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3 Red Flags that a ‘Mortgage Rescuer’ Is Really a Fake

PHOTO: Here are three red flags of a mortgage rescue scam.

[Scammers and fraudsters want to separate you from your money – but ABC News can help stop them. Each day of National Consumer Protection Week, The ABC News Fixer will highlight a new scam, con or bamboozle and teach you how to keep from becoming a victim. And if you have a consumer problem that needs fixing, tell us about it HERE.]

Many homeowners were hit hard in the recession, as they fought to stay in their homes amid job losses and declining incomes.

And sadly, those struggling homeowners have become easy marks for “mortgage rescue” con artists.

American homeowners have lost millions to mortgage modification scams in recent years. In a typical scam, the homeowner is promised they’ll get a new loan with better terms if they first pay a large, upfront fee and then continue to send payments to the modification company.

The problem is the scam artists just pocket the money, while the consumer falls further behind and into foreclosure.

Here are three red flags of a mortgage rescue scam:

  • The company guarantees it can get your loan modified by your lender and seeks an upfront fee for its services.
  • The mortgage relief pitch invokes government programs in a bid to seem legitimate.
  • The company may ask you to sign over the deed to your home while they work on your issue.

The Federal Trade Commission’s Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS) Rule makes it illegal for a company to collect any fees until the homeowner has actually received an offer of relief from his lender and accepted it.

But be careful. Some shady operators have tried to get around the MARS Rule by falsely saying they are working with a lawyer. That’s because lawyers are allowed to accept upfront fees for legal work.
If you want to hire an attorney to help you with financial issues, make sure he or she is licensed to practice law in your state, and check out the lawyer’s disciplinary record with the state bar association. Ask friends and relatives to recommend a trusted attorney who has experience in helping people with foreclosure issues.

If you’re in over your head financially, contact your lender or get help from a HUD-approved housing counselor at

You can find more info about mortgage scams from the FTC HERE.

And remember: Never send your monthly mortgage payment to an outside company that claims it will modify your loan. Your loan payments should go to your lender.

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Insider: New state rep creates foreclosure confusion

Some residents in the 6th House District in parts of Detroit, Ecorse and River Rouge got eye-opening notices in the mail last week from their new state representative about available options for dealing their home foreclosures.

The problem is that some homeowners who received the letters are not actually facing foreclosure for unpaid taxes.

When the residents called state Rep. Stephanie Chang‘s office to say they weren’t in foreclosure, the Detroit Democrat and her staff quickly realized they had made what Chang called an “unfortunate and horrible error.”

“My deepest and sincerest apologies to all those who received erroneous letters,” Chang wrote in an email to constituents Tuesday. “I can understand the immense stress this may have caused you and your family. My staff and I will work as diligently as we can to resolve this issue.”

In an interview Wednesday, Chang said she and her staff worked off a list of 1,500 properties in the district facing foreclosure that came from the Wayne County treasurer’s office. Chang said her office is “re-examining the systems various parties use to cut the list,” but did not elaborate on how the error was made.

She wasn’t sure how many homeowners in her district got the letter. The 6th District stretches from neighborhoods northeast of downtown, through the central district and into southwest Detroit, River Rouge and Ecorse.

Chang, who took office in January, said she’s trying to carry on the same work her predecessors, former Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Steve Tobocman, did in assisting residents facing foreclosure for unpaid taxes in getting help and using a new payment plan lawmakers approved last year.

“We are trying to rebuild neighborhoods (and) keep people in their homes so we can stem the tide of blight in our communities,” Chang said.

If residents believe they received a letter in error, they can call Chang’s office at (517) 373-0823.

A push for ‘sunshine’

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce, one of the more powerful special interest groups in Lansing, typically focuses on state business tax and regulatory policies.

But this year, the state chamber is wading into a budgetary issue that doesn’t get a lot of attention: The structure of the state’s budget bills.

Every year, after Gov. Rick Snyder presents his $54 billion overall state budget, it gets parsed off into separate state agency budgets and examined by subcommittees in the House and Senate.

But by late May or early June, the appropriations committees in the House and Senate roll all of the state agency budgets into one big omnibus general government budget.

All of the education-related spending (K-12 schools, community colleges and universities) is rolled up into its own omnibus bill, which Michigan Information Research Service has dubbed the “School ‘bus.’”

