Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez delivered a presentation to the Springfield School Board this month.
Toledo Public Schools board members followed in the footsteps of some neighboring districts this week when they agreed to drop complaints with the Lucas County Board of Revision against home values in the district.
TPS contested the home values of about 50 residential properties, which sold in 2016 for $50,000 or more than what the Lucas County Auditor’s Office says they’re worth. It’s common practice among public school district in Ohio, as properties revalued at a higher worth produce more tax revenue.
But Lucas County residents this year spoke out against the practice, backed by county Auditor Anita Lopez who took aim at districts she contends were asking for too much of their tax base. Sylvania and Springfield schools were the first to dismiss their complaints against residential properties, and Ms. Lopez said she’s waiting to hear from Maumee, Oregon, and Anthony Wayne school officials on whether they’ll follow suit.
Washington Local schools only challenges commercial property values, and Ottawa Hills schools does not challenge any.
Toledo resident Angela Burke on Tuesday thanked TPS board members for dropping their complaints, but she also spoke about how stressful the process was for her and her neighbors.
“During this ordeal we felt like we were being punished for wanting to stay in, or in some cases move to, the city of Toledo,” she said. “We’re the people that this city and school district often want to keep. We’re the people who are committed to staying in this city and its schools, this commitment evident in the purchase of property in this community.”
Ruth Keim bought her South Toledo home in May of 2016. She told the board she was “blindsided” when she received the letter from the Board of Revision notifying her the district was contesting her home’s value and warning of a possible property tax increase.
“If I may make a suggestion to the board, consider developing or enacting a regulation that will give future home buyers in Lucas County notification of any tax revision before closing on a new home,” she said.
TPS Treasurer Ryan Stechschulte said the district has contested property values for years, but officials decided it would be in everyone’s best interest to drop the complaints this year.
Mr. Stechschulte said there has been no discussion about how to handle the issue in future years.
“We feel that every property should be valued properly within the county,” he said.
The auditor is set to update property valuations county-wide in 2018, which should reflect a stronger real estate market and increase taxes across the board.
Ms. Lopez has promised to refund districts more than $2.8 million from her real estate assessment fund, of which TPS stands to receive about $900,000. She also said she will reduce the amount of fees she collects from districts each year to fund services in her real estate department, though she hasn’t yet crunched the numbers.
“We will only collect what we need to operate,” she said.
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