The Swartz Report: Travel and Hospitality

When I wrote this month’s blog post, it was March 17th. Happy belated St. Patrick’s Day to all! I fondly remember the days of having a beverage or two, settling into Fuzzy’s South or the old Coach’s Bar, both in south Kansas City to start the festivities. If we were lucky enough to have the 17th fall on a Thursday or Friday, it was time to settle in for 12 hours of basketball for the first rounds of the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

While I have not participated in those days in years (actually decades 😊) I am acutely aware of these memories as many are not celebrating this day for the second consecutive year. However, we are heading in the right direction. And with patience, understanding and respect, we are on the verge of gathering with others for all events.

Travel and Hospitality

Travel and HospitalityEarlier today, I participated in two separate events relating to the travel and hospitality industry.

The airline industry reported the first day of 1M+ passengers since March 16th, 2020. Granted, this is aided by the Spring Break vacationers. But as more become vaccinated, the industry believes this to be the start of leisure travel picking up and moving closer to 2019 summer numbers.

Limited-service hotels will be the first to see increases in daily occupancy, but the full service and high-end hotels will continue to suffer until business travel commences. One suggested a business travel target date of September 10th as this follows the Labor Day weekend; the country should be in a position of herd immunity and conferences and conventions may be targeting this time frame to host large, in person events.

How does this affect the property tax world and valuations?

We will see…

Some jurisdictions have taken a proactive approach this year by reducing valuations on theatres and hotels. We’ve witnessed decreases ranging from 20-30% before appeals have been filed, as the county assessors are anticipating appeals on these types of properties.

We did not see this carry forward to the sit-down restaurant industry. This is interesting to me – while this industry adapted and has been creative to account for pickup service, the value of the seating/dining area has been diminished.  How do we account for this component of economic obsolescence? Clearly a factor (i.e. the pandemic) external to the property is driving down the valuation. But how is this measured when the business creates alternative methods to derive income and maintain business operations? Does this become a business valuation or the valuation of the real estate?

These are the questions taxpayers need to assess and address when contemplating the value of their property.

We are now in full swing – business personal property filings are due; real estate appeal deadlines will be occurring at the end of March, April, May and June; railcar property tax returns are due at the end of March, April and May and my golf game is suffering as a result. (Gladly, I may add!!!)

Thank you so much for continuing to read about my/our journey. As always, if you have questions, comments or concerns, please reach me at the following –

Stay safe, stay healthy and get vaccinated when the opportunity presents itself!

The Swartz Report: Now is the time to be proactive concerning your real estate valuations.

Happy belated Valentine’s Day as well as belated Happy Mardi Gras wishes. Between the Polar Vortex and the pandemic, it is hard to figure out what month we are in and what’s coming next. One thing remains consistent – business personal property tax filings are coming due, and counties are beginning to issue 2021 valuation notices.

County Valuation Notices

Now is the time.We will see reassessments in Iowa, Missouri and Colorado in 2021, and Johnson County, KS has just released the 2021 commercial/industrial values. It will be interesting to see how the various counties react to the effects of Covid in the real estate arena.

Johnson County has reduced properties with 20% decreases in value for hoteliers located on the southwest side of the greater Kansas City area, but is this reflective of the market?

Polk County, IA (Des Moines area) will be issuing valuation notices at the end of March. And we are hearing there may be significant decreases for hotels and restaurants. Again, how will this compare to each individual situation?

Retail, hotels, leisure activities and indoor centers have all been severely impacted by the virus, and some economists are indicating it could be several years before these sectors get back to pre-pandemic levels of activity.

Now is the time.

Now is the time to be proactive concerning your real estate valuations. We anticipate a tremendous amount of appeal activity in jurisdictions across the country. No geographical area is immune from this downturn, and it’s extremely important taxpayers know they are only paying their fair share on the true market value of the property.

Railcar valuations.

The railcar valuation side of the business will also be active as owners of railcars faced increased idle time due to less demand in oil, natural gas, sand, coal and other goods. In several instances, railcars have been placed in storage with very little mileage after March 31, 2020.

How soon before we see a sense of pre-pandemic activity in the rail industry? Estimates range from a few months to another year. All of this must be taken into consideration when determining the current market value of specific types of rail cars.