This has been the general practice since the late 1990s, and the state chamber wants the Legislature to stop it.

“It’s time to park the bus and dismantle it to some extent,” said Tricia Kinley, the chamber’s senior director of tax and regulatory reform. “We think in the interest of transparency for voters, a little sunshine never hurts.”

Kinley said the omnibus bills are more politically safe for legislators to cast votes for, instead of taking votes on individual departmental budgets.

“We think this has taken a lot of power and oversight away from legislators,” Kinley said Tuesday on the Michigan’s Big Show radio program. “Because they’re forced to take a vote. … We think that approach has worn out its welcome.”

Prop 1 squabble persists

The two main spokesmen for the campaigns squaring off over the Proposal 1 sales tax increase are increasingly lobbing comments in public at each other.

On Tuesday, the head of an opposition group, the Coalition Against Higher Taxes and Special Interests Deals, accused the proponents of waging a campaign of “scare tactics” by warning about unsafe road conditions if voters defeat the sales tax increase.

“I’ll be the first one to stand up and say our roads need work, a lot of work, but that doesn’t mean you make a bad choice to spend money on the roads,” said Paul Mitchell, the Saginaw County millionaire running the opposition group.

Mitchell has zeroed in on the roughly $700 million in non-transportation spending that would be triggered by voter approval of an increase in the 6 percent sales tax to 7 percent.

“The yes campaign is misleading the voters in terms both that this is the only answer and that if we don’t fix the roads, people are dying,” Mitchell said on Michigan’s Big Show.

Roger Martin, spokesman for Safe Roads Yes, quickly responded in the next segment of Tuesday’s radio show.

“It’s good to know that he believes in unicorns and fairy dust,” Martin said of Mitchell.

Martin noted Mitchell and other opponents have not offered an alternative proposal that doesn’t require “devastating cuts” to education and other parts of the state budget to generate the needed $1.2 billion more for roads.

“There is not a viable Plan B. It does not exist,” Martin said. “… There’s a number of different ways you could come up with $1.2 billion. I don’t think any of them would pass the Legislature.”

Contributor: Chad Livengood

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Red & White comes down

After a long back-and-forth between the town and the building’s owner, a demolition crew on Wednesday began razing the former Red White grocery store in Clayton.

The town condemned the building at West Front and O’Neill streets in 2012 because it was crumbling. The owner, Katie Smith, tried to work out a plan to renovate the former store, but it never panned out.

In 2014, Smith appealed the town’s demolition order to earn more time to bring the building up to code. However, a judge agreed that Smith had had her chance to change things, and he upheld the town’s decision to demolish the building.

The town paid Greenway Waste Solutions about $35,000 to raze the structure. On Monday, crews in protective suits and masks removed siding from the front of the asbestos-laden building, and two days later, excavators tore down the structure.

Paul Bergmann stopped to take photos of the demolition. Bergmann, who was visiting a friend in Clayton, was walking a dog when he noticed the building going down.

“I remember when this thing was operational,” Bergmann said. “It did pretty good, and then 10 to 20 years ago, it started to poop out. It’s just sat there, just doing nothing.”

Smith didn’t own the building during the time it became unsafe. In 2006, she sold the store to Robert and Patricia Bryant, but Robert Bryant said health problems kept him from properly maintaining the property.

Facing foreclosure, the Bryants deeded the property back to Smith, the lien holder, in November 2012. The transaction occurred days after Clayton building inspectors gave the Bryants 60 days to fix the property or have it torn down.

The Clayton Town Council gave Smith a reprieve, hoping an investor would step forward to restore the building. Clayton resident Randy Messick showed interest in the property, applied for a work permit, painted the storefront and lined up engineers. But when council members wanted proof of financial backing and renovation plans, Messick provided neither.

In February 2014, the Town Council voted to raze the building.

The town will place a lien on the property to recover the demolition cost. Under North Carolina law, liens must be paid before a property can be sold to another party, meaning Smith would have to repay the town before she could sell the building.

A structure has sat on the Red White lot for more than a century. Clayton historian Pam Baumgartner said the area near West Front and O’Neill streets was one of the first to develop after the N.C. Railroad Co. built a rail line from Goldsboro to Charlotte through Clayton.

