December 19, 2014

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Property tax hikes on the way for Lorain County residents

All Lorain County property owners will see higher property tax bills, but those living in the Midview school district are expected to see the largest jump, according to Lorain County Auditor Craig Snodgrass.

In that school district, which encompasses five taxing districts, the owner of a $100,000 home will pay approximately $366 more in property taxes.

“We have heard from some people that they’re going up a thousand dollars on their tax bills,” Snodgrass said.

Snodgrass said the increase can be attributed to a 10-year, 9.75-mill property tax levy that was approved by voters in February. The tax levy will raise $4.6 million annually for Midview Schools.

Snodgrass said Midview’s increase is the most dramatic and unique.

When the school levy was on the ballot in February, property values in the district had not yet been certified by the state. Snodgrass said the millage had to be adjusted later because of declining property values after a reappraisal.

“It was voted on at one rate at a higher value,” he said. “We need to guarantee the money comes in, so based upon valuation, if the value goes up, we can knock that rate down a little.”

Four countywide levies — a Lorain County Community College renewal levy with an increase, a Board of Developmental Disabilities replacement levy, a 911 replacement levy with increase and a Criminal Justices Services Levy — accounted for a 1.24 millage increase for all taxing districts.

With the passage of levies, Avon Lake school district will also see a sizable increase, with the owner of a $100,000 home paying $281.15 more in property taxes.

In the Columbia school district, homeowners will pay $228.40 more.

Snodgrass said there are various considerations when looking at tax rates.

New construction can lessen the tax burden — the amount gets spread out over more properties — while property devaluations and demolitions can increase the amount property owners will have to pay.

As the values of some properties shrank, other property owners will have to pay more in order for tax levies for schools and other entities to continue to collect the same amount of money, Snodgrass said.

The Lorain school district, for example, experienced a $1.8 million decrease in property values from 2012 to 2013, likely due to a large number of demolitions and Board of Revisions cases, in which property owners appeal what the county says their homes are worth, according to Snodgrass.

Snodgrass, who lives in Lorain but who is in the Amherst school district, saw the value of his home remain the same, but he’ll see his taxes rise, he said.

Last year, Snodgrass said he paid approximately $4,700 in property taxes. This year, he’ll pay $4,808 due to the countywide levies.

“There was not enough growth, districtwise, to really offset any of (the county levies),” he said.

Snodgrass said the devaluation of the NRG plant, which is expected to drain $1.3 million in annual revenue from the Avon Lake school district and $158,000 from the city, shifted more responsibility to homeowners to make up the lost revenue.

“It really offset the gains in value that they have,” he said.

More information on tax rates is available at the Lorain County auditor’s website.

Information will also be published on the Lorain County Auditor’s Office’s Facebook page.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @ChelseaMillerCT.