We attended a Heritage Club meeting on Thursday, February 13th to hear Mr. Chris Galloway, Lake County Auditor, give his vision for the Auditor’s office.
Also in attendance was Ms. Becky Lynch, the Lake County Recorder, who is on the March 17th ballot hoping to retain the Recorder position. After a short speech, we did hear that Ms. Lynch saved the taxpayers at least $103,000 by getting a refund from a software supplier because of their poor performance. Now that is what we want to hear from our politicians – fiscal responsibility! Well done Becky!
We also heard from Mr. John Plecnik, who is running on the Republican ballot for a position on the State Central Committee. We have been very interested in Mr. Plecnik’s career since we see him as a patriot, very smart, and a truth teller.
Mr. Galloway, who we know from his days as a Concord Township Trustee, was appointed Auditor by the Lake County Republican Central Committee after the former Auditor, Mr. Zupancic, had to retire because of an illness.
He gave an overview of the duties of the Auditor’s office:
- They maintain the real property values for all the parcels of land in Lake County.
- Prepare the payroll for all of the Lake County government employees.
- Pay all of the bills for the County.
- Make the distributions of taxes collected to the various political sub-divisions.
- Responsible for the I.T. Division
- Responsible for the Weights and Measures in the County. They inspect the scales in Lake County stores to ensure that when you are buying a pound of baloney, it really is a pound of baloney. Interestingly, ~70% of the measurements of the scales in Lake County are tipped in favor of the consumer. So the pound of baloney you are buying may actually be more than a pound.
- Perform the tri-annual revaluations of the Lake County property values. The next one is due in 2021. In 2024, the general reappraisal mandated by the State of Ohio will be done.
Mr. Galloway expressed support for H.B. 439 that will increase the Homestead Exemption for seniors and disabled veterans. We posted about that back in December.
Mr. Galloway mentioned that he has determined that the Auditor’s office has excess funds, and those funds will be distributed back to the Lake County municipalities. There was no mention of the total amount to be distributed. LFC asked why the funds could not go back to the rightful owners – the taxpayers? He said that he looked into that, but the Ohio Revised Code would not allow it. So a Christmas present is coming early to the cities, townships, and villages. We appreciate Mr. Galloway’s fiscal responsibility, but the money belongs to the taxpayers.
LFC asked Mr. Galloway about the status of the software problems that seem to be lingering on far too long. We were told that the calculation of the taxpayers’ property taxes is accurate, but a problem still exists with the distribution of the funds to the political sub-divisions. LFC had asked the State of Ohio to look into this problem, but they stated that they have no jurisdiction in this matter. The firm of Skoda Minotti has been retained to try to solve the problems. To be clear, this is not a problem created by Mr. Galloway. He inherited the mess, and is trying to do a “post mortem”…
LFC previously issued a complaint about the “Rates of Taxation” schedule prepared by the Auditor’s Office and issued by the Treasurer’s office. We have two issues with this schedule:
1. The original is in blue ink and is very difficult to read – let alone understand for the average citizen. [see the schedule at the bottom of this article]
2. The schedule does not give the taxpayers a complete understanding of the inside millage versus outside millage for each taxing district. The average taxpayer looking at the schedule would assume that the inside millage is 1.10, when in reality it is ~8.9 mills. The political sub-divisions, such as schools, police and fire, etc. have their own inside millage that is not divulged to the taxpayers on the schedule.
Why is it important to know the difference between the inside versus outside millage, you may ask? The inside millage is not voted on by the taxpayers. Any increase in the property values will result in an automatic property tax increase to the taxpayers without their knowledge or vote.
That allows us to segue into the very important role of the Auditor’s office – property valuation. In 2021, the Auditor’s in-house staff will perform a revaluation of all 109,000 parcels.
LFC asked Mr. Galloway what was the property tax impact of the Better Flip home being sold for $179,900 but valued at $104,600? Better Flip Conveyance Statement
Mr. Galloway responded by saying the the Auditor’s office does not “chase the sale” of a parcel, and one sale will not automatically increase the homeowners’ property taxes. There is a detailed study of the surrounding homes before any change is made to the property values which will automatically impact the inside millage tax revenue. Mr. Galloway offered LFC the opportunity to meet with him and Mr. Scott Yamamoto, head of the Board of Revisions. We will take him up on that offer, so that we can share the knowledge learned with our readers.
One very important tidbit shared by Mr. Galloway was the fact that the Lake County school districts retain lawyers, paid by the taxpayers, that routinely check the home sales in Lake County and will submit requests to the Board of Revisions to increase the property valuations so that the school generates more revenue – allowing them to pay more lawyers fees we assume. At least leeches will not suck all the blood out of its victims. They will permit their hosts to live in order to feed on them at a later time.
Did you know that Lake County government has over 2,000 employees making it one of the largest employers in the County.