In 1853, the first leg of the rail line opened, and the railroad company built a wood-fueling stop on property near the present West Front and O’Neill streets, according to a history of the town penned by Baumgartner and Todd Johnson.

The wood-fueling stop was on land owned by Isaac and Sarah Stallings. After her husband died, Sarah Stallings sold lots around the wood-fueling station to residents who built stores in the area.

A photo from 1909 shows a one-story wooden building on the lot where the Red White eventually did business.

“When she started selling off lots, that was a prominent area for things,” Baumgartner said. “It was a popular place.”

Dunn: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104.

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The Technicality That Could Save Obamacareand the Supreme Courts Reputation

Could the Supreme Court dodge a bullet by dismissing King v. Burwell, the case that could kill Obamacare, on procedural grounds?

Maybe, says a growing chorus of legal observers. It turns out that one of the most basic requirements of a legal case—that the plaintiffs have standing to sue—is deficient in King. Starting with King himself.

Let’s back up a bit. Cases like King are, invariably, initiated and litigated by large public interest organizations. This is true on the right and left. For example, Edie Windsor may have been the “named plaintiff” of 2013’s same-sex marriage case, but it was the ACLU (and its New York affiliate) that conceived the case, and hired and paid the law firm of Paul, Weiss and their star lawyer, Robbie Kaplan. 

In the case of the Obamacare challenge, the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute—funded by an array of industries, led by the energy sector, but including Google and Facebook too, as well as the Koch brothers—is paying the bills, including that of the Jones Day law firm.

But while interest groups may pay the bills, courts can only hear “cases and controversies” in which someone is actually harmed. In Windsor’s case, that was easy; because her marriage wasn’t recognized, she had to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes. 

In King, it’s not so easy. Recall that the specific issue in King is whether federal tax credits are available to everyone who qualifies, or only people living in states with state-run exchanges. The case rises or falls on the phrase “established by the State.”

Now, how could someone be harmed by getting a tax break?

Well, as the Fourth Circuit said, “if [plaintiffs] were not eligible for the premium tax credit, they would qualify for the unaffordability exemption… and therefore would not be subject to the tax penalty for failing to maintain minimum essential coverage.”

Got it? For a very narrow band of people, their income before the tax credit makes insurance too expensive. But with the tax credit added, now they have to purchase insurance or face the penalty.

This is already an extremely tenuous form of injury: because of one provision of Obamacare, I’m not eligible for another provision of Obamacare, so please destroy Obamacare. (According to most observers, the entire system will collapse without the tax credits.) 

But, theoretically, it’s enough to get to the merits.

So, how do you find the people who are just poor enough and just rich enough to be on the cusp? Turns out, those people are the ones for whom insurance costs would be right around 8% of their annual income—the threshold for the unaffordability exemption. If the costs were above that threshold, then they’d be exempt. But if the costs were below it, because of the tax credit, then they’d have to enroll.

One way to find the 8-percenters would be to file a class action, but for some reason, Jones Day didn’t do that. (At oral argument, one circuit court judge said this was because “nobody wants what you’re after here”—i.e., the loss of a tax credit.) Instead, CEI and its lawyers set out to find just those people. (They also had to live in a state without a state-run exchange, but that was easy.)

Unfortunately for CEI, some clever sleuthing by Mother Jones has led numerous legal experts, and the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page, to question the four that they found.

First, the case is a ticking time bomb, because three of the four are about to be eligible for Medicare, thus wiping out any potential injury from Obamacare.

Three of them, as colorfully reported by Stephanie Mencimer in Mother Jones, are also wackos.

Wrote Mencimer, “one has called [President Obama] the ‘anti-Christ’ and said he won election by getting ‘his Muslim people to vote for him.’” Another couldn’t stop talking about Benghazi. A third has no idea how she even got involved in the case.

Legally, however, this is all just a sideshow. Let’s look at the nuts and bolts of each plaintiff’s standing claim—and see where it falls apart.

David King. The name plaintiff in the case, David King, is a veteran, and thus eligible for free medical care with no premiums whatsoever. He even enrolled with the VA (he says, no joke, that he did it for the coupons at Lowe’s). Despite this, he said in court papers that he was “not eligible for health insurance from the government or any employer.” That statement is clearly false. Asked about this by The Wall Street Journal, King said he didn’t recall his lawyers asking about his veteran status.

