Butler County taxes are changing. Here’s how much, and why it’s not the same for everyone.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds gives advice to drivers when paying at the gas

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Butler County taxes as a whole are going up a median 2.8 percent, but taxes in Liberty Twp. are expected to rise 8.8 percent and West Chester Twp. residents will see the least impact at 1.3 percent of the larger jurisdictions.

Auditor Roger Reynolds’ office recently completed triennial reassessment of Butler Count properties, and while property taxes are based on home values, that’s not the whole picture where tax increases are concerned. Throughout the recession, the auditor’s average property values dipped from around $150,000 in 2008 to the $125,000 range and have bounced back to around $150,000 with the triennial update.

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“Values are back at where they were in 2008, how is it that tax bills have continued to increase during that time frame?” Reynolds told the Journal-News. “It’s not because the valuation is excessive, it’s because we continue to have an increase in voted levies. Since 2008, we’ve had 45 new levies.”

Reynolds said when they set out to do the required triennial update, the state said values should rise 13 percent in the county, but Reynolds said he fought to keep the increases to a more conservative eight percent level.

Every six years, the auditor’s office is required to knock door to door in the county to reassess every property. Some have wondered how they received a notice their taxes will be shifting when no one came to seem them from Reynolds’ office.

“The triennial update is not based on an individual assessment of the property, it’s based on an overall neighborhood adjustment,” Reynolds told the Journal-News. “So neighborhoods as a whole get adjusted based on the market trends for that specific neighborhood.”

MORE: Voters approve new Liberty Twp. fire levy

As a result of the triennial update, median property values in the county went up 7.1 percent, with the biggest increase in Trenton at 13.3 percent — that community was hard hit by the recession but is on the mend — and three communities, Lemon and St. Clair townships and New Miami, didn’t budge at all. So taxes will rise but at varying levels.

Reynolds pointed to two new fire levies in Hanover and Liberty townships, where the taxes are expected to rise by a median 6.9 and 8.8 percent respectively, as prime reasons why taxes are up. Voters in Liberty Twp. approved a 3.5-mill additional levy by 57 to 43 percent in Liberty in November. The owners of a $100,000 home will pay about $122 more for fire protection and medic services.

Liberty Twp. Trustee Board President Tom Farrell said voters there understood the need for the new money in the township that has quadrupled over the past two decades to about 40,000 residents.

“The bottom line is we put it on the ballot and 60 percent of the residents agreed that the fire levy was needed for the long term sustainability of the township, and they voted it in,” Farrell said. “They can say whatever they want, the public agreed to it.”

Even more troublesome to Reynolds, he said, is the money the state has taken back through the years. Back in the 1970s, the state legislature wanted to sell a sales tax to Ohioans, so they promised tax levy rollbacks that eventually totalled 12.5 percent.

That rollback was erased in 2014. Homestead exemptions for the elderly have been restricted, and the state has steadily cut away at local government funding through the years, meaning local governments have had to rely more heavily on their own taxpayers.

“It’s a combination of the state reducing our local government funding, removing property owner credits including limitations on the senior Homestead reduction,” Reynolds said. “The state continues to cut our funding, putting pressure on local governments to do more with less. Because of the continued trend of reductions at the state level and continued increases at the local levels, the property owners are getting squeezed.”

County Treasurer Nancy Nix said the new tax bills will be sent out by the end of the month. She said they get an average of 380 calls a day from taxpayers right after the bills hit mailboxes when they normally field about 75 daily calls.

Reynolds’ office gets calls too, and this year he said his people will direct callers to contact their local government officials and state legislators if they want to quarrel with tax hikes. He said he will also offer office space to local officials if they want to help them take calls about the bills.

“I’m not happy with what has transpired at the state and the eliminations of the rollbacks and the reduction to the local government funding,” Reynolds said. “That’s where people need to start when they are concerned about the continued rise in property taxes and the burden on property owners. Spend your time where it can have an impact, which is your state legislators and your local government officials.”