By Brian Massie, A Watchman on the Wall
This saga of Concord’s Safety Levy has had a lot of “twists and turns”, but we have always held to our mission statement of getting the truth out to the citizens of the community.
We originally wrote the following article about Concord Township new 6.5 mil, 5 year, replacement levy that will supersede the 4.0 mill (3.05 effective rate) currently being assessed.
Concord’s Administrator and Trustees had a problem when we originally stated that the funds from the proposed 6.5 mill replacement levy will be used to build the proposed new fire station on Prouty Road. We updated the original article with the Administrator’s comment.
Mr. Rose, Administrator, and Mr. Teknipp, Fiscal Office, agreed to meet with me to review the projections for the use of the Safety Levy funds and the financing of the Prouty Road Fire Station.
The following is the Township’s 5 year projection that uses strictly the funds from the Safety Levy.
However, this schedule does not present, in my opinion, the complete picture of how much the Township is currently spending on the police contracts. Under the column “2023 Annual Appropriations” you will see the number $260,056, but from the Fiscal Officer we learned that the actual total being spent is $1,040,000. The $779,944 [$1,040,000 – $260,056] uses the JEDD revenue and some ARPA federal funding to currently pay for the Sheriff’s Department patrolling services.
For clarification for those that may be unaware, although the Sheriff’s Department is tasked with providing police protection to the townships in the County, they are not obligated to provide patrol services since the County government will not provide the funding in perpetuity.
We reviewed the calculation of the existing 4.0 mill [Effective 3.05 mills] levy versus the proposed 6.5 mill Safety levy. The following schedule shows our results.
To ensure we had the correct starting point, we verified the maximum $ amount the Auditor stated that could be collected if everyone paid their tax bill. The Auditor calculated the same amount, rounded to the nearest $1,000, of $5,368,000.
The current 4.0 mill levy brings in approximately $2,423,666. The new 6.5 mill levy will bring in approximately $5,046,122, which is an increase of $2,622,456 (108.2%) with 94.3% coming from residential and agricultural property.
If the 6.5 mill Safety Levy passes, the $2.6 million will be spent on $1.3 million in Fire Department salaries [$2.1 million to $3.4 million] and approximately $600,000 will replace the JEDD money previously used to pay for the Sheriff’s patrolling of the Township. There will be a carryover of funds that will be used to pay for the Sheriff’s cost when the County’s Cops grant expires in 2025.
[Please read the Township’s response to this article shown at the end of the article.]
The JEDD revenue can then be used to finance the bonds required to build the $8 million fire station on Prouty Road. Unlike many County political subdivisions, Concord Township does not have the financial reserves to pay cash for the new fire station.
If the 6.5 mill Safety Levy on the November 7th ballot does not pass then the building of the Prouty Road Fire Station will be put on hold until the Trustees can determine how they can generate the $600,000 per year to fund the $8 million construction.
We have a solution that perhaps the Trustees did not consider. The sexennial revaluation of property values will take place in 2024 with collection of the taxes in 2025. The Lake County Auditor has told us that there will be at least a 30% increase in the property values in 2024. There will be an increase in property taxes without a vote of the people. We decided to calculate what that means in additional revenue to the Township.
There will be approximately $300,000 added to the General Fund and $344,000 added to the Road and Bridges. Technically, the funds for Roads and Bridges cannot be used for any other purpose. However, without a vote of the taxpayers, the Trustees will realize a $300,000 windfall without a vote of the taxpayers.
Our role is not to suggest how you should vote on the 6.5 mill Safety Levy on the November ballot, but merely to make you aware of the facts so that our readers will be better informed voters.
We would like to publicly thank Mr. Andy Rose, Township Administrator, for his help and transparency in getting this information to the citizens of Concord Township.
Township’s Rebuttal to our findings:
To ensure that I was accurate in my reporting of the facts from what I had learned from meeting with Mr. Teknipp and Mr. Rose, I sent my conclusions to Mr. Rose before I published the article, thereby allowing them a chance at a rebuttal of my statements.
Mr. Rose met with Concord Trustee, Morgan McIntosh, and they both penned the following “Massie Response dated 10/29/2023. I appreciate them taking the time to respond to us and our readers.
Mr. Rose submitted the following schedule to us. It compares Concord Safety Levy costs to other Townships in the County.
Whew, that was perhaps information overload. We tried to give everyone the complete story so that they can decide whether to approve the 6.5 mil levy or not.
However, we do have one last question. If Lobbyists for Citizens did not bring up the fact that the sexennial revaluation in 2024 would bring in $644K to Concord’s coffers without a vote of the people, would anyone have brought it to the attention of the voters before the November 7th election?
Look for our upcoming article on the sexennial revaluation in 2024 with taxes to be paid in 2025. There is at least a 30% increase in property valuation in our future. Voters, especially those in the Willoughby-Eastlake, Kirtland and Perry school districts, better hold on tight because you are not going to like the ride!