COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Capping property tax rates is something that is done in 34 states, but Ohio is not one of them.
That could change if lawmakers take up a piece of legislation being put together by State Sen. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus) with help from Franklin County Auditor Michael Stinziano.
Franklin County is seeing a lot of growth according to Stinziano and that growth has side effects.
”We’ve heard from a lot of folks that they feel they’re being priced out based on property taxes of communities and neighborhoods they’ve lived in for two, three, four decades,” said Stinziano.
”We want the growth to occur, we want the communities to continue to have growth and renovation, but not at the expense of families that have lived there, that have put their roots there,” said Craig.
In order to try and give people the option of staying in their neighborhoods and homes they have spent years in, Craig is looking at property tax rate increase caps from all over the country, choosing Nevada’s 3 percent cap as the model for Ohio’s property tax cap proposal.
There are some big differences though.
In Ohio, property taxes pay for schools, so capping them could cause school districts to take a major hit. To resolve this, Craig’s bill would take the amount the property tax rate would have increased beyond the 3 percent and transferred the responsibility for that funding onto the state.
“If you are a school district or if you’re a county-wide program, you would receive the same amount of funds that you were receiving before,” Stinziano said. “It just gets essentially back-filled on the state end.”
However, this would mean the state would have to find the money somewhere, which means other services would shoulder the burden.
“We want to make sure that our seniors that have built their homes, that are older, we want to make sure that they can stay in place,” said Craig.
“It’s about priorities and if you want people to be able to age and continue in their neighborhoods, is this going to be a priority over something else,” said Stinziano.
With property assessments planned for next year, the pair feels now is the time to address a property cap.
”Looking forward, knowing we’re going to have a triennial update in 2020 across the county, it’s very concerning what those 20-30 percent appraised values could have on whatever tax rate is going on in that local municipality,” said Stinziano. “If this had been in place in 2018, this would have impacted 60,000 property owners in Franklin County alone.”
The bill is being touted as a non-partisan issue from Craig who said it will help Ohioans no matter where they live in the state.
Stinziano added it would have no ill effect on parts of Ohio that are trending in the opposite direction as Franklin County and seeing their tax base disappearing, saying they are unlikely to hit an increase above the 3 percent tax rate even with a cap.
“We’ve got this enormous growth that is occurring in the city of Columbus, that’s a good thing, but it’s how we grow,” said Craig. “Doing nothing is not helpful.”
The bill is expected to be introduced in early 2020.