Sandusky schools call letter to tenants 'blackmail'; Waldock's tenants question the math
In the wake of voters approving Sandusky Schools' 5.4-mill levy, renters on properties owned by Robert Waldock are afraid he'll make good on his threat.
A letter dated Oct. 31 signed by Waldock informed residents a $4 increase in rent was coming if the levy passed. School officials were incensed by what they considered election blackmail.
The letter stated, "If the school levy passes, the taxes on your apartment will increase by $41-48 per year. This means you will pay an additional $4 per month just for the school levy on top of the normal $10-15 increase we normally budget ...Your vote matters!"
The letters were sent to properties managed by W-T Realty. W-T Realty manages 628 units Waldock owns in Sandusky, including the apartment complexes of Foxborough Commons, Arbor Arms, Lake Point, Monticello Arms, Country Set and Clinton Square.
But according to numbers provided by the Erie County Auditor's office, the average increase per apartment unit will be $25 a year.
"I'm not sure what's going on here," Sandusky assistant superintendent John Kaszonyi said. "It just doesn't look or sound right. To say rent will be increased if the levy passes, and then state they believe in good schools and education, it's contradicting."
Waldock could not be reached for comment despite at least a dozen phone calls and two in-person visits at the office during a 10-day period.
His residents are most confused about why the increase is $4 per apartment unit.
"I know everybody's got to make a buck," resident George Myler said. "But what the heck, if it costs one homeowner $14 a month then why are we each paying $4 more? There's a lot of residents living in these apartments. He's making out real good."
Myler said the math makes no sense to him.
With his apartment properties' taxable value listed at more than $3.2 million, Waldock now pays about $123,604 in school taxes annually and will pay $17,057 more when the levy goes into effect in January.
With the $4 increase per apartment, Waldock would bring in $30,144, almost double what he needs to break even on taxes.
"I'm just wondering what the heck is going on," said Sha'nice McCoy who resides at Foxborough Commons. "It looks like he's doubling what he needs to be. Why $4? Why not raise rent by a dollar or so and break even? Rent increases every year anyhow, it's not like he's going to lose any money."
All of Waldock's properties -- including two homes with market values greater than $2.1 million on the Cedar Point Chaussee -- have taxable values of $4 million.
Waldock paid $143,253 in taxes on all of these properties in 2007. He will pay $163,561, or $20,308 more, in 2008.
That would still leave about $10,000 profit from the $4 a month increase after he pays taxes on his apartments.
"Where is all that extra money going?" resident Shyla Walker asked. "He's a good guy, real nice, and I know he's doing business and business can be sticky, but a lot of us come to these places because we can't afford nowhere else. Now, we got to limit the lunch money or the little bit of allowance we pass to our kids."
Sandusky school board members said they are puzzled about the route Waldock is taking to cushion school taxes, but relieved the letter didn't affect the outcome of the levy.
"I'm glad this didn't prevent a positive outcome," school board president Faith Denslow said. "A lot of our families live in the properties he owns, and it came to them choosing their children's education over increased rent. I'm glad the members of our community chose education first."