Moreover, Mother Jones found that, because King is a smoker, the cheapest insurance plan available to him, even with the tax credit, would cost 12% of his income. In other words, he is doubly exempt: first because he’s a veteran, and second because he would already qualify for the unaffordability exemption. The King of King v. Burwell has no standing—twice over.

Rose Luck.  The inaptly named Rose Luck filed her papers using the address of an extended-stay hotel; she had just lost her home through foreclosure, and had piles of huge medical bills. Even with the subsidy, the cheapest insurance available to her would cost $322 per month, or 8.5% of her income. That’s above the threshold. She has no standing. (Indeed, she may also lack standing because the hotel address doesn’t count as a legal residence.)

Two down, two to go. 

In fact, the Fourth Circuit, noting that King and Luck appeared not to reach the income thresholds, based their standing decision only on the other two plaintiffs. Namely:

Doug Hurst. Like King, Doug Hurst is a veteran, although he apparently is not enrolled with the VA and so this status may not have been known to the Fourth Circuit. Since he is eligible for free insurance, though, Durst wouldn’t be penalized for not purchasing insurance under Obamacare. Moreover, he, like King, falsely stated that he was “not eligible for health insurance from the government or any employer.”  This is clearly not the case. It is hard to see how Hurst could possibly have standing to sue.

Brenda Levy. That leaves Brenda Levy, the 64-year-old woman who didn’t know she was a party to the case, and, when confronted by Mother Jones’s Mencimer, said, “I don’t like the idea of throwing people off their health insurance,” which, of course, is what would happen to 8 million people if she prevailed in her lawsuit.

More importantly, Levy’s employer listed her total income as $10,000. If that is her total income, she is completely exempt from Obamacare.  CEI has subsequently argued that she may have other income, but it has not established this.

So, let’s review: The only one of the four plaintiffs who might possibly have standing is someone who doesn’t know how she got involved in the case, hasn’t attended any of the court proceedings because she “didn’t think the case was going anywhere,” has expressed opposition to the case’s primary impact—and has not documented income anywhere near the level necessary to establish injury.

Legal observers quoted in Slate, Bloomberg Politics, Mother Jones, and The Wall Street Journal agreed that, at a minimum, it shows that CEI had to dredge the bottom of the barrel to find any eligible plaintiffs, as that Fourth Circuit judge suggested. More importantly, as they’ve all noted, if there’s no standing, there’s no case. And the entire lawsuit now hangs by the very slender reed of Brenda Levy’s alleged additional income.

Now, courts sometimes brush aside standing concerns when they want to get to the merits of a case. But this isn’t just any case; it’s yet another high-profile political showdown. And some justices may find themselves between a conservative rock and a legal hard place, since it would take interpretive yoga to read the statute the way CEI suggests. 

Standing could offer a way out. It would allow justices to avoid the statutory interpretation entirely. And, most likely, it would be the last time this issue arises. Not only are these particular plaintiffs about to be eligible for Medicare, but the train is rapidly leaving the station on Obamacare in general. It’s hard to see the right-wing alliance holding out much longer, as even congressional Republicans are looking at reform, rather than repeal. 

Oh, and another thing. Dismissing for lack of standing might also be what the law requires.

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Estero retiree suing bank after surprise foreclosure – WZVN


A retired policeman got the surprise of his life when he returned from vacation and found his Estero home locked up and a foreclosure sign out front.

But he says he wasn’t behind on his mortgage payments. Now he’s suing the bank and the company who he says broke into his home to chain up his doors.

It all happened last November when 66-year-old Mike Tomasovick, a retired Chicago police officer, received a call from one of his neighbors while he was out of town.

“Asked me what was going on with the house because there’s a sign in your window saying the house is vacant and unsecure,” he said.

Knowing he was up to date on his payments, Tomasovich immediately contacted his mortgage lender – Fifth Third Bank.

“Fifth third said they got some sort of complaint that the house was in a state of disrepair, and they sent somebody out to check on it,” he said.

That somebody was an employee of a company called “Field Asset Services.”

