Lake County Property Taxes Dialogue on Impact to Seniors

LFC Comments by Brian Massie, Executive Director

We have doing some research on the Triennial Revaluation of the Lake County property values. The Lake County Auditor’s website does a good job of explaining why the revaluations are needed and authorized. Here is a link to the website:

We met with Auditor Chris Galloway and his staff to discuss the revaluations and was told that the State of Ohio stated that their calculations showed a 16% increase in property values for 2018, 2019, and 2020. The Lake County Auditor’s office agreed with that overall increase. The following are a series of emails between Auditor Galloway and myself.

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Auditor Galloway wrote…

“Spoke with a couple appraisal companies that are working with other counties on the revals [property revaluations] for 2022. Told me counties that have to do them next year are looking at 28-34% increases. Yikes. Glad we got our in before the 2021 explosion.”

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Brian Massie wrote…

“Wow, this method of taxation is unstainable… Perhaps a sales tax is a better approach.  We are concerned that the public sector is growing at such a rapid rate that eventually the private sector will not be able to pay for everything. Coupled with double digit inflation that we believe will happen in 2022, people are being priced out of their homes.   

A $100+ million for a jail, $136+ million for a new Riverside School, and the political subdivisions, such as Deepwood, extracting more cash than they need from the taxpayers illustrates our point.

We hope we are wrong, but we expect more foreclosures to happen in Lake County because of the inability to pay property taxes.

We will be looking into the Willoughby-Eastlake school system reaching the 20 mil floor, and the impact it will have on the taxpayers in that district. However, we have enough on our plate right now.

We know that it is certainly not the fault of the Auditor’s office, and that you understand the problem.

Thank you for your honesty, integrity and transparency in your dealings with an average citizen.”

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Auditor Galloway wrote…

As you know, reworking the tax structure in Ohio would require Constitutional changes. To be frank, I don’t think that would ever happen. Is there any state that doesn’t assess a property tax? I’m not aware of one. We certainly understand the history of property tax in America and why it developed as the early answer to funding government. The larger question is not how do we undo that system, because it’s unlikely, but rather how do we make it more even and fair?

For seniors, in the immediate, I and other auditors continue to advocate for expansion of the Homestead Exemption – increase the maximum income allowed to qualify, increasing the amount exempted from $25,000, and indexing the exemption to inflation are necessary. As you point out inflation is taking off and will only make matters worse if we do not allow it to grow with inflation. In the last thirty years we’ve seen a real erosion of the HE due to inflation and increase in home values. This chart is a great example of the past six years:

That represents an 18% decline in the savings power of the HE in six years.

For now I do not think it will result in a wave of foreclosures, but if we don’t expand the HE and we end up in a stagflation cycle, all bets are off.

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LFC Comments:
We are continuing to review the actual results of the triennial revaluations by each Lake County neighborhood and municipality. We will report our findings to our readers after we have confirmed our results with the Auditor’s office.

We thank Auditor Galloway’s for helping the residents of Lake County better understand the complex property tax system that we have in the State of Ohio.

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Categories: Community Activism, Lake, Ohio Counties

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