Many Wood County residents are getting ready to receive their property tax bills next month and could be seeing increased property taxes, but the calculation is not the same across the county.
Two different major tax events took place in Wood County last year which could affect the tax rate paid on a parcel: the 2020 Triennial Update and the November election, which may have included a new tax millage, said Wood County Auditor Matt Oestreich.
There were also minor items, like the special assessment for street cleaning in Bowling Green. Taxes for that street cleaning assessment went down for some properties.
Countywide residential properties have received an average increase of 13% with the 2020 Triennial Update. Ohio law requires that each county in the state conducts a reappraisal every six years.The revaluation during the “triennial update,” which is half way through 6-year reappraisal process, is determined by neighborhood.
Wood County last conducted a countywide reappraisal in 2017.
Oestreich said that not all taxes are going up, and in fact some people will pay lower taxes.
Not everyone believes it.
“It’s a big money grab by the county,” said Joe, a Wood County homeowner who withheld his name and address and contacted the Sentinel-Tribune last week. “I’ve lived in Wood County for 15 years and never seen it like this.”
The auditor’s website shows property tax rates for each parcel. With the new website, updated in 2020, if the parcel number isn’t known, a search can be done using the first and last name of the owner, or the street address. Then scroll down the page to “Tax History.” There is a detailed listing of the taxes, as well as a column for total taxes by year.
“A new millage will directly affect taxes, starting this year,” Oestreich said.
As an example, he used Freedom Township, where a new 10-year 1.75-mill levy was passed in order to build a new township building, and it is set to collect in 2021.
“So anybody in Freedom Township, even with a no-value change, even if it maintained the same property value, would have had increased taxes this year over last year,” Oestreich said. “For a $100,000 home the taxes would increase by $61.25 per year. It will be added to your semi-annual real estate tax payment.”
Another example, Weston Township voters passed a renewal levy, which will not change the taxes paid there.
“But that’s a difficult one. House Bill 920 will lower the effective millage you pay on, on most levies. So what that House Bill, that was put in place in the 1970s, tries to prevent is levies gaining from property value growth.”
To prevent that growth it puts in a reduction factor that is determined by the Ohio Department of Taxation.
“If your value went up 10%, it would be easy, your taxes would go up 10% also. But that’s not the case for most levies, only some levies,” Oestreich said.
He explained that in Freedom Township there was also a renewal of a 2015-19 Fire and EMS 1-mill levy. It won’t collect at the same millage it was voted in at.
“Normally the value goes up because real estate appreciates in value and then House Bill 920 will lower the effective rate,” Oestreich said. “(The Freedom Township Fire and EMS Levy) the residential and agricultural taxpayer was actually paying 0.82 mills last year, and the difference between the 1 and 0.82 mills is that the value of the property appreciated over the life of the levy. Effectually, it is collecting the same as did when it was first voted. So as the property value goes up, the millage has to go down, to yield the same amount.”
House Bill 920 prevents any change in tax collection, up or down, according to Oestreich, which is also the reason municipalities like it.
“It’s a pretty stable revenue stream,” he said. “This is an important concept to understand because the reappraisal law is designed to equalize all values among taxpayers, not to enhance revenue for the taxing authorities.”
There are exceptions.
He also said that the coronavirus pandemic could negatively affect property values.
Inside millages do fluctuate with property values, but they can go up and down. They are the first 10 mills of total millage. During the Great Recession, about 10 years ago, those numbers went down as property values went down.
“The housing bubble burst. We actually lowered property values during that time and the opposite effect happened with House Bill 920. The millages actually went up, to generate the same amount of money. …The only levies they would have paid less taxes on are the 10 mills, the inside millage.”
There is also sometimes confusion about the value of a piece of property compared to a real estate agent’s listing price, because it is frequently not the same as what will be shown on some real estate marketplace data websites.
“We won’t use Zillow for anything. What we are looking for is valid sales. We look at our assessed value as compared to valid sales. We will do an assessed sales ratio. From that, based on which homes are selling in your neighborhood, we will trend up or down, depending on that. Three years from now, when we do the reappraisal, we will look at every parcel individually, rather than by neighborhood,” Oestreich said. “The real estate market in Wood County has been very robust for the past several years. It’s certainly been a seller’s market. Homes are selling quickly, frequently with multiple offers, and oftentimes at or above the list price.”
He said that those six-year reappraisals are a much more detailed analysis of each house, based on factors like: aerial photography, square footage, bathroom count and condition.
The next analysis will start this summer, but value changes will not be updated until ready in 2023, with taxes due in 2024.
“It will take awhile. We’ve got 75,000 parcels in the county, so it’s a process,” Oestreich said.
Property owners may also review their property value in person in the auditor’s office on the second floor of the county office building between the hours of 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays or by calling the office at 419-354-9173 or toll free 866-860-4140 ext. 9173.