Butler County property taxpayers can check the auditor’s website to see their “tentative” new property values based on astronomical state-mandated increases, but the tax hikes won’t be known until January.
County Auditor Nancy Nix has received the final property value increases from the state and the median residential value hike countywide is 37%, a drop from the original 42% increase order but still a horrendous hit for many taxpayers, especially on fixed incomes.
The percentage increases have changed a couple times, but now that the numbers are set, people can go on the website and see how much their property value is estimated to increase. Nix told the Journal-News she knows taxpayers will have many questions.
“Our office has been trying for many months to prepare residents for large increases in their residential values due to historic inflation brought on by federal government policies,” Nix told the Journal-News. “We’ll be conducting a series of five Town Hall meetings in October for residents to obtain a better understanding of their values. At these meetings they will be able to ask questions and speak directly with an appraiser. We’ll be mailing a postcard to every property owner with meeting times and places.”
The highest median increase is in Monroe at 41% and the lowest is 25% in the little sliver of Sharonville that resides within the county. Fairfield and Middletown will have a median increase of 40% and in a dozen of the tax districts the hikes are 35% or more.
Real Estate Director Mike Stein said tax increases won’t be available until early January, they must wait until the state calculates the effective rates. That can’t be done until after the November election because there are tax levy questions on the ballot in Millville and Ross Twp.
Nix has issued a challenge of sorts to local taxing districts asking them to forgo the tax windfall that will result from the large increases. If all agree taxpayers would realize a tax savings of nearly $41 million.
Stein sent letters to all the schools and governments that collect taxes to provide services along with their estimated windfall amounts.
“Butler County Auditor Nancy Nix believes these forthcoming high tax increases are a collective problem and that it is incumbent upon all of us to help mitigate the impact to taxpayers,” he wrote. “She is requesting that local governments who receive inflationary increases in their unvoted (or inside) millage voluntarily forgo in good faith the increased amounts the new property values would generate for one year. This would allow time for our state lawmakers to find a more permanent solution.”
If the commissioners passed on the windfall it would be almost a $5.8 million tax savings countywide. They rolled back their entire general fund property tax collection last year, which amounted to $18.5 million or $67 per $100,000. This rollback would not include countywide social service levies like Children Services.
Nix met with the commissioners on Monday to discuss the tax break. County Administrator Judi Boyko told the commissioners that to this point they have not included the tax windfall into their revenue projections — $120 million in the general fund — for next year.
Commissioner T.C. Rogers asked what the average impact would be per taxpayer, “is it $200 or $1,000 or what.” Nix said without the rates they can’t give a concrete estimate but said she told the Journal-News about $40 per home but that varies widely on the home value and “that’s as good anything we have right now, it might be $30 to $40.”
“People live in such a variety of housing values, some houses may be $80,000 and while some others are $400,000, we can’t really zero in on that,” Nix said about estimating savings. “The higher the house value the more savings you are going to incur. You could say the impact to the lower valued homes is lower it’s, just the nature of ad valorem taxes.”
Rogers said he’s still “struggling” with his decision on this issue.
“I, for one, in making a decision, want to do something,” he said. “It’s just whether an amount that may be small to each person, if there was a way to take that same money and do something to be more impactful, for want of another word. That’s what I’m struggling with.”
Commissioner Cindy Carpenter expressed deep concerns about the disparity in benefits to individual taxpayers when they approved the $18 million rollback. She told Nix she wants to see that breakdown as she ponders this ask.
The Journal-News obtained the breakdown and it shows West Chester residents and businesses reaped the biggest total benefit at $4.37 million compared to Middletown at $1.47 million. Tiny Jacksonburg property owners saved $1,628.
The document shows 20,549 West Chester Twp. residents saved $3 million and 17,444 Middletown homeowners saved $1 million.
The commissioners did not take action on Nix’s request and she said to her knowledge while all the schools and jurisdictions are discussing it, none of them have made decisions yet either.
Commissioner Don Dixon told the Journal-News he is inclined to take the tax cut.
“I think that’s doable, that’s certainly something we can do but I’m speaking for myself,” Dixon said. “This is something I think we can do because we have placed the county in such a strong financial position we can help out in instances like these.”