The Center for Community Solutions has generated a detailed, comprehensive report on property taxes funding social services.
Here is an excerpt from the article that we found informative:
“While all 50 states have property taxes, Ohio is unique in the degree to which we rely on local support of health and social service programs. For example, more than half of all funds generated at the local level in the United States for services for people with developmental disabilities are raised in Ohio. (Emphasis added by LFC)
Property owners were charged nearly $2.5 billion in county property taxes to support health and social services in 2018 in Ohio. In that same year, 654 separate active health and social service levies were part of Ohio property owner’s tax bills. This does not include the substantial number of municipal levies for human service purposes, nor does it include any sales taxes that support human services.”
Here is their complete report:
Property tax and Social Services Funding
Here is a schedule that provides the details on the current Lake County tax levies collected (Outside Millage) for the Mental Health (2 levies for 1.6 mils) , Children’s Services (2 levies for 1.1 mills) , Developmental Disabilities (Mental Retardation on the schedule) (2 levies for 4.9 mills) , and the Senior Citizens (2 levies for .8 mills) . The effective tax rates are the adjusted tax rates based on the impact of H.B. 920.
Laake County Property Tax Details
LFC transferred the Center for Community Solutions’ detail into an Excel format so that we could sort the details by Social Service provided:
Here are several schedules that provide the HHS $ sorted from highest to the lowest amounts collected. (You will have to rotate the schedules to read them.)
Sorted by total $: HHS SORTED BY TOTAL $
Lake County ranked 10th overall in the State with a total in 2018 of $47,479,264 (1.92% of State total of $2,467,177,775)
Sorted by Children’s Services: HHS SORTED BY CHILDREN’S SERVICES
Lake County ranked 13th overall in the State with a total in 2018 of $5,915,217 (1.5% of State total of $406,217,034 and 12.5% of the total Lake County HHS property taxes collected.)
Sorted by Developmental Disabilities: HHS SORTED BY DD
Lake County ranked 7th overall in the Sate with a total in 2018 of $27,503,663 (2.6% of State total of $1,064,453,641 and 57.9% of the total Lake County HHS property taxes collected.)
(LFC Comments: Although, LFC is a big supporter of Deepwood, we are concerned about their $50 million in accumulated cash. We did speak to them earlier in the year, and was told that they will need the funds because of the prospects of reduced State funding.
We attended the Budget Commission meeting a few months ago and was told that Deepwood must now limit the cash being held. There is a on-going effort to comply with the new rules. LFC believes that there will be a “Budget Stabilization Fund” created that will permit Deepwood to comply with the new rules. [Read: From one pocket to another]
Our concern about the accumulation of cash by the political sub-divisions and the many non-profits in Lake County that operate as governmental agencies, is that it takes the cash out of the hands of the taxpayers, which is the lifeblood of the community.
Why aren’t the County Commissioners concerned about “sucking the lifeblood” out of the community? The $50 million in surplus cash is invested by the County, and investment income earned on that money is not credited to Deepwood, but goes into the general fund, which is controlled by the Commissioners. The Treasurer saved the Commissioners’ “bacon” when $4 million earned in investment income was used to balance the budget. There is no incentive for the Commissioners to return surplus funds to the taxpayers. Real fiscal conservative Commissioners would find ways to return the taxpayers’ money. Unfortunately, fiscal conservatives should be placed on the endangered species list, because they are quickly becoming extinct.)
Sorted by General HHS or Multi-Purpose: HHS SORTED BY GENERAL HHS
Only four counties have a general slush fund that is then allocated by the politicians. (Gee, wonder what could go wrong there?) Lake County does not have a separate levy for general HHS services.
Sorted by Mental Health: HHS SORTED BY MENTAL HEALTH
Lake County ranks 7th overall in the State with a total in 2018 of $9,361,827 (3.0% of the State total of $311,206,728, and 19.7% of the total Lake County HHS property taxes collected.)
Sorted by Public Health: HHS SORTED BY PUBLIC HEALTH
Lake County does not have a separate levy for this category. A total of $107,828,450 is collected around the State for public health, representing 4.4% of the total for all HHS property tax collected.
Sorted by Senior Services: HHS SORTED BY SENIOR SERVICES
Lake County ranks 10th out of the 88 Ohio counties in this category with $4,698,557 collected. (that represents 9.9% of the total $47,479,264 collected by the County from the Senior Levy, and 2.4% of the total $195,334,561 collected by the State for this category.)
(LFC Comments: LFC has written several articles in the past about a group known as RSVP (Retired Seniors Volunteer Program). They have received significant funding over the years through the Senior levy. It is our opinion that there is a duplication of efforts between RSVP and the Lake County Council of Aging. Here is a couple of articles that will illustrate what we think about the Willoughby-Eastlake schools and the Senior Levy sponsoring such a program.
At the September 12th Commissioners’ meeting, they passed two resolutions authorizing the expenditure of $64,800 and $38,490 for a total of $103,290 to consultants that will review how the Senior Levy funds should be spent. Here are the resolutions:
This is known in the political world as “gaining cover”. Not wanting to make obvious decisions that will alienate the voters, and jeopardize their re-election; politicians will gladly spend the taxpayers’ money to justify their decisions.
In this case, there can be three reasons for this large expenditure.
(1) Justify a need to go the taxpayers asking for an increase in the existing Senior Levy
(2) Justify the need to eliminate RSVP, and consolidate senior centers.
(3) Both (1) and (2) are valid.