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Ohio county auditor wants local entities to help taxpayers

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(The Center Square) – An Ohio county auditor blames state government for a nearly 40% increase in property values and hopes local entities won’t pass on the jump in the form of property taxes.

School districts and local taxing entities do not have to collect more taxes as property values increase, according to Butler County Auditor Nancy Nix, and she wants them to evaluate expenses.

Nix wants those local governments that receive inflationary increases in unvoted millage to pass on the increased amounts the new property values would generate to give the General Assembly time to change property tax law.

“We still have to discuss the details with the local governments but at this point there aren’t many options left,” Nix said. “I am very concerned that increased tax bills are going to be too much to bear for some people.”

In 1976, lawmakers passed a law that allows tax rates to be adjusted downward so levies would still collect the voted amount. The same law says tax reduction factors cannot cause a school district’s effect current expense millage rate to fall below 20 mills.

In Butler County, eight of the 10 school districts are already at the 20-mill floor, according to Nix.

Rep. Sue Carruthers, R-Hamilton, agrees with Nix and wants local government leaders to start to find answers.

“Through the state operating budget, we created a property tax study committee to review these issues,” Carruthers said. “In preparation for the committee’s start, I have encouraged local government leaders to begin the process of finding real solutions to this issue. The challenges we are experiencing are a result of 30 years of legislative tax code drawbacks. Make no mistake, there is no easy answer here. I look forward to working with experts on local taxation, like our county auditors, to pass real reform to help struggling families and seniors.

Nix submitted values three times to the Ohio Department of Tax Equalization before getting approval for a 37% increase in property taxes.

The state rejected a 33% increase and suggested a 42% hike before settling on 37%.

“We kept trying to hold the line on value increases but the state didn’t move much through the process,” Nix said. “It’s now time to turn our attention to convincing local governments to help taxpayers out.”

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