2011-02-12 / News

Trustee questions fairness of dual taxation

By Charles Prince

JACKSONTOWN – President Joe Hart’s comments about a meeting on annexation with Licking County Prosecutor Ken Oswalt dominated Monday night’s Licking Township Trustees’ meeting.

“This is a fairly complex situation,” he told trustees. Oswalt had invited townships to send one trustee and their fiscal officer to a January 19 meeting.

There are five types of annexation, Hart explained. “But basically the township can’t stop any annexation.”

Oswalt told trustees that common belief in Licking County is that when a property is annexed from a township to a village or city that the boundaries are reconformed. “Boundaries are never automatically conformed during annexation,” Hart said.

In many cases, reconformation hasn’t occurred. Oswalt wants to have the work done by September.

There are five annexations taking property from Licking Township that don’t have reconformed boundaries. The largest is an 822 acre tract annexed to Heath in 1972. Licking Township hasn’t been collecting any revenue from the area but could press a claim with Heath for a share of back taxes since the boundaries weren’t reconformed.

Heath doesn’t have to worry because Hart said it won’t be right to seek any taxes from that tract since the township hasn’t provided any services to the area.

He asked fellow trustees Ron Acord and Dave Miller if they agreed with his position. They did so the township will waive the right to any back taxes collected on that property.

It’s quite a bit more complicated for a 32.6 acre tract annexed to Heath that has 44 condos. That property is dual taxed and residents get to vote on Heath and Licking Township issues. Licking Township is collecting .7 inside mills for the general fund and two mills for its fire levies. Inside millage isn’t subject to a vote. Hart roughly calculates that residents are paying about $6,000 a year on the township fire levies and another $2,000 a year on the inside millage. Those residents are also paying 2.8 mills to Heath on fire levies. Heath provides most of the service.

Hart doubts any of the residents know they are paying Licking Township fire levies because only the total amount for fire shows up on individual tax bills. He estimates that they are approximately 66 voters or potential voters living there. “If they were knowledgeable, I doubt they would vote for our fire levies,” he added. He questions whether the $6,000 a year revenue is worth the risk of losing a fire levy once resident learn of the double taxation.

Similarly, a 2004 2.8-acre annexation to Heath is generating about $107 per year for the township. A 2006 117-acre annexation to Heath on Lake Drive is currently bringing in just $67 per year because it hasn’t been developed

A 2007 2.2-acre annexation to Buckeye Lake Village for a channel to The Landings at Maple Bay should generate $490 a year for the township if the property owner was paying taxes. The Landings developer is in bankruptcy

.

“I just want you (fellow trustees) to think about the rest of this,” Hart said. “Should we continue to get the two mills when we really don’t provide the services.”

In other business Monday night, two residents asked trustees to move ahead on contracting for an exclusive residential waste hauler. Ed Monroe, representing the Dogwood Lakes Homeowners Association , also raised the issue at trustees’ January 18 meeting.

“I think it is a win situation for everyone,” Monroe told trustees. “Franklin Township is doing it.” He gave trustees some cost information Monday night from Franklin and Union townships.

Acord and Miller, who rebuffed a similar request last year, are now willing to hear more about it.

“I don’t think anyone should force me to go to Big O or Rumpke or whoever,” Miller told Monroe January 18. He wants to hear from more residents.

“We need more input,” Acord added. Miller asked to see the legal side and Hart agreed to check with the prosecutor’s office. He reported his findings Monday night.

The township doesn’t have to legally form a trash district. They simply have to draft a contract proposal and seek bids. One issue is still outstanding though, Hart said. The Harbor Hills Homeowners’ Association currently contracts for refuse pickup on behalf of its residents. While it is clear that the township could move ahead with its contract without Harbor Hills, Hart is waiting for an answer to whether Harbor Hills would have to be part of the township contract when its current contract expires.

Overdrive Road resident Tom Winderle told trustees, “The money savings (from a single hauler) would be a great help to many people.”

Fiscal Officer Jill Linn was absent Monday night, but sent word that no letters of interest had been received for the vacancies – one regular and two alternate positions – on the Board of Zoning Appeals.

In other business January 18, Hart told trustees that they spent more in 2010 than they took in. “We overspent our income by $97,830 last year,” he said. He also noted that the township had a $526,628 carryover from last year not counting the fire fund.

Miller said some $60,000 of that was for pot hole machine that should last for years and save the township money every year. Another $10,000 was for a new lighter weight snow plow that should reduce maintenance expenses on the township’s largest truck. Hart said he wasn’t criticizing any particular purchase, but rather just pointing it out for future reference.

Hart also asked trustees to look over the township website. “We need to make some decision on our website,” he said. It is seriously out-of-date, Hart added. The last calendar is for November 2010. Trustee meeting minutes end in June 2009.

At the January organizational meeting, trustees agreed to push back their meeting time from 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Regular meetings will continue to be held on the first and third Mondays of each month. If a meeting date is a holiday, the meeting will be pushed back one day. Meetings will continue to be held at the Licking Township Fire Company Station No. 3 on Jacksontown Road (Ohio 13).

Hart was reelected president. Miller will continue as vice president. Miller will continue to have primary responsibility for the road department and township roads. Acord will be the coordinator with the fire company.

A change in expense approval levels was made. Departments may make expenditures of up to $500 without trustee involvement. Expenditures of $501 to $2,000 must be approved by one trustee. Anything over $2,000 requires board approval – two trustees.

Trustees next regular meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 22 due to the Presidents Day holiday at the Licking Fire Company Station No. 3 on Jacksontown Road (Ohio 13).

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