School Districts Petition to Up Owners’ Tax Assessments

Posted by Amrock

Some residents in Toledo, Ohio, were surprised by hikes on recent property tax notices, reports the Toledo Blade. The source of the property tax hike wasn’t a new tax levy measure, an increase in the local real estate market, or a reassessment by the county auditor. Local school districts have the right to file petitions for property assessments where the sale price exceeds the last assessed value by more than $50,000, says the report.

Districts seek “fair share” of tax revenue

The article reports on the elderly homeowner, Penny O’Brien, who bought a $300,000 condominium a year ago, budgeting $5,630 for annual taxes. However, a notice this year informed the retiree her annual taxes could go up to nearly $10,000.

Local public schools are reportedly allowed to contest the assessed values of properties, an opportunity Lucas County, Ohio school districts are taking advantage of. Officials told the news outlet the rule exists so that districts can collect their “fair share” of local tax revenue without asking voters to approve higher overall tax rates.

Auditor says schools asking “too much” after levy increase

However, a local county auditor, Anita Lopez, told the news outlet the schools were asking “too much” of local taxpayers. School-initiated appeals reportedly climbed from 45 in 2015 to 256 in 2016. Lopez prefers for tax assessments to remain as is until 2018 when the Auditor’s Office will update all property valuations in the county. “It’s not fair. Especially when your school district isn’t financially struggling, and you just received a giant levy,” Lopez told reporters, citing a recently approved 5.7-mill levy expected to bring in $7.8 million for the school district.

A school board official argued the district was only filing appeals on properties it deems “undervalued, and therefore under-taxed.” In the case of O’Brien, the condo reportedly has an assessed value of $170,000. It sold in 2013 for $220,000 and, after upgrades, sold again in 2016 to O’Brien for $300,000. The article noted that while O’Brien voted for the levy increase, she is planning to contest the school district’s claim.

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