Concord Township’s New Safety Levy…updated

By Brian Massie, A Watchman on the Wall

Lake County’s Concord Township has a proposed 6.5 mills replacement property tax levy on the November 7, 2023, ballot to pay for safety forces (police and fire).

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Here is what you will see on the ballot on November 7th.

Concord Township
A majority affirmative vote is necessary for passage.

A replacement of 4 mills of an existing levy and an increase of 2.5 mills, to constitute a tax for the benefit of Concord Township for the purpose of providing and maintaining fire apparatus, appliances, buildings, or sites therefor, or sources of water supply and materials therefor, or the establishment and maintenance of lines of fire alarm telegraph, or the payment of permanent, part-time, or volunteer firefighting personnel or companies to operate the same, including the payment of any employer contributions required for such personnel under Section 742.34 of the Revised Code, or the purchase of ambulance equipment, or the provision of ambulance, paramedic, or other emergency medical services operated by a fire department or firefighting company; and for the purpose of the payment of the costs incurred by the Township as a result of contracts made with other political subdivisions in order to obtain police protection, or the provision of ambulance or emergency medical services operated by a police department that the
county auditor estimates will collect $5,368,000 annually, at a rate not
exceeding 6.5 mills for each $1 of taxable value, which amounts to $228 for each
$100,000 of the county auditor’s appraised value, for 5 years, commencing in 2023, first due in calendar year 2024.

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LFC Comments: That is one very long sentence….Let’s try to makes some sense out of it:

There is currently a 4.0 mill safety levy paying for “Safety Forces”. However, what the average taxpayer does not realize is that the 4.0 mills has been reduced, due to the impact of HB 920, to 3.058700 mills. HB 920 is a state law that was enacted to reduce the impact of increasing home values for any reason (inflation, increased demand, lack of supply). So as your home value increases the number of mills are decreased to ensure that you do not pay anymore property tax on the levy than you did when it was first enacted.

Here is the Schedule A for 2021 / 2022 from the Lake County Auditor’s office:

From the above schedule you can see that the current 4.0 mills (3.05 effective mills) brings in approximately $2,397,676. The new 6.5 mills levy is estimated to generate $5,368,000 annually. That is an increase of $2,970,324 (123.9%) annually. [($5,368,000 – $2,397,676)/ $2,397,676] It more than doubles the revenue generated.

How much more will it cost the Concord homeowners?

Home ValueAnnual Tax
for 3.05 mills
[3.05 x $35 x Home value per $100K]
Annual Tax
for 6.5 mills
[6.5 x $35 x Home value per $100k]
Additional
Annual Tax
[Results for 6.5 – 3.05]
Annual Income Increase
Needed for
25% HAT [Add’l tax / 25%]
$100,000$106.75$227.50$120.75$483.00
$200,000$213.50$455.00$241.50$966.00
$300,000$320.25$682.50$362.25$1,449.00
$400,000$427.00$910.00$483.00$1,932,00
$500,000$533.75$1,137.50$603.75$2,415.00
$600,000$640.50$1,365.00$724.50$2,898.00
This chart gives the financial reality of this new Safety Levy property tax for homeowners. The HAT is the Housing Affordability Threshold. If a homeowner pays 30% of their annual income on property taxes, utilities, and home mortgage, then their home is deemed unaffordable for them. They may not have to move, but they will have less money for their “needs and wants”.

We have used 25% HAT for illustrative purposes. You may want to calculate your own HAT % to determine your needed annual income to avoid moving closer to the 30% threshold. Calculation = [(Annual Property Taxes + Annual Utility Costs + Annual Mortgage) / Annual Income]

The Concord Trustees decided to make the new levy a 5 year levy rather than a “continuous” levy. This will require them to be more accountable to the taxpayers since the levy has a fixed term. A “continuous” levy means the tax will be collected forever. The tax will start in 2023 and collected on the 2024 tax bill. We thank Trustee Morgan McIntosh for championing the fixed term levy.

A presentation was made at the community center by the Concord Trustees, Morgan McIntosh, Carl Dorndorfer, Amy Lucci, and Concord Administrator Andy Rose. In addition, Jim Teknipp, Fiscal Officer, and Sheriff Frank Leonbruno answered questions from the audience.

Here is a video of the presentation and a link to their slides shown during the presentation:

https://concordtwp.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/2023-Levy-Presentation-Concord-Twp-v3.0.pdf

There was a great deal of time spent on the need for additional law enforcement. Concord contracts with the Lake County Sheriff’s Department for their patrol services. Although, the Sheriff’s Department is required by State law to provide policing services to townships, they are not required to provide patrol services. It is deemed cheaper to pay for Sheriff’s Deputies rather than starting a Concord Police Department, similar to Madison Township, who spend in excess of $3 million per year for their police department.

The Township’s costs are increasing for policing because the “Cops Grant” matching funds provided by Lake County Commissioners ends in 2024. The cost of one deputy is $126,000 per year with a 3% annual increase.

There was some discussion about the increased cost for fire department equipment, but no discussion about the cost of fire stations until I brought it up during the question and answer period. Lets take a look at the “before and after” pictures of the two fire stations in Concord.

Main fire station on Route 608 across from existing fire station:

Existing Fire Station:

New Fire Station across the street – Cost $9.9 million…opening soon

Here are pictures of the existing Prouty Road Fire Station

Here are pictures of the new proposed Prouty Road Fire Station – Estimated Cost excluding architect’s and owner’s representative fee is $7 million. It is one-half the size of station #1.

There are no plans for a Bond levy to pay for station #2. The Trustees will use JEDD revenue, which is approximately $1 million per year, and the new safety levy revenue to pay for station #2. If the levy does not pass, then the construction in station #2 will be delayed since the JEDD revenue will pay for increased police patrols.

We would like to thank Mr. Andy Rose, Concord’s Administrator, for his help and transparency with this issue.

We will report the facts, and let the Concord voters determine the fate of this safety levy.

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Update from Andy Rose, Administrator, on October 6, 2023:

“There are no plans to use revenue from the safety services levy to fund station 2 construction.”

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