I spoke at the Commissioners’ meeting today and discussed the real estate tax issues during the public comments portion of the meeting.
I mentioned that per the study done by the Center for Community Solutions: Northeast Ohio Regional Impact and Outcomes, it has been generally accepted that the housing affordability threshold is 30% of household income.
Currently, 26.2% of seniors living in their homes,and 52.5% of those that rent their homes are paying more than 30% of their household income. I believe that this proves my point that if we stay on our current path of ever increasing real estate taxes, we will price seniors out of their homes.
We must ensure that all agencies receiving taxpayers’ funds are good stewards of those funds. I told the commissioners that we will continue to ask for the financial information of ANY agency that uses taxpayers’ funds.
A. Crime Lab Levy– In reviewing the financial schedule provided to us, I noticed that as their cash balance continued to decline each year, they continued to hire people. In a 10 year period, their annual payroll and benefit costs increased $1,153,476 (129.54%). That would not have been allowed in the business world.
Although their case load may be increasing, I am concerned that if the .5 mill levy is passed they will immediately hire more people, and start running out of cash again. Their growth is not sustainable.
The prosecutor’s office wanted to put their levy on the ballot in November fearing that they will run out of funds in 2018. I asked why it was being delayed until May 2108, but got no answer. (I can only think of two reasons: (1) They did not want to jeopardize the Senior and Children’s levy on the ballot; or (2) The prosecutor’s office did not convince the Commissioners that they had a good plan for the use of the money. )
[As of now we could not support the levy if it is placed on the ballot, until we get solid justification for the increased funds]
B. Lake Metroparks – I mentioned that I spoke to the Executive Director and that he had invited us to their Board Meeting on November 15th. They will be discussing the 2018 Budget. They have a budget of $26 Million.
Did you know that they spend $1,884,805 on the Erie Shores and Pine Ridge Golf Courses?
The Lake Metroparks and Lakeland Community College are two political sub-divisions that do not have to have the approval of the Lake County Commissioners to place a levy on the ballot. In fact, the Metroparks currently has 9,100 acres, and NO ONE can control how large they can get. Lake County has ~145,280 acres of available land, and each acre that is consumed by the Metroparks means less property taxes and an increased burden on the taxpayers – again squeezing the seniors on fixed incomes out of their homes.
As we gain more information, we will report it to you.
C. ADAMHS Board – I mentioned that I received the financial information from the Executive Director. I would hope that part of her responsibilities is to ensure that entities under their umbrella are good stewards of the taxpayers’ money.
If what she sent to me was used to determine if the entities were performing in the best interest of the community, then I question their ability to discern if they are good stewards of the taxpayers’ money.
I will exercise our taxpayers’ rights to receive copies of the annual form 990 for all 17 agencies under the ADAMHS umbrella as permitted by IRS regulations. I will report my findings to the Commissioners and will post the results on our website.
[Stay tuned on this one….I get a strange feeling about this one…]
D. MCS Consulting Report Authorized by the Commissioners: A report was completed in 2015 regarding how the funds for the senior levies were dispersed to the various agencies and community centers. There were 3 negative comments:
- The levy funding dispersement process is based on history rather than changing needs.
- There are minimal directives on how the levy funds can be spent.
- There is a lack of accountability for usage and outcomes.
Jason Boyd, County Administrator, said that based on the report the funds are dispersed on an “as needed” basis, rather that via the old formula. Funds are only given upon proof of expenditure, rather than just being given to the various agencies.