Middletown property values continue to drop

Middletown schools officials say the district anticipates collecting about $500,000 less in property tax revenues next year than it did in 2012.

School officials said Monday they expect the district’s tax budget to decline for the eighth consecutive year. The district collected about $27.8 million in property tax revenue in 2012, $27.5 million in 2013 and is projected to collect $27.3 million this year, said Treasurer Kelley Thorpe.

That’s because the value of the property in the district continues to drop. She said the total value of the property for the district is $712,307,750, or 0.56 percent less than it was last year. For Middletown, the total value has dropped “dramatically” since 2006 when it topped $1 billion, Thorpe said. The total loss would have been more noticeable except that the value of public utilities increased by $5 million because of the gas lines being installed, she said.

She called the loss of $500,000 in revenue over the last two years “a decent amount” of money particularly during these tight budgets. To make up for the loss in revenue, Thorpe said, the district may have to make budget cuts or find ways to reduce spending. As an example, she said, if experienced teachers retire, they may be replaced with first-year, less costly, teachers.

On or before Jan. 15 of each year, every school district in Ohio must adopt a tax budget for the ensuing fiscal year, and the budget must be certified to the County Auditor by Jan. 20, Thorpe said. The tax budget is used to justify the need for taxes in order to operate the district, she said.

She said once the property tax base valuation has been determined, the county auditor sets the tax rates for the upcoming calendar year. She said tax rollback laws prevent existing properties from paying higher taxes without an additional vote. She said the district can only receive additional taxes as a result of new construction or additional levies.

She said the 0.24 mill permanent improvement fund should generate about $171,000 this year.

Also, members of the Middletown City School District board of education, president Marcia Andrew, vice president and the Rev. Greg Tyus, Christi Delloma, Katie McNeil and DeAnna Shores, voted to be paid $125 per meeting, the most allowed by law. Then, for the third consecutive year, they agreed to accept a voluntary 10 percent reduction in pay, or $12.50 less per meeting.