LFC Comments by Brian Massie, disillusioned Lake County taxpayer
Just when you think that things could not get worse, they seem to get worse. I have learned never to count on most politicians to do what is in the best interest of the taxpayers.
As a reminder, here is former Commissioner Ron Young’s parting comments about what he has learned about government and politicians.
Truer words were never spoken. Today was a real “eye-opener” for me when I attended the Lake County Budget Commission..
The day started with a lie told to me by Treasurer Mike Zuren and Auditor Chris Galloway. I was told by both of them that the Budget Commission was to start at 10:00 am, but it started at 9:00 am. They are both deceivers and should be ashamed of themselves. On a phone call with Zuren, he told me that he did not know where the meeting was to be held so I decided to go early and ask for the meeting location. While at the Prosecutor’s office looking for a correction to the Prosecutor’s salary that was previously given to us, I heard the Budget Commission secretary, who was looking for the Prosecutor’s representative to the Budget Commission, state that the meeting was at 9:00 am. I quickly hurried to the meeting.
I had come to expect honesty and transparency from both of them, but I promise the Lake County taxpayers that I will not be so gullible in the future.
I became an independent voter with the 2022 primary because I wanted to be regarded as an independent journalist, and not a political hack for the Republican Party. This may upset my Republican friends, but I have yet to have a Democrat lie to me!!!
I had voiced concerns to the Lake County Commissioners about the excessive property taxes collected by the Crime Lab levy. Here is a previous article that detailed my concerns.
Commissioner John Hamercheck is the only Commissioner that responded to my multiple requests for statements on the 2018 Crime Lab levy, and I thank him on behalf of Lake County citizens for his transparency.
Here is some of the information about the levy. It should be noted that Prosecutor Coulson did not go to the Budget Commission with a projected tax budget. He went directly to the Commissioners, and they provided a resolution authorizing the Prosecutor’s levy be placed on the ballot.
Upon reviewing the documentation provided, we started asking more questions, and read Ohio Revised Section 5705 (a lot of pages) dealing with property taxes. There are three main issues that concerned me:
- Does the Ohio Revised Code give authorization to create a Crime Lab with a separate property tax levy?
[Answer: Since I could find no mention of that in the ORC, it makes me wonder if the Crime Lab levy is an illegal levy foisted on unsuspecting taxpayers. Per the resolution, the Prosecutor is basing the levy on R.C. 5705.19 (J). There was no one checking the validity of that claim in 2018, and the Commissioners just bowed to the Prosecutor.]
- What are the checks and balances on any political subdivision from collecting too much property taxes from the taxpayers?
[Answer: In Lake County, because of the Prosecutor’s position on the role of the Budget Commission, there are NO checks and balances on any political subdivision from collecting excessive property taxes from the Lake County citizens. Once the deceived voters pass a levy, especially a continuous levy, they are stuck with it forever.]
- What is the role of the Budget Commission?
[Answer: Prosecutor Coulson believes it is merely a rubber-stamp board that reads the inside and outside millage currently charged by the various political sub-divisions and signs the required forms authorizing the levies. Auditor Galloway stated that he does not agree with the Prosecutor, but defers to the Prosecutor’s legal opinion, because Galloway does not want any personal legal liability. Treasurer Zuren verbally told me that he was in agreement with me, but in the video below he demonstrated his weakness and cowered to the power of the Prosecutor’s office.]
Here is an edited video of the Budget Commission meeting held today.
The idea that your elected politicians care about seniors or any other taxpayer being priced out of their homes because of ever-increasing property taxes is just an illusion. If you need a refresher to what their top priorities are, please look at the Commissioner Young’s video.
Prosecutor Coulson also had the chutzpah to ask the Commissioners for $600,000 this year to give his Assistant Prosecutors massive bonuses and raises to ward off an attack from Cuyahoga County stealing the Lake County employees.
I gave the Commissioners two funding sources, but the Prosecutor, to the best of my knowledge, has not accepted either solution.
- I discovered that $5.3 million in overpaid property taxes was being held by the Treasurer’s office since the1980’s. There has been $393,313.16 returned to the taxpayers, and $566,040.17 that can be returned to the general fund.
- The Crime Lab is generating $1.6 million in cash reserve each year. That money can be used to pay the salaries and benefits since that was being done prior to the 2018 Crime Lab levy. Here is the letter Coulson sent to the Commissioners stating that $410,000 of the Crime Lab funds were used to pay for the salary and benefits of the Prosecutor’s employees.
What have I learned from the entire situation?
[Answer: I will NEVER vote for any new or renewal property tax levy again – be it for my Township, school district, library, etc. There are no checks and balances in the Lake County government that will protect the voters from excessive collection of property taxes.
I would suggest Lake County taxpayers be very skeptical with property taxes, because NO ONE is looking out for your best interests.
The City councilperson or Township Trustee should be providing safety for the citizens, and that means more than police, fire and road. In my opinion, it should also be financial safety in the form of responsible taxation.
We should adopt a “verify then trust” attitude when it comes to all Lake County issues.]