We were sent a news article dealing with a proposed change in the ballot language regarding local property taxes. Here is the article: News Article on Derek Merrin’s proposed legislation
We asked State Representative Derek Merrin (47th District – Toledo Area) for a copy of his bill. Here is what he sent to us: Ballot Uniformity and Transparency Act
Here are some excerpts from the news article:
“Merrin said his bill’s overall goal is to increase transparency in the process of seeking property tax increases or renewals. Many voters don’t understand what mills are, or how taxable value relates to a property’s actual value,,..
You shouldn’t need to bring a calculator to vote. And currently, you have to bring a calculator and have a knowledge of the Ohio Revised Code to understand how these levies impact voters,” he said.”
Since the proposed legislation was going to simplify the ballot language for taxpayers, LFC was , and still is, in total support of the legislation.
So what is the problem? Did you know that public school administrators have lobbyists that fight proposed legislation that tries to simplify ballot language for any property tax issues? You will find this paragraph in the news article:
“Barbara Shaner, a lobbyist for the professional association that represents public school administrators, said Merrin’s proposed language doesn’t capture the complexities of how property taxes are calculated, like rollbacks, or the differences in how residential, agriculture and commercial properties are valued.”
When reading this our “antenna went up”, and we wondered if the taxpayers were funding their own demise? Could taxpayers’ property taxes collected for the public schools be used to hire lobbyists to thwart our State legislators, who are trying to make school tax levies easier for the voters to understand?
That sent us on another mission to determine how much Lake County schools spend on lobbyists. We asked each Lake County school to provide us with information on how much is spent either directly with lobbyists, or with Associations that use lobbyists.
Here are the responses we have received to date:
Riverside: Total Payments: $13,215.40 Riverside Association payments
Kirtland: Total Payments: $9,680.44 Kirtland Association Payments
Mentor: Total Payments: $15,809.88 Mentor Association Payments
Many thanks to these three schools for their quick response and transparency with the voters.
Madison would not send us the information via email and required us to come to the school and get the information directly from the documents – perhaps the thinking was that we would have dropped our request if obstacles were placed in our way. On the third visit, we discovered that they spent $6,426 with The Ohio Association of School Business Officials. Although their office workers were cordial and helpful, we want the Treasurer to know that we would have “crawled through glass” to get the information.
Here is the email received from Willoughby-Eastlake Schools:
Emails Received from WE Schools
We are are still waiting to hear from them on our follow-up question.
It certainly seems to LFC that taxpayers are funding their own demise.
If you are interested in expressing your concern to your local school here is the contact information for all nine public school districts in Lake County. Please take the time to express yourself to the school officials. What do you have to lose?….Oh, wait we know what you can lose – your house that you have worked all your life to achieve!