Rollback tax loss changes game for levies

Taxing authorities that have begun the process of putting replacement levies on the November General Election ballot may want to reconsider since the Ohio Legislature passed and Gov. John Kasich signed the elimination of the 12.5 percent property rollback on new and replacement levies.

Champion trustees, for example, began exploring a replacement levy for its police department to cover updating equipment and maintaining staff. The department operates on three 1-mill levies that generate $245,380.

Brookfield trustees, too, began the process of putting a police replacement levy on the ballot. Trustees plan on asking voters to replace a 2.1-mill levy with a 1.6-mill levy that would increase revenue by approximately $100,000.

Unlike renewals, which leave the cost to taxpayers unchanged, replacement levies adjust to current property values. In most cases, property values increased since the levy first passed, or since the last time it was replaced, so it triggers a tax increase. This is why Brookfield can replace with fewer mills and still get more money.

Champion voters approved a 1-mill replacement levy for its Fire Department last year. The difference this year for Champion and Brookfield police and any others who seek replacement levies, is that new money is not subject to the state’s 12.5 percent rollback. So if Champion approves the 1-mill replacement for police in November, it will cost taxpayers more than the 1-mill fire levy they approved last year.

Those who approve replacement levies will actually pay a 14 percent increase. That’s because mathematically, after reducing the cost by 12.5 percent, it then needs to go up 14 percent to return to its original cost.

It will be important for Champion and Brookfield trustees, and all other taxing authorities moving forward, to include the rollback elimination when informing taxpayers about the cost of their levies.