Property tax rates surprise some residents

Sugarcreek Twp. resident Jerry Streithorst had one word to describe the more than $9,000 a year property tax bill for his home on eight acres in Greene County.

“Ridiculous,” he said. “I’ve been there almost 10 years. I like where I’m at, but I couldn’t commit myself to looking again in Greene County if I moved.”

Click here to see the data

The Dayton Daily News — working with county auditors from Greene, Miami, Montgomery and Warren counties — spent two months collecting and analyzing residential property tax data from 99 communities.

What evolved and was reported — in an Oct. 28 story — is a view of the way residential property taxes compare in communities across the region. The newspaper used property tax statistics — calculated by each county’s auditor — to examine 2011 tax bills in two ways: property taxes charged in each city, township and village and the percentage of home value that is paid in property taxes annually in each of the jurisdictions.

All results were presented as median, or midpoint, values.

Some residents, like Streithorst, said they weren’t surprised to see their community near the top of their county list for median home value and median taxes charged, but small town residents were surprised to find their jurisdictions high on the list of communities ranked by taxes charged as a percentage of home value.

Three factors influenced where communities ranked in this analysis: whether residents pay an income tax for city services or schools, the diversity of the tax base (whether there is a mix of commercial, industrial and residential properties) and the amount of property tax millage voted to fund local schools.

Chris Bethel said school districts were an important factor when he and his wife Kelly moved from Beavercreek and built a new home in Sugarcreek Twp. in 2007.

“We knew that the property taxes were on the higher end,” he said. “As a family, we’re willing to pay the higher property tax to have the school district we do.”

The couple, with children ages 2 and 3, said they had concerns about levy support for Beavercreek City Schools.

“They have had issues with passing a levy,” he said.

Since 2003, Beavercreek has had 14 levies on the ballot — five renewals that passed; three attempts at a bond issue, which passed in Novembeer 2008; and six attempts at new-money levies, including one on Tuesday’s ballot. Voters are being asked to consider a 6.7 mill, emergency propety tax levy that would raise $10.9 million annually for the district. The levy will cost residents $205 annually per $100,000 of appraised value on their homes.

“The school district (Bellbrook-Sugarcreek) has stayed ahead of the growth and they are one of the top school districts,” Bethel said.

Preliminary data released by the Ohio Department of Education on October 17 indicates that the Beavercreek City School District and Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Local Schools both earned an “Excellent” rating.

David Glover of Washington Twp, said he’s just glad to see property values beginning to rebound in Montgomery County. The median home value in the township was $175,750 and median property taxes charged $4,284, or 2.44 percent of the home value. While near the top in the value and taxes charged ranking, Washington Twp. was seventh out of 31 jurisdictions in Montgomery County for taxes charged as a percentage of home value.

“Taxes seem reasonable,” Glover said.

Washington Twp. residents within the Centerville City School District — rated “Excellent with Distiction” by the state — are being asked to consider a 5.9-mill operating levy on the Nov. 6 ballot. It’s a continuing levy and would raise $4.9 million in 2013 and $9.8 million annually starting in 2014. The permanent tax issue would cost the owner of a $100,000 house about $180 per year.

Michael Treon, owner of Treon’s Barber Styling in Piqua, said learning that the city of about 20,522 people ranked third in the county for property taxes charged as a percentage of home value wasn’t great news. But Treon said he’s committed to the community that has been his life-long home.

“Like anybody else, I’d like to see us get more industry and more restaurants,” Treon said. “We seem to struggle in those areas. I know Piqua is trying. I hope things get better rather than worse.”

The city of Piqua is asking voters to approve a 0.25 percent additional earned income tax for operations and capital costs for the police and fire departments. The city’s current income tax rate is 1.75 percent. A person with earned income of $30,000 would pay an added $75 per year in income tax if the ballot issue is approved. The tax would generate about $1 million a year.

Treon is undecided on the tax issue.

“I feel like I’m taxed pretty hard,” he said. “Most of the time I vote for what is good for the community. I’m torn this time. I have to look a little more into how it will impact my finances.”

Rita Shiveley, a 43-year resident of Wayne Twp. in Warren County, said she appreciates that the township and Wayne Local Schools aren’t often on the ballot. She had no complaints about the township’s ranking near the bottom of the Warren County chart for taxes paid as a percentage of home value.

“It’s a quiet community with lots of farms,” she said. “The fire department is great.”

Gus Edwards, Wayne Twp. administrator said, the municipality has few residential subdivisions and doesn’t offer some of the amenities available to residents of larger townships. The township has a full-time fire chief, but the department is mostly staffed by volunteers. Having just five full-time staff in the township helps to keep the cost of government low, he said.

The township has two voted levies, both for fire services. One of them, a 1.8-mills, five-year levy for capital expenses , is up for renewal this fall. Approval would not raise property taxes, Warren County Auditor Nick Nelson said. The owner of a $100,000 home would continue paying $55.12 a year if voters give a positive nod to the renewal.

To pay for maintenance on its 40 miles of roads, the township uses 1.84 mills of inside millage — millage imposed by local governments without voter approval.

“We live within our means,” Edwards said. “On thing that drives cost is payroll and we try to keep that at a minimum.”

Laura Adams of Kettering said she experienced sticker shock when she bought a house earlier this month and learned her property taxes would be about $3,000 a year, compared to the $185 she paid in London, KY. She was surprised to see Kettering ranked 12th on Montgomery County’s list for taxes as a percentage of home value, in the middle range.

“I thought the taxes were quite high,” Adams said.

The median home value in Kettering was $111,450 and median property taxes charged, $2,494.25, or 2.24 percent of the value.

Ron Shubert, who has lived in Kettering 20 years, said he considers his property taxes “reasonable” compared to neighboring jurisdictions.

“It’s not as high as some and it’s lower than others. It’s somewhere in between,” Shubert said.

Like Treon in Piqua, Shubert said he wants to see industrial growth in Kettering.

“I think it creates a better environment. People have jobs and can afford to keep up their properties. It adds value,” he said.

When Lt. Col. Rick Webster and his wife Jennifer moved from Centerville to Bellbrook in 2005, they were looking for a community with lower property taxes. Centerville also had a municipal income tax, that the couple hoped to escape altogether.

“In the beginning, that was one of the features of Bellbrook,” Webster said. “It had none of the city taxes.”

Now, Webster says his property taxes are more than double what they were in 2009.

Bellbrook, with a median property value of $144,230 and median taxes charged of $3,295 was No. 1 on the Greene County list of residential property taxes charged as a percentage of home value in the Dayton Daily News ranking. The city of Beavercreek tied Sugarcreek Twp. for second place.

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