Ballot Language….thought you should know the facts

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I sent a request for clarification on the ballot language for the two levies (ADAMHS Board and Crime Lab) that are on the May 8th ballot.  I stated that the levies are advertised prior to the election as $X per $100,000 of home valuation, and the ballot language confuses voters when they use the language “x cents per $100” of valuation.  Here is the response that I got from the Prosecutor’s office.

Dear Mr. Massie:
I am responding to your February 20, 2018 email to Commissioner John Hamercheck with a subject of “I am calling out a deception.”  There has been no deception.  The language on the ballot is required by Ohio law.  Revised Code 5705.25 states that the form of the ballots cast at an election…shall be as follows:

“An additional tax for the benefit of (name of subdivision or public library) ……… for the purpose of (purpose stated in the resolution) ……… at a rate not exceeding ….. mills for each one dollar of valuation, which amounts to (rate expressed in dollars and cents) ……… for each one hundred dollars of valuation, for the  …… (life of indebtedness or number of years the levy is to run).”

The Commissioners have no choice, the Board of Elections has no choice, the ADAMHS Board nor the Crime Lab have no choice in the language on the ballot.  The General Assembly has dictated that it shall state that the rate is to be expressed in dollars and cents for each $100.00 of valuation.

Now if you do the actual math found on the ballot (.04 cents x 100 x 1,000) you get $40.00 a year in taxes per $100,000.00.  Remember that we only pay 35% of valuation ($40.00 x 35% = $14.00) thus the taxpayer will only pay $14.00 per $100,000 of valuation.  So if you carry out the language in the ballot it looks like it you should be paying $40.00 a year but you are not.

This has been the language on every levy in Ohio for longer that I can remember and I have been around for 43 years.  I hope this explains the reason for the selection of the language.

You are correct, the .4 mill levy will cost each home owner $14 per $100,000.00 of home valuation but we cannot express it that way on the ballot as the Statute requires us to use specific language.  Attached is an exact copy of Ohio Revised Code Section 5705.25.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any other questions.

Charles E. Coulson
Lake County Prosecuting Attorney

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