But instead of seeing the clear signs that someone was living there — like a fully stocked fridge and a fully furnished home — Tomasovich says the employee chained up his lanai, and posted a sign — essentially foreclosing on his home.

“I mean, these guys broke into my house. For what reason, I don’t know,” said Tomasovich.

As a result, Tomasovich and his attorney filed suit against Fifth Third Bank and Field Asset Services — claiming both were negligent and damaged Tomasovich’s reputation.

“A bank never has the authority to enter anyone’s home, barring a court order or something else,” said attorney Harris Katz.

“I just want to stop them from doing this stuff,” said Tomasovich. “They can’t do these things. I mean, you just can’t break into somebody’s house.”

Field Asset Services tells us they are not commenting on this case publicly and our calls to Fifth Third Bank were never returned.

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Right-wing Christians screech about ‘KGB’ spies after city simply checks …

A Florida pastor claims his religious rights were violated after city officials investigated whether his church had the necessary permits on file.

Pastor Mike Olive operates the Common Ground Church and Coffee Bar in Lake Worth, which recently took over code enforcement from the fire department.

The city does not require churches or nonprofit organizations to pay a business license tax, but they are required to obtain a use and occupancy certificate – which officials use to ensure they don’t pose public safety hazards or break any local, state, or federal laws.

Olive became alarmed last month, when a code officer stopped by the church and recorded video evidence on his cell phone.

“We had one gentleman come in from the city wearing a hoodie, and he was hiding the camera in the pockets of his hoodie,” Olive said.

News accounts of the incident compared the code officer to KGB spies and suggested city officials were waging war on religion.

The code officer, Gerald Coscia, found the church may have been overcrowded and possibly lacked a sufficient emergency exit, and he said the building likely failed to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

He determined that Olive’s landlord, Mission Education International, had a valid business license for the coffee shop with an exemption for charitable organizations, but the church lacked a use and occupancy certificate.

City officials notified the landlord by letter and outlined what they needed from the church to issue the proper permit, but Olive claims the investigation violates “the separation of church and state.”

“I think it’s very important that people are not afraid to practice that faith — whatever that faith is,” Olive said.

The conservative Liberty Counsel sent a letter to the city on his behalf, demanding they stop requiring churches to pay for the business licenses.

The city manager, Mike Bornstein, said the dispute is apparently based on some misunderstanding, because churches are not obligated to pay those fees.

They are, however, required to submit to inspections to obtain the use and occupancy certificate to ensure they’re safe for public use.

Liberty Counsel claims in its news release that the city threatened the landlord with foreclosure and daily $500 fines, but the letter sent by officials makes no mention of those penalties.

In fact, the letter – which was not among the documents shared by Liberty Counsel — offers any assistance necessary to make sure the certificate would be issued.

“The application form is simple to complete as your organization has completed one prior for the coffee bar,” the letter reads. “We also can schedule the required inspection at your earliest convenience and apprise you of any improvements that may be required of the space or limitation on the number of occupants allowed.”

“Please be assured that the City has the best interests of the public in mind and wants to ensure there are no life safety issues with regard to the operations,” the letter adds.

Watch this news report posted online by WPEC-TV:

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5 Best alternatives to foreclosure

The thought of having a home foreclosed is a terrifying image. It represents the loss of equity and also your home. The process of entering into foreclosure means a borrower has failed to adhere to the terms their lender set forth. Ideally, a homeowner would want to avoid foreclosure and try to make any other viable arrangement. There are several other options besides foreclosure.

Foreclosure Alternatives

  1. Family

No one wants to borrow money from his or her parents, but home foreclosure could be the exceptional reason to consider asking for assistance. If you have family and friends with available money to lend toward avoiding foreclosure, you should take the opportunity to explain your situation and ask for help. Because a default in mortgage payments is the number one reason for foreclosure, asking for financial assistance is a viable option to foreclosure.

  1. Liquidate Assets

If you have other real estate, consider selling it immediately to fund your mortgage solvency plans. Any money that is being put away in a savings account needs to be tapped to avoid moving further into foreclosure.

  1. A Friendly Foreclosure

Friendly foreclosure is the alternative to a typical foreclosure. Where a normal foreclosure is a fight between borrower and lender for control over a home loan, a friendly foreclosure is where the borrower acquiesces to the terms of the agreement presented by the lender. You agree with the bank and submit to the term of the foreclosure, and the bank halts further fees and surcharges.

