September 2, 2014

Elyria
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Auditor’s reappraisal shows 8% drop in property values across county

Everybody’s properties are worth less in all the cities, townships and villages in Lorain County, and that drop likely will mean that area governments are going to have to make cuts to make up for the lost revenue.

The Lorain County auditor’s 2012 reappraisal found that land values dropped countywide by about 8 percent. Lorain and the village of LaGrange saw the biggest value changes, dropping by more than 12 percent since 2006.

County auditors completed an analysis of property sales, excluding foreclosures and sheriff sales, in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Auditors also studied 707 neighborhoods — 582 residential and 125 commercial — to make their adjustments.

While many properties saw a decrease in value, county Auditor Mark Stewart said there were some properties here and there that had an increase, but they were anomalies in that they were in areas that experienced declines.

Stewart said Lorain may have experienced the largest drop because of many of the city’s properties are older. He added that predatory lending and a large amount of stripped, abandoned and foreclosed properties could play a factor as well.

Despite the value decrease, Stewart said residents will likely not see a relief in taxes.

“If your value in Lorain goes down 12 percent, that doesn’t mean your taxes are going down 12 percent. It might be going down 2 or 3 percent, but if you’re going to pay less and your neighbors are going to pay less, the government will not have as much money to work with,” he said. “So your city’s not going to be able to provide as much services.”

Lorain County will lose as much as $813,738 in 2013, according to Stewart, and the city of Lorain will be losing $505,203. Across the county, estimated total tax losses to local governments in 2013 will be $2,661,379, while school districts will lose $2,265,598.

Elyria City Auditor Ted Pileski said the approximate $300,000 loss Elyria may experience would be enough, but with the repeal of the estate tax in January and local government funding cuts of $600,000, the cuts would “wreak havoc” on Elyria’s general fund.

Because the city cannot raise income taxes, Pileski said the solution will likely be to make several cuts.

Sheffield Mayor John Hunter said that with decreases in other state funding, the village will likely have to make cuts as well.

Sheffield is projected to lose almost $33,000.

“Am I happy about reducing the budget? No. But we’ll do what we have to do to keep our city running,” Hunter said.

Local schools may also see the crunch, said Chief Deputy Auditor Linda Keys.

With value decreases to school properties, North Ridgeville Schools and Lorain Schools will see the largest loss of revenue.

North Ridgeville is projected to lose $348,249. Lorain and Elyria school districts are expected to lose $312,440 and $290,468, respectively.

There is some good news, however.

Stewart said transfers in 2012 have shown there has been an uptick in the housing market, with more conveyances with fewer foreclosure sales and more regular sales.

House prices have risen some this year as well.

According to Standard and Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Prices Index, house prices in the Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor area were 0.4 percent higher than in July 2011, and data from the Northern Ohio Regional Multiple Listing Service shows a 4.9 percent increase in August from a year before across 15 Northeast Ohio counties.

Stewart said it is too early to tell whether the market will improve, however.

“At best, we would say it’s stabilized,” he said.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com.