Speaking of railcars…

Noelle Giacomino

Noelle Giacomino

I am so pleased to announce Noelle Giacomino, Senior Analyst in our Indurante group, has been promoted to Director at Indurante. Now in her 13th year with the company, Noelle has created strong relationships with our clients as well as governing officials at the county and state levels.

Her knowledge of the railcar industry and particularly the intricacies involved in the annual railcar declarations makes her a valuable asset to any private railcar owner. We are fortunate to have her share her wealth of knowledge with our clients.

Congratulations Noelle – we look forward to your continued growth within the company!

Property Tax Questions?

As we ramp up for what could be our busiest season since 2009-10, please know we are available to answer any questions you may have in the property tax world. We are here to help.

As always, you may reach me at the following – or

Thank so much and we look forward to representing your interests.

The Swartz Report: Investing in People and Public Radio

Welcome 2021! And let’s just say, we’re hitting the ground running. We’ve implemented a couple of strategies for the start of the year and we’re already seeing positive results.

Investing in Public Radio

Public RadioIn December, the company invested in our first “marketing” strategy by investing in local public radio. To be honest, I am completely amazed at the response we’ve received over the past 45 days. Countless emails, text messages and phone calls from individuals that heard our 10 second “sponsorship”. With no set times (slots are randomly selected by a computer algorithm) the spot could be heard any time from 5am-9pm each day of the week. This was so successful, we’ve decided to reach out to Nevada Public Radio with the same messaging, as we are trying to create a Swartz + Associates, Inc. presence in the Las Vegas area to compliment the Indurante railcar work.

We thought this would be important as Nevada has one of the earliest appeal deadlines (January 15th) and believe the commercial real estate market has been affected significantly due to the pandemic.

The response has been beyond expectations with over 30 new properties under review for this year. Depending on the results of the impending hearings, we will definitely increase the marketing budget as it relates to radio. A special thank you to Ron Yurman, Director of Business Development in Kansas City at KCUR 89.3. If you’re interested in learning how they can be of benefit to your company, you may reach him at

Investing in People – Dan Slattery

Dan SlatteryThe second investment made at the start of the year involves the engagement of a technology officer to support both entities.

Meet Dan Slattery. Dan has been involved with IT management for most of his professional career, including 10+ years in a Senior Manager or Director role with Caesar’s Entertainment Corporation. In 2018, he founded Engaged Innovation as a technology consulting firm. We connected through Engaged Innovation, employed the company to review the Indurante business and haven’t looked back.

Learn more about Dan Slattery here.

We have been working with Dan over the past 18 months in the creation of Railmarx, our proprietary software used exclusively for Indurante clients in our property tax service for owners of private railcars. Dan and his team have worked very closely with the Indurante associates as well as several members of Swartz + Associates. Over this time, he has learned a tremendous amount about the companies and will bring C-Level thinking (strategic long term, as well as immediate improvements to the day-to-day operations) which will benefit not only our companies, but more importantly, our clients. I am excited to have him be considered a part of our group and look forward to the opportunities we will be able to present to our clients in the future.

Stay tuned… we’ve been discussing a couple of ideas which could have a significant positive impact to clients and future clients!

Looking Ahead

2021 should be our busiest year in the last 10 years and I am confident we are making the correct investments in technology and employees to insure we continue to meet the needs of our clients.

As always, I appreciate your feedback. You may contact me via email,; or reply to this blog on my respective websites – or

Happy New Year to everyone – May 2021 bring good health, safety and joy to all!

The Swartz Report: College Road Trips and Happy Holidays

Road Trip and Happy HolidaysThis past week, my daughter and I embarked on a road trip not experienced since her college days where the two of us spent time getting her back to campus at Lafayette College in Easton, PA. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you may remember our many unplanned stops; the world’s largest golf tee and wind chime come to mind, as well as several stops at various college campuses along the way. Her senior year trip included a stop off I-70 in a rest area to view the total eclipse (spectacular, if you remember.) Ah, those were the days! Unfortunately, college graduation came and the real world settled into place.

