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School Tax Shift Plan Called Additional Tax Without Vote Of People




John Downey, president of the Archbold Education Association, said the district’s recent financial moves were a way to increase taxes without a vote of the people.

The AEA is a group that represents the school district’s teachers.

Downey provided information about the tax-shifting plan to the Archbold Buckeye during the Monday night, Oct. 20, Archbold Area School Board meeting.

Following the meeting, David Deskins, superintendent, said the money-shifting plan was never represented to the public as a tax reduction.

The plan, Deskins said, was to allow the district to establish a permanent improvement fund. Any increase in millage was offset by a rollback in the millage for repayment of school construction bonds.

Downey said state law required the district to reduce that millage, anyway.

Nancy Yackee, Fulton County auditor, said the Fulton County Budget Commission monitors the bond repayment levies yearly.

Downey asked the board why the taxpayers of the school district were only getting a $9 tax refund per $100 assessed valuation, when they should be getting $63 per $100.

Christine Ziegler, school treasurer, said she couldn’t verify Downey’s figures until the final numbers came in from the Fulton County auditor’s office.

Yackee said Ziegler should have the same figures available to Downey.

The Numbers

The Buckeye contacted Yackee Tuesday morning to verify the numbers provided by Downey.

Yackee said, currently, the Archbold Area School District collects 48.86 mills on all of its various tax levies, but that figure is reduced to 31.96 effective mills under Ohio law, to counteract the effects of inflation.

Before the district created the Permanent Improvement fund, Downey said and Yackee confirmed, the district was collecting 20.05 mills for its general operations.

Downey said the addition of a 4.91-mill emergency levy means the district was collecting 24.96 mills for operations.

In a move allowed by Ohio law, the board, at its Sept. 15 meeting, approved moving 1.8 “inside,” or unvoted mills, to create a permanent improvement fund. The fund will go to repair or replace school buildings and equipment.

That reduced the district’s general operations millage to 18.25 mills.

However, Downey said, and Yackee confirmed, that Ohio law requires school districts to collect a minimum of 20 mills for general operations.

So when the district moved the 1.8 mills to the permanent improvement fund, the general fund millage was increased.

In effect, an additional 1.75 mills of tax burden was placed on the school district without a vote of the people, Downey said.

Rollback

The increase in property taxes was offset when school offi- cials requested the millage collected to repay the construction bonds be reduced by 2.1 mills.

The 2.1-mill reduction reduces the 1.75-mill tax increase to a .35 mill tax savings.

That, Yackee said, works out to a $10.72 savings per $100 (different from Downey’s original $9 savings.)

However, Downey said taxpayers should be receiving $63 per $100 accessed, reflecting the entire 2.1 mills of bond rollback without the 1.75-mill tax increase from the creation of the permanent improvement fund.

Downey used the term “refund” during the board meeting, but taxpayers will not receive a check from the auditor’s office; rather, their taxes will be reduced.

But Ziegler is quick to point out several factors could alter or change some of the figures.

For example, exact figures from the countywide reappraisal of property taxes are not yet available, and if home values go up, property taxes will go up.

Yackee said she has provided estimated figures to school offi- cials across Fulton County.

Also, Ziegler said exact tax rates for tax year 2008, payable 2009, are not ready.

“We should have those in the middle of November,” Yackee said

“It’s a complicated process,” Yackee said.

Not A Savings

Deskins said the board’s proposal was never presented to the public as a tax-savings plan. Rather, it allowed the school district to create a muchneeded permanent improvement fund, without new, voted taxes.

“The intent was not to reduce taxes. That was never conveyed to the public,” Deskins said. David Pugh


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