Written by Brian Massie, Concord Township resident
May 23, 2021
We have been doing some research into the complex world of property taxes as it relates to funding for government schools in Lake County, Ohio. We will try to explain the impact of H.B. 920, the 20 mill guarantee, and why school districts may be deceiving the citizens by using “emergency” levies.
Please remember our basic premise on government school funding: If we continue with the ever-increasing property taxes, we will price seniors and those living on fixed incomes out of their homes that they have worked all their lives to achieve.
We have also brought to light the concept of the Housing Affordability Threshold. If the homeowner adds the costs of their mortgage, utilities and property taxes, and their sum equal 30% or more of the homeowner’s annual income, then the house is deemed unaffordable for the homeowner.
Inside versus Outside Mills
The Ohio constitution permits all local governments to levy 10 mills (inside millage) without the vote of the people. (1 mill = $35.00 per $100,000 of home valuation per year)
A school district typically receives ~4.5 of the 10 inside mills. Fairport at 5.24 mills and Wickliffe at 5.20 mills have the highest inside millage in the County.
All millage in excess of 10 mills must be approved by the voters. This is referred to as the outside millage because is it “outside” of the 10 mills limited by the Ohio constitution.
What is H.B. 920?
In 1976, the Ohio legislature enacted H.B. 920 in order to eliminate the schools collecting additional taxes due to inflationary increases in home values. As home values increase, H.B. 920 reduces the number of mills to be collected ensuring the school receives the same amount of revenue on the voted mills. This is called the “Effective Tax Rate”.
Every three years the value of taxable property in the school district is determined by the county auditor. If inflation has caused the value of the property to increase, the Auditor continues to reduce the “Effective Tax Rate”. The actual calculations for H.B. 920 are done by the Tax Equalization Board at the State’s Auditor’s office, and then the reduction factors are given to the local Auditor’s office.
H.B. 920 does not apply to the inside millage. So as home values increase due to inflation, the citizens will still see an increase in their property taxes, without their consent, because of the inside millage.
H.B. 920 also does not apply to emergency levies. The Willoughby-Eastlake school district has passed six “emergency” levies since 2007. This ensures the district will reap the benefit of increasing home valuations due to inflation. Here is the detail of all of the Willoughby-Eastlake tax levies that clearly illustrates our point. Please note that the “Effective Millage” and the “Gross Millage” for the emergency levies are identical. [Source: Lake County Auditor]
Note to the Willoughby-Eastlake Administration and School Board – your tactics have been exposed for all residents in your school districts to see. “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” Luke 8:17
What is the 20 Mill Guarantee?
There is a unique provision in Ohio law just for school districts. The Ohio constitution allows guarantees for other taxing authorities, but none have been authorized by statute.
Each school district is guaranteed an effective rate equal to 2% of home values for operating expenses. This equals 20 mills.
To calculate the 20 mill floor, we need to add the inside millage and the current expense millage (General). Excluded from the calculation are EMERGENCY LEVIES, permanent improvement levies, and bond levies.
Let’s use the Willoughby-Eastlake School District (shown above) as an example:
Inside Millage of 4.80 mills + a 1976 Outside Millage general levy with and effective millage rate of 17.511975 = a total of 22.311975
When the Lake County Auditor revalues the property values in 2021, it is possible that the total effective millage of 22.311976 will be reduced to the 20 mill floor. From that point on, any inflationary increases in property values will result in higher property taxes for the homeowners without their consent because H.B. 920 will not permit the effective tax rate to go below 20 mills.
Here are the Auditor’s property tax details for all of the Lake County schools:
Kirtland is at 21.8074 for the 20 mill floor. So, in addition to paying the new levy, the Kirtland residents will soon be paying increased property taxes on their increasing home valuations because of the 20 mill floor. By the way, has this ever been mentioned by the local school board?
Perry School District is at 21.51732 for the 20 mill floor.
Note to Riverside School District taxpayers: Be aware that the school board is still contemplating building a brand new high school. Cost estimate is north of $100 million and paid for by a property tax levy of approximately 5.0 mills.
Riverside is at 26.1 in the 20 mill floor calculation.
Note to Wickliffe School District taxpayers: The recently passed 10.97 mill levy may be the coup de grâce for Wickliffe seniors. Coupled with runaway inflation, senior are going to have difficulty making ends meet. Do not be surprised if someone floats the idea that seniors can stay in their home until they die, but the title to the home will revert to the government upon their death. The end game for the globalists is the elimination of private property. Evil works in incremental steps.
Here is a schedule of all Lake County Assessed Valuations by District Number:
Grand Total All Valuations – $6,417,988,291
Residential and Agricultural – $4,835,695,850 (75.35% of total)
Commercial / Industrial – $1,202,568,670 (18.74%)
Public Utility / Personal Property – $379,723,770 (5.92%)
Here are the Lake County School District Assessed Valuations
We hope that this helps sheds some light on the issue of property taxes for Lake County residents.