While the Covid pandemic has been stressful for all, an economic burden to most, health crisis to millions and a noticeable change in our social behavior, it did provide an opportunity for another Father-Daughter road trip. This time, we flew to the DC area, picked up her car (which had been in her underground parking lot since last spring) and drove back to Kansas City, as she will continue to work remotely until June. The drive did not disappoint as we spent two days through the mountains of western Maryland, West Virginia and Kentucky; the plowed fields of Indiana and Illinois and finally, listening to our beloved Chiefs as we trekked across I-70 in Missouri. (Not the most scenic for sure, so the Chiefs offered an excellent distraction 😊)

Road Trip and Happy Holidays Road Trip and Happy Holidays

The Scenic Highway 68 through West Virginia put us within 2,000 feet of the Pennsylvania border and the views were terrific, even in December. We can only imagine what the scenery would be in the fall with the changing colors. Stops in Morgantown to see the University of West Virginia and in Lexington to visit the University of Kentucky were only modified by the aspect of not leaving the car, so we drove around the respective campuses. This was relatively easy since there were no students and effectively no traffic!

Road Trip and Happy HolidaysThis was also an opportunity to connect with my daughter as a non-student.
No excitement or fear of the upcoming school year, just conversations about life; the boring (finances, car repairs, the future…) and not so boring (food, music and friends).  The two days passed quickly and I look forward to the next opportunity (but not if it is caused by another Pandemic!)

Thank You

As we wrap up another year, I again thank you for your friendship, loyalty and trust in me as well as my employees. I mentioned on a phone call to one of my clients that when all is said and done, we are service providers. We do not have a tangible product to touch, smell, see, hear or taste, but you do see our passion, concern and dedication to our clients. Hopefully that’s a differentiator for us. My goal is to insure we maintain this enthusiasm as we work together in 2021.

As always, I appreciate your feedback. You may contact me via email,; or reply to this blog on my respective websites – or

Happy Holidays to everyone!

May 2021 bring good health, safety and joy to all.


Swartz and Associates - Happy Holidays

The Swartz Report: In Spite of the Highs and Lows, We’re Thankful!

Happy ThanksgivingHappy Thanksgiving everyone!

This 2020 year has been filled with highs and lows but one thing we can always count on – the 4th Thursday of November will be a time to be with family as we reflect on what we are thankful for and blessings from the past year.

Although this year will be virtual for many (I don’t remember the last time I have not been with my parents and my brother’s family) this will not keep us from enjoying our time together. I do know one thing that is certain… clean up will be a lot easier than in previous years. 😊

Zoom fatigue is real, but I’m confident we will be able to host a “meeting” with the extended family, with football in the background and multiple conversations occurring simultaneously. In many respects, it will be just like being together only we have the comfort of begin able to end each evening by sleeping on our own beds!

If you’re a frequent reader of my blogs, you know I spend a little time talking about my family.

Bull Creek Distillery LogoWell, our youngest turned 21 last month and it was nice to be able to celebrate with him. While I’m sure he would rather have been celebrating with friends a little closer to his age, we did manage to enjoy the day in fine fashion, sampling bourbon distilled in Springhill, KS.

This was quite a pleasant surprise and if you live in the area, I would suggest heading to Bull Creek Distillery to sample their spirits.

Thank you to all for continuing to support both Swartz + Associates and Indurante & Associates.

We are truly thankful for the opportunity to represent your interests. 2021 will represent my 35th year in the property tax industry and I believe we are well positioned to represent our clients for the next 35!

I am fortunate and thankful to be surrounded by family, friends, employees and clients who care about us and each other. I believe it’s the little things that make the difference, and I look forward to taking care of the little things for you as we move forward.

Giving Back

RMCH LogoRecently, I was watching Good Morning America and Michael Strahan was interviewing John Legend and Christy Teigen. They have joined with McDonalds Corporation to support Ronald McDonald House Charities, creating the #HereForRMHC Challenge. This Challenge begins on 11/25 and will run through the end of the year. To participate, simply post a photo or video with #HereForRMHC from your Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or TikTok account. McDonalds will give $100 in your name as part of its $100 million commitment to the Charity over the next five years.

As many of you know, and as I have expressed in previous blogs and postings, this Charity is very important to me; previously serving as a Board Chair for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City and currently a member of the Advisory Board. Add to the fact my family has been spending quality time during the Pandemic watching The Voice, featuring John Legend as one of the coaches – this is clearly a “no brainer” to get behind.

