those images were simply long outdated.  A higher than normal percentage of these houses are literally falling apart or are totally abandoned.  Sprinkled among these are some well cared for homes, and others that are somewhat inbetween like the one I managed to buy.  I told myself "this must be...freedom"? "People get to live however they want to here"?  But something did not set well, even so.  This is a City...there are not acres of land between houses...there is a City Council...surely there are some basic standards that residents should be expected to live or abide by...regardless of freedom...for their neighbors sake.  Right? Sort of? Wrong.

A profound sense of sadness and disappointment began to overtake me.  I was literally looking at what is destined to become a bonified Ghost Town if nothing is done to prevent it.  I invested and made my final home in a place that is falling apart year by year.  Businesses that were once thriving here are now gone...even the Post Office. All the buildings that are crumbling and still standing empty are an undeniable testimony that screams out this fact.  The school is only occupied by a small handfull of children and the rest of them are disbursed to other areas.  City Council leadership?  What have they been spending tax dollars on for all these decades if not to preserve and maintain a robust community?  Are they saying that "they have a plan" just like Brandon says when he gaslights us every time his mouth opens?  Are they secretly saving up tax dollars for a high speed rail system or perhaps to line the highways in Elk County with EV recharging stations? Or perhaps they waste it on things that are basically useless for building up a tiny community?  I can't say...I have not had the time to really DIG into it...but don't tell me not to believe my lying eyes when I am looking at the results.

I paid $58K for my fairly decent house with good bones.  It was immediately assessed upon the close of escrow for $62K...this is more than I paid for it and I came in at full market price.  How can this be?   Did everyone's property taxes go up?   I had not even lifted a paint brush or swung a hammer or made any improvements to a house that needs $40K in repairs to bring it back up to standards.  Yet, my property taxes for this year are $1600.  This is more than double what people in many other states pay for the same exact assessment amount...this includes some of the most expensive states.  I hesitate to even paint or landscape for fear of getting my taxes raised.  My head continues to turn on a swivel whenever I drive through the neighborhood to find what could possibly justify our high property taxes and I still cannot see that we are living anywhere near the ocean or Martha's Vineyard.  Why can't I see how well Longton is thriving the way that the City Council seems to?  Maybe I am just supposed to shut up and reimagine it? 

I will have to admit that I have met some fantastic people here.  THAT, in and of itself is worth sticking around for. 

My question...if anyone could be so kind to answer, would be (for starters)...What criteria and documentation is being submitted to the Treasurer to justify the mill levy that is being used to calculate property taxes in our city? 
Certainly our Council is not expecting people to keep paying higher and higher taxes while Longton continues to circle the drain and while property crumbles and values plummet?  Why do I feel as if I will eventually be taxed right out of my own sarcophagus before I can lay down and take my final breath?

CCarl

I wish 'people get to live however they want to here'. But Longton's mayor is dusting off ordinances, trying to restrict what we are allowed to have on our property. The mayor's attempt will force poor people to leave Longton. I have little doubt that that is what she wants. I think she envisions Kansas Ave. as Santa Monica Blvd. Rural America is different from urban America, we value property differently then urbanites. Our mayor is an urbanite, a fish out of water in Elk County.

I was also disappointed in the business district when I moved here [a dozen years ago]. Who wouldn't be? But look around at Moline, Elk City, Howard, Severy, Elk Falls; all are just as dilapidated and dying, if not dead. Sorry to say, but City Council and County Commissioners are not the saviors. They do little other than complicate our problems. In fact they, along with State and federal governments, are the reason Longton is a ghost town waiting to happen. Those misfits are responsible for both Taxation and Regulation, the two primary causes of our poverty. They have sucked the wealth out of rural America, and you are seeing the result. Welcome to the party.

There is only one solution, one way through this, one way to save dead/dying Longton, and that is private ownership with private enterprise. That is the only way to survive the coming onslaught, and both are essentially just thinking locally and acting locally.

I also wish I could beg you to open your business in Longton. We need it, obviously. But, if your business needs visibility and security, I will not encourage you, and I will tell you not to invest in repairs to your home in Longton, either. Yes, your property taxes will go sky high(er) if/when you do, and you will not realize an economic return within your expected lifetime. I will tell you to relocate to Sedan, or Winfield, and add yourself to their diverse business community and marketplace. And a home in either of those communities stands a better chance of not costing you any of your investment over time.

Sweetz

Sounds like you are suggesting that I should cut my losses, sell my house as is, then get out of Elk County? 

Please describe the "coming onslaught"...is this strictly in regards to higher taxes??  What else do you see?

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