We previously wrote about attending the recent Willoughby-Eastlake school board meeting. https://lobbyistsforcitizens.com/2019/09/10/willoughby-eastlake-school-board-textbook-on-how-to-lose-touch-with-taxpayers/
During the meeting, Superintendent Steve Thompson and the Treasurer discussed the need for the 4.99 mill, additional, current expenses, CPT, levy commencing with the 2019 tax year. Here is the Lake County Board of Election’s list of all issues that will be on the November ballot. Please note that we have highlighted the Willoughby-Eastlake 4.99 mill levy. November 2019 Ballot issues
Let’s make sure that everyone knows what they are reading:
- (49 Pcts) means that there are 49 precincts in the Willoughby-Eastlake school district that will be impacted by this levy.
- 4.99 Mills represents the outside millage that will be charged on the market values (appraised value) of the property in the district.
- “Additional” means that this is a new tax that will be paid by the taxpayers.
- Current expenses are the operating expenses needed to keep the doors open and cannot be used for payment of buildings and other capital improvements.
- CPT means “continuous period of time”- as we have said many times before this really means FOREVER.
Superintendent Steve Thompson and the school’s Treasurer gave a presentation explaining how the homeowners can calculate the tax owed, why they need a continuing levy, and what dire consequences will occur if the levy does not pass. Unfortunately, the rules of order maintained by the controlling school board prevents any dialog during the presentation. Although we were in attendance, we could not ask questions or refute what was being said during the meeting. Basically, any input by the taxpayers challenging the school officials’ statements is the last thing the Superintendent and School Board wants.
Therefore, we will use this forum to inform the public and challenge the school officials. We have no other alternative, since we are relatively sure that the local newspaper will not touch this subject.
Calculating the New Tax:
The Treasurer presented a chart illustrating how much the new ‘additional’ tax will cost the taxpayers annually. We have asked the Superintendent for a copy of the chart, and have tried to find it on-line, but we have not been successful.
The Treasurer’s explanation was so convoluted that he surely lost most of the audience.
His explanation: Market value of home $100,000
Assessed value % 35%
Assessed value $35,000
Number of Mills 4.99
Tax Calculation $35,000 x 4.99 / 1,000 = $174.65
Rollback Credit % 12.5%
Net Tax After Rollback Credit $152.81 per year ($174.65 x [100% – 12.5%])
He even used the silly argument that “it only cost $.41 per day”. [$152.81 / 365]
We have two problems with his presentation: (1) They are flat out WRONG and (2) It is far TOO CONFUSING. We knew they were wrong during the meeting, but the recalcitrant school board does not want input from the taxpayers.
(1) Why are they wrong? We confirmed our understanding of the rollback credits with the Lake County Auditor’s office and the State of Ohio Board of Equalization. (Side note – the BOE does the calculations for the H.B. 920 impact on tax levies)
The rollback credits no longer apply to new levies, and an “Additional” levy is a new levy. Therefore, Superintendent Thompson and the Treasurer either are ignorant of the law, incompetent, or guilty of deceiving the public. We will let the voters decide.
(2) Why is it too confusing? Here is the easy calculation that we learned from the ever helpful Auditor’s office and the highly competent Lake County Finance Director:
Multiply the number of mills (4.99) x $35.00 = $174.65 per $100,000 of market (appraised) value per year. If your house is appraised at $200,000 you would multiply the $174.65 x 2 = $349.30.
If a political sub-division tries to pass a renewal levy with an increase, then the renewal portion would be subject to the rollback credit, but the increased tax portion would not be reduced by the rollback credit.
If a political sub-division tries to pass a renewal levy, we would have to multiply the number of mills by the “effective tax rate”. The House Bill 920 was intended to remove the impact of inflation on the value of your home, and therefore the concept of “effective tax rate” became the new reality.
Please remember that the school officials are supposed to be top flight educators. One could rightly ask why these educators cannot do a better job of explaining property taxes to the taxpayers. Again, we will let the voters decide what their motivation might be.
(3) Why the need for a continuing levy? Superintendent Thompson stated that the continuing levy will save the taxpayers money in the long run since the bond market wants to see a constant revenue stream, and the bond market is concerned about all of the W-E emergency levies.
This is a bit confusing to us because we cannot see why the bond market is involved in a levy for “current operating expenses”. The reason that the school officials have pushed so many emergency levies is to avoid the impact of H.B. 920. Emergency levies guarantees them the fixed revenue that they want.
Superintendent Thompson did state unequivocally that public school expenses will ALWAYS increase and will never go down. Think about that statement. With decreasing enrollment. the cost to educate the children will continue to go up. It is our opinion, that is one of the reasons we see the public schools increasing the services they provide, replacing the family’s influence, and trying to become the ‘hub’ of the community.
(4) What happens if this levy does not pass? The standard cutbacks in schools services: busing, school athletics, after school activities, etc, etc,etc. will occur. We were waiting to hear that the administrators will have to take a cut in pay, or they will give up the “pickup” that they enjoy. Of course, those cost cutting measures are never considered.
What is the “pickup”, you may ask? School administrators are required to pay 14%, (some may be at 10%) toward their pension, and the employers pay 14%. We now have the entire 28% paid by the employers for some employees. So the employers “pick up” the employee’s portion of their pension. NOT A BAD DEAL, EH?
We will write another article to show the Willoughby-Eastlake taxpayers how their ‘HOUSING AFFORDABILITY THRESHOLD %’ (HAT %) will be impacted by the 4.99 mill levy.