Senator seeks to delay rollback

COLUMBIANA – State Sen. Joe Schiavoni (D-33rd) has heard the plea of the Columbiana School District regarding the rollback elimination included in the new state budget.

The provision eliminates the 12.5 percent of automatic reduction on all new and replacement property levies currently being paid by the state. It affects levies passed this November and beyond.

The senator is introducing legislation that would delay the provision from taking effect for those districts that had already approved seeking new tax levies on the Nov. 5 election.

Earlier this year the Columbiana district approved putting a $4 million bond issue on the November ballot. District Treasurer Lori Posey contacted Schiavoni after learning the rollback elimination would result in an increase to taxpayers on the bond issue.

Voters rejected the 1.23-mill bond issue at the May 7 election by 131 votes. At that time taxpayers were looking at an increase of $18.83 on a $50,000 home and $37.67 a year on a $100,000 home.

The elimination of the rollback will mean the owner of a $100,000 home will pay $43.04 a year on the bond issue.

Schiavoni voted against the state budget and said the provision hurts school districts.

“There are many districts across the state that are in the same boat. This was a major complaint when I was making my senate speech,” he said.

On Tuesday he sent out a formal request to all senators requesting a co-sponsor on the bill that would move the effective date of the rollback elimination.

“It has come to my attention that the provision included in the state budget that eliminated these rollbacks may negatively affect bond issues being brought forth by schools and local governments later this year. With numerous school districts and municipalities approving tax levies for November ballots before the budget legislation was enacted, these changes seem unfair if certain costs and tax increases have already been calculated for property owners,” he said in the request.

He said he is specifically hoping to gain Republican and Democratic co-sponsors because conservative and liberal districts across the state are having the same issues.

The delay would not pertain to any replacement levies according to his legislation that is being presented as an emergency. Emergency legislation takes effect immediately upon passage.

He said he also received a letter from the superintendent of South Range Schools expressing concern about the provision.

“Now you’re going to have to go out to your communities and sell levies that are more expensive than they were previously, and that just doesn’t make sense to me. It’s hard enough to pass levies for most school districts, let alone for more expensive levies,” he said.

Gary Gudmundson, of the Ohio Department of Taxation, defended the provision.

“The argument for starting to rollback the rollback is really one that is based on two principles, which is fairness and transparency,” he said.

He said the rollback was initiated in the 1970s as a trade-off on the income tax and as a result subsidized property owners’ taxes with income and sale taxes paid by all Ohioans.

Eliminating the rollback eliminates what was a contribution from state taxpayers who had no say over the levies, which isn’t fair, he explained.

With regards to transparency, most people don’t understand their property tax is reduced by this subsidy, he said.

“It’s really hiding the true impact of the cost of local government. If you can increase the transparency you can help taxpayers realize what they are really paying to local government,” he said.

He went on to say that as the rollback subsidy starts to “disappear” Ohio residents will “truly be bearing the cost of local government and be deciding whether that’s a cost they want to pay.”