Butler County officials warn tax bills will be late and larger: How that will affect you

Things to know about Butler County, including history and facts.

Butler County Treasurer Nancy Nix said some taxpayers will have “sticker shock” in a few weeks when they open their tax bills, which have been delayed for several reasons.

Nix told the Journal-News taxpayers usually receive their property tax bills at the beginning of February, but they are being mailed out beginning on Feb. 15 and will be due by March 18. The delay is caused in part by the fight Auditor Roger Reynolds is waging with the state over property reappraisals.

“People can see their bills already online and there are certain parts of the county that they’re just getting sticker shock, or they are going to when they open their bills,” Nix said. “We just want them to be prepared.”

Generally, increased property values do not translate to higher tax bills unless a jurisdiction alters an existing levy or asks voters to approve a new levy. Nix, who bills and collects but does not assess taxes, billed taxpayers $521.8 million in 2020 and will bill $565.7 million this year in two installments. Delinquent tax bills are not included in the totals.

That is an 8.4% increase ($43.8 million) because of the reassessment, new levies in two jurisdictions and school millage moves.

Reynolds’ office did the required reassessment last year and is fighting the state over a mandated average 20% value hike. Taxpayers in Hamilton and West Chester Twp. will see increases because those entities passed new road and safety services levies, respectively. The Hamilton School District also made some adjustments to take advantage of the reassessment hike.

“The folks in Hamilton are going to see their tax bills go up and it’s driven by a levy and the action that school board took by modifying their 20-mill floor threshold,” Reynolds said.

Hamilton voters approved a 3.9-mill levy last spring that will generate about $3.1 million per year for a decade. Taxpayers are paying $136.50 annually for a $100,000 home.

When the state told Reynolds he must increase property values 20% he balked at the idea, largely because of the coronavirus pandemic and a shaky economy. He proposed an average 14.5% hike. The highest value increase was 32.1% in Lemon Twp., and the lowest was 10.1% in Morgan Twp. in his proposal.

He appealed the issue to the state board of tax appeals and won’t have a hearing until September. As a result, taxpayer bills will be based on Reynolds’ rates and not the state’s for this year.

ExploreButler County auditor fighting state over 20% property value hike: What you need to know

Both Hamilton City Schools and Ross Local Schools moved inside millage from the general fund to permanent improvement funds to take advantage of the increase. Hamilton Treasurer Robert Hancock told the Journal-News the move would cost the taxpayers about $27 a year on a $100,000 home if values had gone up 20%. The increase for Hamilton was 15.5%.

Ross Schools Treasurer John Kinsel said the increase in taxes for a $100,000 home would be around $61 annually in their district. The property values jumped 10.8% there.

The Journal-News asked taxpayers on Facebook if they have seen the increase. Connie Sullivan of Hamilton said her payment increase more than $800 per year.

“While I can afford it, it’s quite a leap and, in my opinion, is excessive,” she wrote.

West Chester Twp. voters approved two new 2-mill levies for police and fire in November. The township is collecting around $5 million for each new levy and the owner of the $200,000 home will pay a little less than the estimate of $336 annually for both levies, because the value only increased 14.7%.

Nix said the tax bill delays are also due to the county receiving it’s rates from the state later than usual, and her office replaced it’s 17-year-old tax system and they want to ensure all bills are accurate.

Gary Gudmundson, the spokesman for the state department of taxation, said the delayed rates were due to Reynolds’ appeal.

“We issued rates to them to use while the appeal is pending when they filed their notice of appeal,” he said. “Butler didn’t file that notice until the end of the appeal period, which was late in January. We had Butler’s rates ready go and issued them promptly thereafter.”

The school districts receive the majority of property taxes and Lakota is the largest, “We’re taking appropriate actions to make sure that our cash flow is not impacted by this,” School Treasurer/CFO Jenni Logan said about the delay.

All the large governmental jurisdictions countywide said the delay is no cause for concern.

Nix noted people can contest their tax bills through the Butler County Board of Revisions until March 31 and the application link can be found here: www.butlercountytreasurer.org.

Continuing coverage

The Journal-News has followed every step of the Butler County Auditor’s efforts to fight state property reappraisal amounts, explaining what it means to residents and what comes next. We are the only news source watching your tax dollars in Butler County, and we’ll continue to use reporters in our communities to follow the stories.