  1. Bankruptcy

If you are considering bankruptcy, you should secure the assistance of a legal advisor. A bankruptcy can be very detrimental to your financial health. Bankruptcies are all different, and while it may not stop a foreclosure, it can slow the process to give you time to explore your options.

  1. Negotiate

The mortgage lender does not want the house they helped purchase house. They want the money owed to the on the purchase of a home. It’s to the benefit of any lender to seek a settlement or arrangement with the goal of recouping the cost of the money that was lent. Reach out to your financial institution and speak to a loan officer.

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Traffic control changes up for vote

PIQUA – The Piqua City Commission will be holding their third reading Tuesday evening on proposed changes to eight intersections relating to the Safe Routes to School grant. The commission is expected to vote on this ordinance, Ordinance No. 3-15, following the third reading during the Piqua City Commission meeting Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m. According to city engineer Amy Havenar at the last commission meeting on Feb. 17, the proposed traffic control changes came out of “recommendations of what we can do to help improve the safety of the children walking.”

There were growing concerns between the commissioners at the previous commission meeting regarding the proximity of the intersection Broadway and North to Piqua Catholic. Commissioner John Martin proposed removing Broadway and North from the list of intersections that will potentially lose the traffic lights there. Commissioner Judy Terry also suggested adding a four-way to one of the intersections along College due to “the traffic not being stopped from Park Avenue all the way to High Street.” Ultimately, the commission decided to wait until the third reading before making any changes.

The following intersections will be changed to a four-way stop: Park and Westview; Park and Parkway; Downing and W. High; and Downing and Ash. The following intersections will have the existing traffic lights removed and replaced with a two-way stop: College and Ash with Ash being the stop street; College and Greene with Greene being the stop street; College and North with North being the stop street; and Broadway and North with North being the stop street.

On the order of new business, the commission will be holding its first reading of Ordinance No. 4-15, which is seeking to raise the fees to use park facilities in Section 94.21 of the Piqua Code. According to the staff report from the public works department, “the February Park Board meeting, board members unanimously approved raising the fees relating to use of Park Facilities.” The staff report stated that the city last raised the price of those fees in 2009, and the increase is needed to “help offset the operating cost and maintenance on the buildings.” Residents living within Piqua city limits will be able to receive a discounted rate.

For Mote Park, the new fees for non-city residents will be $100/day instead of the current rate of $75/day to use the community center on Mondays through Thursdays. For Fridays through Sundays as well as on holidays, the rate will be $150/day versus the current $110/day.

At Fountain Park, the fee for non-city residents using the dining hall and kitchen will be $100/day instead of $75/day on Mondays through Thursdays. For Fridays through Sundays as well as on holidays, the rate will be $125/day versus $100/day. For the Fountain Park pavilion, the fee will be $100/day instead of $75/day on Mondays through Thursdays. For Fridays through Sundays as well as on holidays, the rate will be $150/day versus $120/day.

The commission will also vote on six possible resolutions Tuesday evening. The first resolution on the agenda is the emergency Resolution No. R-31-15, which will allow the city to purchase of road salt for the Street Department from Valley Asphalt Corp. The cost is not to exceed $160/ton nor a total of $110,000. The public works department is looking to purchase 500 tons. According to the staff report, the current supply of salt is “dangerously low.”

The next two resolutions on the agenda are “resolutions authorizing purchase orders for three Police cruisers and for the purchase and installation of specialized equipment in Police vehicles,” according to the staff report. Resolution No. R-32-15 will authorize a purchase order to Lebanon Ford for the purchase of three Ford Police Interceptor Utility vehicles. Resolution No. R-33-15 will authorize a purchase order to KE Rose Company for the purchase and installation of specialized equipment in Police vehicles. The total amount budgeted is $117,942, and the expected total expenditure is $106,038.

The final three resolutions concern property purchases for the cost of $1 per property. Unity National Bank owns three properties due to unsuccessful foreclosure sales at auction and is looking to “donate the properties to the City of Piqua Land Reutilization Program,” according to the staff report. The aim of the Land Reutilization Program is “to facilitate placing non-productive properties back into a productive use.” The properties will be either be renovated or demolished to rid the property of “any substandard housing conditions found at these locations.”