So – please do the following:

  • Build a house by forming a diamond with your hands
  • Show the chimney by pointing your pinky finger up
  • Put your heart into it by pushing your index fingers down, forming a heart shape.
  • Take a picture or video and post to one of your social mediums

It’s that easy and you will have made a difference in a family’s life. I know the houses in Kansas City cannot support all the families currently in need because of the Covid related restrictions. Luckily there are hotels in Kansas City that have offered rooms to support these families in need. The Charity will pay for the hotel room to insure the families do not have to spend any of their money for accommodations. Please consider this small act of kindness during this holiday season as there is no greater gift. To learn more about RMHC, please visit For full terms of the challenge, please visit

As always, I appreciate your feedback.

You may contact me via email,; or reply to this blog on my respective websites – or

The Swartz Report: Vegas, here we come!

Las VegasNext week, I will be taking my first business trip out of town since the beginning of the pandemic. While Zoom and Microsoft Meetings have been incredibly useful, and being able to see others is an effective alternative to the usual conference call, there are simply things not easily replicated when we meet face to face. So, next week, I will be traveling back to Las Vegas to meet with my employees of Indurante (as well as Swartz + Associates, Inc. since David Sukenik has been in the office just over a year).

Year End Planning

We are set to have our year end planning meeting and it is important I see everyone and really get an idea of how they are doing. While the work has been seamless and our touches with clients have earned positive responses, not being with them on a monthly basis has had an impact on me. I want to be with them to experience what is going on. Is the Las Vegas office handling the pandemic the same way we are handling things in Kansas City? I will soon find out and looking forward to sharing time with them in settings lasting more than one hour.

However, things will be different – rather than staying at my favorite hotel on the Strip, we will be meeting in a VRBO I have secured for our time there. The planning meeting will take place at the rental unit with breakfast, lunch and dinner mixed in at the location. Our planning meeting will take on a second role as a “team building” meeting which may also include table tennis (or for the casual player, ping pong 😊); pool and outdoor grilling. Honestly, I am very excited about this trip and look forward to the responses I receive from everyone.

Indurante Logo

The New Indurante Website is Live!

Speaking of Las Vegas, our initial website for Indurante is now up and running! While it will remain a work in process as we continue to add features, we are heading in the right direction and the website will tie nicely to our software programming and database development. Please visit our Indurante website – to learn more about our railcar expertise and our local employees.

Big things are on the horizon for Indurante and having our Swartz + Associates presence in Las Vegas will provide an avenue for those with locally assessed commercial/industrial properties to now have representation for property tax appeals. Taxpayers in Nevada, and particularly Clark County, will have options for our local office to review and analyze business personal property and real estate assessments. This is very rewarding for me and I believe we can have an immediate impact assisting owners of commercial/industrial properties.

Thank you for your continued interest in our companies – As always, please reach out to me with any questions or comments.    OR

The Swartz Report: Timing the Market, Market Conditions and What’s Next?

Last Friday, the employees of Swartz + Associates met to discuss the balance of the year and looking ahead to the 2021 property tax season. With articles being written about the future of commercial real estate; whether it relates to the hospitality industry, the retail sector, re-configuration of shopping centers or changing the use of office buildings, one thing is certain – change is coming!


TimingThe timing of the change is much harder to predict, but it is fair to assume the dynamics of commercial real estate over the next 3-5 years will be quite different than what we have traditionally experienced. The question is, how will the county jurisdictions react?

As I have stated in previous blogs and as you may already be aware, property taxes levied against a property primarily are used for local school district funding. Between 60%-75% of the total property tax liability is used for public, local schooling. With the changes due to the coronavirus and the increase in virtual learning, demands for newer technology and equipment are straining the current budgets. There will be significant pressure on the county assessor’s offices to maintain current values or risk a reduction in property tax dollars collected in 2021 and beyond. This represents a major challenge for everyone; taxpayers, county assessment officials, investors, school districts, community colleges, ambulatory services, libraries… you get the idea.

How will the respective assessor’s offices react?

Most states define “Market Value” as “Value in Exchange” rather than “Value in Use”. Current market conditions and sales are the driving factors in this determination rather than historical data, such as leases in place and/or sales dating back 2-3 years. Based upon the current environment, we are monitoring the marketplace to see if leases are being renegotiated, rents are being deferred and/or if concessions are being offered to reduce vacancies. All of these issues will affect the valuation of a property, particularly if a county is obligated to value a property as it sits on its valuation date (typically January 1st).

