The January tax burden was higher for many and this has drawn taxpayers’ attention to the question of why. Here is a brief explanation:
As required by the state, the property values on the tax rolls are adjusted every three years by the district auditor. A nationwide reassessment was carried out in 2017 (and the next 2023). In the event of a re-evaluation, the properties are examined in detail and new values are determined by licensed experts.
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In the meantime between three years (last year, 2020) a “three year update” is carried out to improve the accuracy of the values between re-evaluations. New values are calculated based on the most recent property sales in defined areas – usually structured by school district. The methodology is regulated by the state of Ohio, and the county’s accountants are regulated and supervised by the state accountant and the State Department of Taxation.
With increasing property values, the property tax rates for schools and fire / security charges (approx. 60 to 80% of your bill) are reduced in order to keep the income generated unchanged. Ohio law puts a 20 mills limit on how low property taxes for schools can be indexed down. Therefore, 20 mills is an absolute minimum (for ongoing expense taxes, no bond or enhancement taxes). Every school district in Licking County except Granville has reached this floor for current school funding.
Now, when property values rise, indexing will no longer occur and property taxes will rise proportionally (again except for those in the Granville School District, whose taxes are still indexed). In 2017 and 2020, I gave myself a brief overview of home sales in the individual regions using the data from the Multiple Listing Service that is available to me as a real estate agent. I found that the values per square foot increased by over 20% over that three year period. This increase corresponds to the increase in valuations and the property tax levied by the auditor.
Property values have risen significantly in all parts of the district in recent years. With mortgage rates around 2.8% on a 30 year mortgage (now is a good time to refinance!), Buyers can afford to pay more. There is also a record shortage of homes for sale; The high demand with little supply has pushed real estate prices upwards. In the past, house values in this market have increased by around 3-4% annually. The values of the last year averaged 7-10% compared to the previous year’s values.
More:Licking County Real Estate Market: Low inventory + high demand = rising sales prices
Maintaining accurate property values on the books is one of the reasons we choose the county auditor. Exact values were reflected in the sales prices of houses that were sold in 2020. I have great respect for Auditor Mike Smith for taking up this challenge – a great job and with a politically unpopular result. Remember that the bulk of your property tax goes towards schools and fire safety. Keeping the schools and fire / security strong is the best way to add value to your home. Strong schools are good for our children and also for our community.
Look at the taxable value of your property on your tax bill and ask yourself the question, “Would I sell for that price?” If the answer is “No!” Does it mean that you may be happy with your current value. If you were to sell for taxable value then maybe it’s high. You can file a complaint with the auditor’s office to challenge the assessment in a hearing with the audit committee. You need some data to secure yourself if you dispute the value. Complaints must be submitted to the auditor by March 31st.
Jim Bidigare is an associate broker at Coldwell Banker Realty in Licking County and a member of the editorial board of The Advocate.