The following properties are:

*Resolution No. R-34 –15 is for the purchase of property located at 534-536 W. Water St.

*Resolution No. R-35 –15 is for the purchase of property located at 628-630 W. Water St.

*Resolution No. R-36 –15 is for the purchase of property located at 403-405 South St.

While the properties will cost $1, the city will have to pay for “a couple hundred dollars in recording fees incidental to the transfer of the property deed.” The expected cost is $200.

The next Piqua City Commission meeting will be on Tuesday, March 3, at 7:30 p.m. in Commission Chambers on the second floor of the municipal building at 201 W. Water St. in Piqua. Piqua City Commission meetings are held at 7:30 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of every month.

Sam Wildow can be contacted at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall

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Salida and promoter finalize deal for Aug. 21-22 festival with Mumford & Sons

SALIDA — Last fall, Gov. John Hickenlooper called the mayor of Salida with an offer for a music festival.

“He more or less said ‘I got a deal for you, bud,’” said Mayor Jim Dickson. “But don’t take too long. I’m giving you first choice.”

On Monday, city leaders announced British folk rockers Mumford Sons would headline a one-time, 35,000-person, two-day camping festival in Salida Aug. 21-22. Salida is one of four U.S. cities included in the Gentlemen of the Road Stopovers tour.

“It’s without question one of Colorado’s hidden gems,” Hickenlooper said of Salida in a video announcing the festival’s line-up to local cheers in the city’s packed SteamPlant Theater Monday morning. “It’s not a resort town. It’s a real town. This festival will be an integration of town and festival. Every local bar, every local business, all the people who live in Salida and those who come to explore the town and enjoy the festival are going to be part of this experience.”

Madison House Presents, out of Boulder, is organizing the festival, which also toured in 2012 and 2013. Other acts include the Flaming Lips, Dawes, Jenny Lewis, The Vaccines, TuneYards, James Vincent McMorrow, JEFF the Brotherhood and Blake Mills.

The promoter has been working with the city and county for months, hammering out a contract. That deal gives the city $1 for every ticket sold and about $10,000 to use the city’s Vandaveer Ranch property, where it plans to develop a neighborhood. Madison House Presents is paying for a city-hired liaison to work with the community and providing about $63,000 to cover the cost of city services, including, police and fire protection. The organizer also is contributing $40,000 for a new pedestrian bridge for the city. The concert, if it sells 35,000 tickets, will lure more than twice the population of Chaffee County and almost seven times the population of Salida.

“This is a really big event for our community and it’s a little, just a little bit overwhelming but I think that Salida is up for the challenge. We are really looking forward to being able to showcase our community and all that Salida and all that Chaffee County has to offer to the world,” said City Administrator Dara MacDonald. “We will no doubt be challenged by this event but I do think we will rise to the challenge.”

In a video kicking off the announcement Monday, a host of locals posed with blank placards that were later overwritten with lyrics from Mumford and Sons’ hit song “I Will Wait.” The video drew chuckles when a pair of uniformed police officers held up a sign with the words “I will wait for you.”

Madison House Presents representative Michael Sampliner said the festival organizer searched “the entire nation” before selecting Salida as one of four U.S. hosts for the tour, which will also stop in Seaside, New Jersey, Waverly, Iowa and Walla Walla, Washington.

“The Gentlemen of the Road Stopovers are all about live music,” read a statement from Mumford Sons released Monday. “We get to put them on in towns not normally frequented by touring bands. We deliberately looks for towns that have something unique, or some vibe of which they are proud, explore them and enjoy what they have to offer.”

Tickets for the festival, which go on sale Friday, March 6 and 10 a.m. are $199 and that includes free camping. Sampliner said the campgrounds will open Wednesday and close Sunday.

The single-stage festival will host music Friday and Saturday. Madison House Presents is organizing late-night and midday concerts in Salida’s historic downtown from Thursday through Saturday night. Shuttles will run consistently between the campgrounds at the festival venue and downtown.

Sampliner said the impact of the festival on the region will eclipse Salida’s hosting of the Pro Challenge cycling race and maybe even the city’s annual FIBArk festival, which draws as many as 20,000 visitors every June.