In the Midwest: Iowa, Colorado and Missouri are all subject to re-valuation for the 2021 tax year, while, Kansas, Minnesota and Nebraska are subject to an annual assessment review. Many other states have caps in place as to how much the value can increase in a given year until there is a change in ownership. As you can see, it can be quite confusing. During our planning meeting we discussed these situations and how to best represent our clients in the jurisdictions they have property.

Next Steps

What's Next?We will be working on expanding our presence in the Las Vegas market, as we believe changes in market value first appear in the Southwest (AZ, NV and CA) and the Southeast (FL and GA). With our Indurante office creating a presence in Las Vegas, this is a natural opportunity to grow the Swartz practice with existing clients and expanding our service to those with properties in Clark County.

The Indurante business will remain busy for 2021 as well. The pandemic has had an effect on many industries, and the railroads are certainly not immune. Railcars have had significant idle time and/or storage time due to decreased volume in the shipping of goods, products and materials. We have witnessed a steady decrease in rail activity throughout the year, but hopefully we will start to see an uptick. We are constantly reviewing the market to determine how these conditions are affecting the valuation of railcars and avenues we can review to insure “fair market value” is assessed to these assets.

As always, we appreciate the opportunity to represent your interests and thank you for thinking of us. If you should have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me –

The Swartz Report: Indurante & Associates Update and the New Normal

Indurante & Associates Update and the New NormalIn preparing for this month’s update, I reviewed my August 2019 blog for a little inspiration. I found many of the things I presented following my accident to be true today in the midst of a pandemic. The focus being holding your employees accountable and having them taking on more responsibility.  This may be true even more so than a year ago.

Although our offices are open, employees have the option of working remotely and several are taking advantage of this opportunity. We’ve seen increased efficiency and fewer distractions, but this comes at the expense of lack of social interaction within the offices and reliance to be a self-starter. While some can handle working alone, many enjoy coming to the office, working in an office environment and may even appreciate a little nudging or prodding along the way. Additionally, having an extra set of eyes to review documents and appeals can be very helpful.

I am certainly enjoying the aspects of working remotely, but this could be a direct correlation to this coinciding with spring and summer. I wonder if my thoughts will change as the days get cooler and shorter? Will we be able to effectively implement marketing strategies and long-term goals in this type of environment or does the daily interaction help support the big picture? These are things that keep me awake at night and I would be interested if anyone would like to share their thoughts and what they are seeing in their respective workplaces.

Speaking of work…

In the next month or so, expect to see the Indurante website up and running. This is an important step for us as Indurante has previously had no web presence and it will be extremely beneficial for our clients to understand the relationship between Indurante & Associates and Swartz + Associates.

The breadth of our expertise in the property tax field will be on full display as we showcase our talents reviewing locally assessed properties as well as state assessed properties. We are uniquely positioned to assist various taxpayers, depending on their needs.

We now offer the following services for our clients:

  • Real property valuation analysis and consulting
  • Business personal property analysis and consulting
  • Business personal property annual compliance filings to the local jurisdictions
  • Business personal property annual compliance filings to the state level
  • Payment of annual property taxes through our dedicated property tax expense fund
  • Fee appraisal and valuation of machinery and equipment

As we head into the fall, please keep these services in mind. If we can be of assistance, I would welcome the opportunity to have a conversation. As always, you may contact me at

Stay healthy, stay safe and for everyone’s sake, please follow your city and state recommendations to reduce the risk of the Coronavirus!

The Swartz Report: Will property taxes be higher or lower in 2021?

By Donald Swartz, President and Principal of Swartz + Associates, Inc.

It was just over a year ago I wrote to everyone about an incident that changed my perspective about many things. As you may recall, on July 9th, while heading to my Las Vegas office on a bright Tuesday morning, an individual ran through a red light, hitting the Uber I was riding. Eight broken ribs, a separated shoulder, a broken clavicle and four fractured vertebrae later, I am feeling pretty good and amazed how much has changed these past 12 months.

Now it’s my turn to help be supportive and be the cheerleader, as so many were for me.

