Auditor Nix Testifies in Support of HB 187

Butler County Auditor Nancy Nix offered testimony Tuesday in the Ohio House Ways and Means Committee in full support of HB 187, the Ohio Homeowners Relief Act. The bill would force the state tax commissioner to equally weight three years of sales in determining the sales assessment ratio for those counties conducting a triennial update or full reappraisal.

nancy testified support of house billUnder current law, the tax commissioner has wide latitude and is not required to weigh each year equally. As such, the tax commissioner is recommending an overall 42 percent increase in residential property values in Butler County for 2023 based primarily on 2022 sales. The average increase would be closer to 25 percent if HB 187 passes.

“The changes to the legislation give the County Auditor more discretion and local control over their values,” Auditor Nix told the committee. “As County Treasurer before, during and after the ’08 financial crisis, I have seen firsthand the negative impacts high taxation can have on at-risk populations. During those years, Butler County’s real estate tax delinquency rates shot up from 2 percent to almost 10 percent, and foreclosures numbered in the thousands. We must take
action now to prevent a recurrence of such a calamity.”

Also giving proponent testimony from Butler County were County Commissioner Don Dixon, Sheriff Richard Jones, Middletown Vice Mayor Monica Nenni, and Middletown’s Rachel Lewitt of the Ohio Realtors.

Joint-sponsors of the bill are State Reps Thomas Hall (R-Madison Twp.) and Adam Bird (R-New Richmond). Hall is also on the Ways and Means Committee.

Even though Butler County officials have led the way on this issue, a total of 41 Ohio counties will see value increases this year. Value change recommendations have also been sent to the 12 other counties conducting a triennial update this year and the combined average increase sought by the tax commissioner is 34 percent. Besides Butler, only two other counties were recommended to increase by
40 percent or more, Clermont (43) and Knox (40).

While HB 187 is a step in the right direction, more must be done in the Legislature to protect property owners from unvoted, inflationary tax increases.

Due to House Bill 920, passed in 1976, inflationary property value increases have for years only had a minor impact on corresponding tax increases because tax rates could be adjusted downward so levies would still collect their voted amount. However, the law also specifies that the application of these tax reduction factors cannot cause a school district’s effective current expense millage rate (inside and outside combined) to fall below 20 mills (this is referred to as the 20-mill floor). In Butler County, 8 of the 10 school districts are at the 20-mill floor. Only Lakota and Fairfield are not.

While tax rates can be adjusted downward in those two school districts to lessen tax increases, homeowners in the other eight districts will receive a tax increase on the school portion of their tax bill in direct correlation to their property value increase following the state-mandated triennial update.

“Every part of the equation should be scrutinized, not just values, which the county has been battling for years,” Nix has said.