Lake County’s Out of Control Property Taxes

By Brian Massie, A Watchman on the Wall

We have been warning about the out of control property taxes for at least eight years. We have publicly stated at Commissioners’ meeting, and at many local gatherings that if we stay on the path of ever-increasing property taxes, we will price seniors and others living on fixed incomes out of their homes that they have worked all their lives to achieve.

Please follow this link and read what is happening in Geauga County. They have just experienced the impact of the sexennial property revaluation since they are one of several counties that had their revaluation occur in 2023 with taxes collected in 2024.

We are working on calculating the impact of the sexennial revaluation, required by the Ohio Revised Code, for Lake County property in 2024. In a discussion with the Lake County Auditor, he confirmed that there will be at least an overall 30% increase in residential and agricultural property (known as Class l). The increase in property taxes will be collected in 2025.

This will bring additional revenue to all school districts and political sub-divisions that collect inside millage, which is collected WITHOUT a vote of the taxpayers! Citizens in the Willoughby-Eastlake, Kirtland, and Perry School Districts will be shocked at the increases if nothing is done by the State Representatives to lessen the burden. Their school districts are at the 20 mill floor, therefore their general outside levies will the treated like inside millage. This means they will get massive increases in property taxes without being able to vote on the new taxation.

I was told that our system of funding with property taxes only works with a 1% – 2% annual increases in property values, and the spikes in valuation cannot be tolerated by the taxpayers.

We must bring to our readers’ attention that our system of checks and balances is broken in Lake County. The Lake County Budget Commission is supposed to be the watchdog for the taxpayers to ensure that excessive taxation does not take place.

However, due to the Lake County Prosecutor Charles Coulson’s interpretation of an Ohio Supreme Court ruling any outside millage levy voted on by the taxpayers cannot be reduced by the Budget Commission. Consequently, the Budget Commission is merely a “rubber stamp” for the various political subdivisions, thereby allowing them to accumulate obscene amounts of money, far more than they need to operate.

Geauga County does not operate as Lake County does, and their Budget Commission can protect the taxpayers. Their is NO ONE in Lake County government that is protecting the financial interests of the Lake County taxpayer by reducing existing property taxes.

We are losing the American Dream one tax levy at a time. This is not political it’s Biblical!

The Crime Lab, under the direction of Coulson, has accumulated over $7 million in surplus cash, and accumulates over $1.6 million annually over their needs to operate the lab. Coulson justifies this because he will not have to come back to the taxpayer for additional taxes for at least 15 years. He made the last crime lab levy “continuous” so that the property taxes are collected each year without having to justify the need to the taxpayers. In our opinion, it appears he honestly believes that it is acceptable for a political subdivision to hoard cash.

The political subdivisions are “sucking the lifeblood out of the community” with their excessive taxation. It is our contention that the money belongs in the hands of the taxpayers so that they can meet their financial needs and stimulate private growth by spending money in the community.

As of September 30, 2023, your Lake County government had $448,655,404 invested, and earned approximately $12 million this year in investment income. This includes $60 million owned by the Developmental Disabled entity known as Deepwood. When we add in the cash reserves of Lake Metroparks, Laketran, ADAMHS Board, Lakeland Community College, school districts, and the other non-profits feeding at the government trough, we realize that local government is growing out of control. Their growth pattern is unsustainable for the local taxpayers to continue funding through property taxes, or sales taxes for that matter.

Stay tuned for our follow up article where we will reveal the additional property taxes by municipality and school district without a vote of the taxpayers that will occur due to the sexennial revaluation. Seeing these increases may influence the voters’ decision about tax levies that are on the November 7th ballot.

It is regretful that officials do not warn the taxpayers about the cliff that they are approaching BEFORE they vote on November 7th.


Categories: Lake County - General, Uncategorized

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