Change in Grand Valley District Tax Bills
Information for 2nd Half Tax Bills
Full Summary, Property Owners in the Grand Valley School District will see a different charge on their Tax Bills in the second half of 2021 versus first half billing.
How did we Get Here?
The Grand Valley School District is the taxing authority for the Grand Valley Public Library. In 2013, the School District, acting at the request of the Library Board and pursuant to law, put up a continuing levy for the “current expenses of a Public Library.” That levy passed. For many years, the Library filed the tax budgeting documents and collected funds directly from the County. A few years ago, the State Auditor required the School District to include the Library Levy in its tax budgeting process and receipt the funds and disperse the funds to the Library, even if only on paper.
The Library Levy was always excluded from the calculation of current expenses for the Grand Valley Local School District’s “20-mill” floor. The 20-mill floor is a part of what is colloquially called House Bill 920. House Bill 920 limits tax increases due to inflationary increases in property values. However, by law, the support for School District’s current expenses cannot fall below 20 effective mills. That School District safety value is known as the 20-mill floor. As the School District has not had a new current expense levy in almost 30 years, the District has for some time been at the 20-mill floor.
Due to the reappraisal for tax year 2020, inclusion of the 2.0 mill levy for current expenses of the Public Library in the calculation of current expenses for the school district caused the school district to no longer be at the 20 mill floor. Under the Ohio Constitution, those funds cannot be spent for any purpose other than a Public Library. Those funds cannot be used to pay current expenses of the School District, and cannot be included in their 20 mill floor calculation. The net effect was a loss of .79 mills for current expenses of the School District or about $180,000. The School District submitted that the application of the Library Levy to the School District was not consistent with 319.301 of the Ohio Revised Code (the codification of HB 920).
The County Auditor sought a review of the tax rates by the Tax Department, and the District solicited additional local help from our attorney and former representative John Patterson who knew the Executive Administrator. Upon review, the Department determined that the school district should not be harmed by the assignment of the library levy to its budget, and the department agreed to correct the rates accordingly.
On January 6, we learned that the Ohio Tax Department is again treating the Library Levy as being separate from the School District’s tax budget. The documentation and approval were formally communicated to the County Auditor after tax bills were mailed for the first half. The School District will be receiving the 20-mills prescribed by statute for its current expenses.
As the tax bills were in the process of submission to the taxpayers, the revisions will occur as part of the second half of year tax bills. This will cause the bills, though correct, to be uneven between first and second half and for taxpayers who pay the full amount in their first half bill, to receive a tax bill correction for second half.
Video from Auditor Thomas explaining the issue.
County Auditor Releases Information for Change in Grand Valley District Tax Bills
Jefferson- Ashtabula County Auditor David Thomas shared information to tax payers in the Grand Valley School District who will be receiving tax bills this month. Property owners saw slight increases in their second half tax bills this year due to changes in classification of funding by the state.
“This change for the second half is not a tax increase compared with previous years and is not the fault of the school district or library,” explained Auditor Thomas. “Neither will have received in more money from this adjustment compared to previous year.”
In Ohio, schools are guaranteed a minimum revenue of 20 mills from their districts if levies are not above that floor of millage. Grand Valley Schools has not had a new current expense levy in almost 30 years, the District has for some time been at the 20-mill floor. In 2013 the Grand Valley Public Library placed a levy on the ballot through its taxing authority of the Grand Valley School District. Since that time, the State Auditor and State Tax Department have differed on how the levy and revenue should be treated regarding the school’s revenue and 20 mill floor minimum.
For the first half tax bill calculation in 2021, the library levy revenue was included in the school district’s 20 mill floor calculation which put the school above their minimum causing a loss of revenue. At the direction of the Department of Taxation and with the approval of the State Auditor’s Office, Ashtabula County Auditor David Thomas moved the Grand Valley Library revenue out of the 20 mill revenue calculation.
“The state allowed us to return to how our office has normally calculated the school floor, so this 2nd half tax bill adjustment brings folks’ tax rates back to a normal year and makes the school whole,” said Auditor Thomas. As a result, the Auditor’s Office calculated a .79 mill difference that is added to the second half tax bills of property owners. This revenue was received in by the school prior to this year and will be continued to be collected following the tax collection for 2021.
Property owners with a $100,000 home will see a second half bill for roughly $28 explained Auditor Thomas. “If folks paid just the first half, their second half will be a little higher than the first. If they paid the year in full, then they’ll receive a bill for just this adjustment.”
The Auditor’s Office has a full summary and explanation of the situation on their website for residents who would like to learn more in addition to those who would like to speak with Auditor Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org or 440-576-3785.