Sampliner urged local businesses to “stock up, stock up and stock up.”

“The method of this is to sit in this town, integrate ourselves deeply into this town for two, three four days,” Sampliner said. “I think your stores and your businesses will be much harder hit than the bike race.”

Every bed in town will be occupied and already Madison House Presents has taken a chunk of the city’s roughly 1,000 hotel rooms for its event staff. MacDonald estimated the impact to the town will be “almost like adding another month of sales and lodging tax revenue” to the town’s coffers. In August 2014 the city collected about $100,000 in lodging and restaurant sales tax, accounting for roughly 22 percent of the month’s total sales tax revenue. Retail sales tax collections reached $290,000 in August 2014.

Festival organizers are already eyeing Chaffee County for smaller annual music festivals, said Bill Dvorak, the owner of Dvorak’s Rafting and Fishing Expeditions and a longtime promoter of Salida who remembers when the town almost dissolved in the 1980s, when homes were sold out of foreclosure for the price of one mortgage payment.

“It’s been fun to watch the evolution here in the last 30 years,” he said, adding he will soon chaperone a Boulder festival organizer who wants to set up a regional festival around Salida or Buena Vista. “I think it will be great for this community to become known as a musical venue.”

Community developer Jed Selby has been courting Madison House Presents for a major annual festival at the 274-acre ranch he owns inside Buena Vista’s town limits.

That venue, which boasts large, open fields and wooded enclaves surrounding a meandering creek, while “amazing,” requires “a lot more investigation and work” before it can host huge annual festivals, Sampliner said. The one-stop Salida festival is one way to begin scoping an annual event 25 miles away in Buena Vista, he said.

“There is a lot to be learned here. There are a lot of pieces here that we will learn,” Sampliner said.

Jason Blevins: 303-954-1374, or

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Ask Our Broker: The effects of anti-flipping rules


HUD has changed its flipping rules for 2015. Will that help or hurt real estate sales in the coming year?


Real estate flipping should not be seen as a big deal any more than quickly buying and selling stocks. In fact, real estate flipping in the best sense ought to be encouraged.

In every city there are rehabbers who buy homes, fix them up and then seek to quickly rent or sell them. This process actually is good for the marketplace because it turns ugly homes into desirable homes by improving the stock, reducing vacancies, and raising property values. (Local governments love flipping because higher values mean bigger property tax collections, and more flipping creates additional jobs.)

But, in the same way that some stock transactions are rife with fraud, there also is illegal flipping, a process which likely includes mortgage fraud, wire fraud and mail fraud.

For HUD, the problem has been how to encourage the social good represented by rehabbing versus the financial losses that result from fraud. If a home is financed with an FHA-backed mortgage, it is the FHA – an insurance program that protects lenders – that pays for the loss in a foreclosure.

In 2003, HUD established a rule under which it said it would not provide FHA insurance if a home had been re-sold within the past 90 days. The rule was designed to stop illegal flipping, but it also impacted legitimate rehabbers who could no longer quickly fix up and sell to borrowers who otherwise would qualify for FHA financing. No less important, the rule was widely picked up by private-sector lenders and investors, meaning the financing needed to buy property from rehabbers was largely missing.

HUD made several exceptions to the anti-flipping rule – for instance, it does not apply in presidentially declared disaster areas – but in general it has had the effect of making rehabbing more expensive because investors have to hold property for more time.

In 2010, with the real estate market in shambles, HUD suspended the anti-flipping rule in an effort to generate more real estate sales and continued the waiver until the end of 2014.

Now the waiver is gone and we’re back to the anti-flipping rule – no FHA-backed loans for most properties sold during the past 90 days. Will the rule reduce illegal flipping? That’s the hope. Will the rule stymie local real estate activity? Sure.

HUD has every reason to be wary of illegal flipping because when FHA loans are involved, it’s the FHA reserves that take a hit in the event of a loss. The catch is that HUD also benefits from rising values – as home prices increase there’s more real estate equity and thus less risk of loss for insurance plans such as the FHA, VA and private mortgage insurance.

Will the government once-again simply waive the HUD rule? That seems unlikely, but perhaps it could be modified to say that no FHA-backed loans will be available for most properties re-sold during the past 60 days.

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