Willoughby’s School Financing & Tax Levy

The Internet gives us a chance to observe how are school taxes are being used.  Here is a link to Willoughby’s Treasurer’s website:


You may want to take a look at their projections of revenue versus expenses.  It looks like in 2018 they are anticipating expenses exceeding revenue, and I would assume will need to tap into their cash reserves.  I do not know if the reduction in revenue from the recent Public Utility devaluation has been factored into their numbers.

Willoughby residents will experience a real estate tax increase without even a vote, because the emergency levy and the bond levy that will be impacted by the Public Utility devaluation will have to be made up by the residents.  Those two types of levies demand that they collect a fixed sum of money, and have the right to increase the millage to ensure that it is collected – regardless of what the voters say.

I do not like any deception played on taxpayers by any political sub-division.  They play on emotion without telling the truth.  Here is a link to Willoughby’s school tax levy on the ballot in November.


Here is the language on their website that is the big deception:

Will my taxes increase?
The substitute levy will NOT increase taxes.

Emergency levies can be changed to a substitute levy.  This type of levy does not increase the originally voted upon tax. (Note: that is true except if there is no devaluation in valuation of the Public Utility)  If approved, the district will substitute the term of the levy from “every 5 years” to “a continuing period of time.” (Note: they do not mind taking the vote out of the hands of the taxpayers)

From my research, I have discovered that emergency levies can only be used by schools.  The amount of the taxes to be collected for the levy must always be collected.  That is, if they wanted to collect “X” from the citizens, and businesses then they will always collect that amount, and nothing less.  As I understand it, the reduction in the Public Utility valuation will have to be offset by the residents, and the residents will not be able to vote on it.

In addition, they are change the levy language to “substitute” instead of “emergency”,  Using the argument that it is costly to put a levy on the ballot, they now get to collect the taxes on a “continuous” basis. (read: forever), without the need to go back to the taxpayers. (I have some real problems with continuous levies)

Here are some additional explanations that I found on-line that you might find helpful:

Emergency Levy
• Submitted to the voters as a dollar amount. For example, “The emergency levy will
raise $1,000,000 per year.”
• Can only be voted in for a period of time from one to five years, and expires after the
time has elapsed unless renewed by a vote of the public
• Can be renewed individually or in combination with other emergency levies

Substitute Emergency Levy
• All or a portion of one or more emergency levies can be substituted
• Can be up to a period of ten years or continuing
• Includes a built in growth factor
• In the first year the levy collects the same amount that would have been collected by
the substituted levies
• In subsequent years the levy collects the same dollar amount collected the year before
plus additional funds for increased property values as a result of new construction
• Can be renewed anytime during the term of the existing emergency levies
• Will qualify for the application of rollbacks
• Beneficial if district feels like there is significant new construction in the future

My opinion: I am calling out the deception being played on the residents of Willoughby by their school board.  The School Board knows that the real estate tax laws are so complex that virtually no one in the State understands them. (This statement was confirmed to me by the Lake County Auditor and Commissioner Dan Troy in a commissioners’ public meeting held on October 17, 2017)


Categories: Tax Levies, Willoughby

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