Archbold, OH
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Taxpayers In Archbold School District Overbilled On Property Taxes



Property owners in the Archbold Area School District were accidentally overcharged on their first-half 2019 property tax bills.

Brett Kolb, Fulton County auditor, said it’s the worst mistake that’s been made in more than nine years he’s been in the job.

When asked who made the error, Kolb said, “I’m not going to throw anybody under the bus. I’ll take it. I’m the auditor.”

The issue was brought to light by Christine Ziegler, Archbold school district treasurer, at the Monday, Jan. 14 school board meeting.

How?

Kolb said each year, the school district supplies information about how much money it will need to collect from taxpayers to make principal and interest payments on outstanding bonds.

Kolb explained the school provides a spreadsheet, prepared by its bond counsel.

The spreadsheet has five columns. The columns are labeled Principal, Interest, Total Payment, Calendar Year Payments and Fiscal Year Payments.

A calendar year stretches from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31. A fiscal year covers July 1 to June 30.

Rather than select the calendar year column as the basis for the computations, the calendar and fiscal year columns were added together. That number was then used to continue the calculations.

When the calculations– based on the wrong number– were complete, Kolb said the office calculated the millage needed to raise enough money to cover bond payments was 3.2 mills.

“It should be 1.7,” he said.

It essentially doubled the amount to be collected on only the tax levied to repay bonds sold for construction.

For the owner of a home valued at $100,000, the overcharge amounts to about $35.

By the time the error was discovered, tax bills were already going into the mail.

Fix

“We accept the responsibility, and we’re going to fix it,” Kolb said.

There are two ways to pay property taxes.

A taxpayer can pay the tax bill for the full year, or pay in half-year installments.

“In talking with the (Ohio) Department of Taxation, they said the only solution we have is to issue refunds to people who paid for a full year, (and) reduce collections for those that only pay half,” he said.

First-half collections are due Tuesday, Feb. 5.

The second-half collection is due Monday, July 22.

“Basically, we were going to collect the payment twice. So, the second half, we’ll only be collecting about two-tenths (.2) of a mill instead of the full 1.7,” Kolb said.

Discovered

Kolb said once someone makes this kind of error– misreading the spreadsheet– “you never look back. You’re only calculating a number after that.

“That’s the way it is.”

When Kolb gets the information he checks the calculation, but not how the numbers were chosen to use in the calculation.

“So when Mrs. Ziegler called and questioned what her revenue was going to be, of course the tax bills were already created at that time.

“I grabbed the same sheet. I’m looking for a number.”

He explained how he arrived at the number, but said Ziegler told him, “’I don’t think we need that much money for payment.’

“She said, ‘I don’t see that we need this almost $1.3 million.’

“I said, ‘How much do you need?’ and she said, ‘Well, let me get back with you.’

“As soon as she said that, the light bulbs went on. I started looking at the top of the spread sheet, and I said, ‘ummmm, yup.’

“Like I said, we’ll own it. I’m not trying to blame the school, I’m not blaming anybody else. We made an error… and we’re fixing it.”

Feels Bad

Kolb said he won’t terminate the employee who made the error.

“We talked about it. I think you know me… it doesn’t do any good to yell and scream. We changed the way we’re going to do it from here forward.

“That’s the best thing about a mistake. As long as you learn something, we all learn something, and I was glad we were able to come up with a solution where nobody gets harmed.



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