Being supportiveLast Tuesday, my father had quintuple bypass surgery. Yes, no typo, five bypasses! The surgery went as well as anyone could have expected for a man turning 89 in November. What to do, what to do… In this Coronavirus environment, all one can do is offer emotional support for the family. There is no visitation at the hospital. No hugs, no holding hands, no “just being there”. Only phone calls, Zoom setups during the week and words of encouragement. The true providers are the nursing staff, who serve both the medical needs of the patient and the emotional needs during this pandemic. Truly unbelievable.

And yet, my father remains optimistic that he will be heading home soon. And why not? He has always been optimistic and pragmatic about everything – family, friends, and his working professional career. Never, did he display negativity. While I try to emulate that in my life, it can be very challenging, especially in today’s world. Talk about role models, he’s top of the list.

Now on to the working front.

TaxesLast month, I mentioned one our employees, Mark Phillips, discovered an error by a state for the valuation of railcars. His uncovering generated millions of dollars of tax savings for all owners of railcars who had situs in that state. We submitted an article to our clients in the industry. Here is a link to that PDF. Please take a look if this is of interest.

Slowly but surely, our cases appealed in 2019 and earlier that have been delayed, postponed and/or pushed back are getting their “day in court”. The results have been very positive as various county assessor’s are working with us to resolve outstanding appeals from 2018 and 2019. This is a very good idea, as the system will again be backlogged due to the current appeals and the projection of 2021 appeals looming on the horizon.

There is no question in my mind, property tax valuations (both real and business personal property) are going to decrease in 2021 – the big question is whether the counties will recognize the downward swing caused by COVID-19.

As always, if you have any questions or comments please reach out to me directly –

Stay healthy, stay safe and for everyone’s sake, please wear a mask in public settings!

The Swartz Report: Celebrating our 6th Anniversary

Swartz + Associates 6th AnniversaryWe recently celebrated Father’s Day weekend and Juneteenth! I feel like Jimmy Kimmel and Steven Colbert as I write yet another blog from my home. The more things change, the more things remain the same……

Celebrating our 6th Anniversary

We celebrated the 6th anniversary of Swartz + Associates, Inc. on June 1st without much (in fact, without any) fanfare. Just another day of dealing with frustrating circumstances. Hearings held virtually or via telephone only; little interaction with respective appraisers’ offices; almost no interaction with county Boards and worrying about our clients and their abilities to remain upbeat and run functioning businesses.

There are some positive things occurring as well. In the past week, we have been working with Jackson County on our outstanding commercial real estate appeals. While we still have many properties to discuss, we were able to discuss and resolve 10 properties. At this rate, it will take quite a while to complete the 2019 hearings, but we know the county is working with us to resolve outstanding appeals and remain cautiously optimistic the number of cases to be reviewed by the county will only increase.

Another positive is the comfort level our staff has felt in working remotely. While the office is technically open, I have encouraged everyone to work in an environment that best suits their needs. If they want to come into the office, it is available to them (minus the break room).  This has worked out well as a few of us come in a few hours each week. This past Thursday, we had 4 in the office at the same time and it was nice to have some work oriented interactions.

Conversely, working remotely has not slowed us down at all and I believe has helped in our efficiency. As a group, we are meeting off site next week to discuss the past 3 months and making plans for the rest of the year. What will work look like? What is the importance of being in the office? Are we taking care of our clients? How will proper social distancing affect our abilities to have an “off site” half day meeting? These are issues l look forward to discussing with our group and receiving their input.

On the Las Vegas front, Indurante & Associates continues to charge along.

We recently completed the majority of 2020 property tax filings and now are reviewing assessment notices to ensure accuracy and correct methodology. We will be filing obsolescence appeals in those states which allow this argument and we recently discovered a calculation error by a State which assesses property tax on railcars. Alerting the State of this error caused the State to reissue assessment notices for all taxpayers (regardless of whether they were our clients), creating a combined tax savings of well over $500,000.

We did this at no extra charge to our clients, further cementing our reputation as the leading provider of railcar property tax services in the country. I will be talking more about this in a future post and announcement. I am very proud of our group, and would like to recognize Mark Phillips, senior analyst, for discovering the error and working with the state to make the corrections, ultimately benefiting all taxpayers.

As always, if you have any questions or comments please reach out to me directly –