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Ohio property tax reduction plan moves ahead

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(The Center Square) – A plan to lower Ohio property taxes continues to progress despite county auditors calling it a knee-jerk reaction in real estate prices.

Despite the County Auditors Association of Ohio’s objections, legislation allowing the state Department of Taxation to use a three-year average of property taxes continues to be on a fast track.

After taking only three weeks to pass the House, House Bill 187 had its first hearing in the Senate. A second hearing has not been announced.

“This commonsense bill will protect vulnerable Ohioans from drastic increases in property taxes,” Rep. Thomas Hall, R-Madison Township, told the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “It is my responsibility to protect my constituents and I will continue paving the way on property tax reform.”

The bill quickly became a reality after recent projections of steep property tax increases in 13 counties.

“The Ohio Homeowners Relief Act will provide some relief to Ohioans who have concerns about paying for their basic needs as a result of historic property valuation increases,” said Bird. “I look forward to additional hearings in the Senate as we work to provide much-needed relief to Ohioans.”

County auditors, though, question the need to change a process that has been in place for 100 years.

“[Franklin County] Auditor [Michael] Stinziano has eloquently laid out the implications and the challenges in artificially adjusting a century-long process of valuation in a knee-jerk reaction to the current real estate market,” the auditors’ association testified. “Abandoning the well-established standards of mass appraisal and replacing them with the provisions of HB187 would create significant discrepancies in equity and diminish the trust that our residents have in the valuation process.”

The group also blamed the rise in residential property taxes on the General Assembly’s elimination of properties – hospitals, agriculture land and parcel exemptions – subject to property taxes while not reducing requirements or need for municipalities as a reason for increases.

“We cannot complain about the increase in property tax burden on Ohio residents without acknowledging that we as leaders are in part responsible,” the association said. “For decades nearly every General Assembly has methodically reduced the properties subject to local taxation without reducing the need of local governments. This shift has resulted in more and more levies passing and the burden being put squarely on the shoulders of residential homeowners.”

A recent report from the Tax Foundation ranked Ohio fifth in the country in terms of property taxes, but that didn’t help the state in its overall tax climate ranking from the Tax Foundation.

Ohio ranked well below average at 36th in the index, which authors say is designed to show how well states structure tax systems and give a path for improvement.

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