LFC Comments by: Average citizen
We have been on a mission to “pull back the curtain” on property taxes in Lake County. We believe that it is important that citizens have a better understanding of the governmental subdivisions that have their hands in our pockets. There is a concern on our part that the cost of Lake County’s public sector is growing to the point that the private sector will no longer be able to pay for it. The seniors living on fixed incomes are going be to priced out of their homes they have worked all their lives to achieve.
We do not buy into the argument that current seniors must continue to pay property taxes, because when they were in schools the seniors at that time paid for their education. We are comparing “applies and oranges” on the services provided, compensation paid, and the ratio of teachers and administrators to the number of students served.
We are doing a series of articles on the Educational Service Center of the Western Reserve [ESCWR]. They are authorized by the Ohio Revised Code, and they used to be called County Boards of Education. The Lake County and Geauga County Boards combined forces in January of 2020. They contract with the local public school boards to provide special education services.
To get a better understanding of any entity, we first look at their financial statements to determine their source of funding, and the financial viability of the entity.
We wanted to see the latest report of the ESCWR fund balances. We had trouble locating the reports on the ESCWR website. Their CFO / Treasurer, Mr. Greg Slemons, provided us with the roadmap. Needless to say, it was buried a little deep. Thank you Mr. Slemons.
In response to your email of yesterday afternoon, please see the below:
1.To review agendas and reports go to ESCWR.ORG Website
- Click “About Us”
- On the left side click “Governing Board”
- On the Right side click on the word “LINK” under Board Docs
- Click “Enter Public Site”
- Top Right Click “Meetings”
- On the left side click the + by the year
- Select the desired Board Meeting
- Middle of Page Click “View the Agenda”
- On the left side click the desired agenda item
- in the middle of the page is the documents that support that specific resolution
2. For Audited Financials go the the OhioAuditor.gov
- top right click “Search Audits”
3. In 1990 the Lake County School Financing District was formed pursuant to Ohio Revised code 5705.215. The ESC of the Western Reserve is the taxing authority and fiscal agenda of the Financing District. the ESC collects taxes and distributes the taxes collected to the members of the Lake County School Financing District. The member districts are Perry, Madison, Riverside and Painesville.
LFC questions yet to be answered:
- Why did Mentor, Wickliffe, Fairport Harbor, Kirtland, and Willoughby-Eastlake School Districts not join the ESCWR?
- Does the ESCWR receive any portions of property taxes collected for being the bookkeeper of the taxes collected?
- Why was there a need to combine Lake and Geauga ESC’s?
Hopefully, we have not lost anyone with the details, but we need to go even deeper into the “rabbit hole”. Here is the current “Rates of Taxation” for 2020 (payable in 2021) as provided by the very efficient Lake County Auditor’s office. We give them “shout-outs” whenever we can because they are very helpful to the general public, and very good at what they do.
To determine the estimated property tax to be collected by the Lake County Financing District, we have to show you the Schedule A created by the Auditor’s office. Note that $5,506,403 is estimated to be collected in 2021. There are 11 Taxing Districts that pay into the Financing District. You can find the taxing district’s number and corresponding district’s name on the schedule shown above.
If you check your property tax bill, you will see a separate entry for collection of the Lake County Financing District tax, and you will be able to see your contribution to the cause.
So what does all this mean? Let’s take a look at the ESCWR’s cash on hand, and the related funds.
Here are the details for the individual funds that have the total $3,351,714.71.
Our next article will deal with the balance sheets of the entities before and after the merger.
Here is the link to the ORC 5705.215 that provides the details for the Lake County School Financing District. If you check your property tax bill, you will see a separate entry for collection of the tax, and you will be able to see your contribution to the cause.
Excerpts from the ORC section:
“The governing board of an educational service center that is the taxing authority of a county school financing district, upon receipt of identical resolutions adopted within a sixty-day period by a majority of the members of the board of education of each school district that is within the territory of the county school financing district, may submit a tax levy to the electors of the territory in the same manner as a school board may submit a levy under division (C) of section 5705.21 of the Revised Code, except that:
(1) The levy may be for a period not to exceed ten years, or, if the levy is solely for the purpose or purposes described in division (A)(2)(a), (c), or (f) of this section, for a continuing period of time.
(2) The purpose of the levy shall be one or more of the following:
(a) For current expenses for the provision of special education and related services within the territory of the district;
(b) For permanent improvements within the territory of the district for special education and related services;
(c) For current expenses for specified educational programs within the territory of the district;
(d) For permanent improvements within the territory of the district for specified educational programs;
(e) For permanent improvements within the territory of the district;
(f) For current expenses for school safety and security and mental health services, including training and employment of or contracting for the services of safety personnel, mental health personnel, social workers, and counselors.”