Property taxes rise because of new levies

By Peter H. Milliken


The increases Mahoning County residents see in their first-half real-estate tax bills this year are due largely to newly voted tax increases.

They have nothing to do with the mass reappraisal of county real estate now being completed, said county Treasurer Lisa A. Antonini.

Increases from new levies voters approved last May and November are being seen for the first time in the current first-half tax bills, said Cheri Donofrio, director of taxation at the county auditor’s office.

It also is possible that taxes could have increased on a property because of an addition or new construction, Donofrio said.

First-half real-estate tax bills were mailed earlier this month by Antonini’s office to owners of some 166,000 parcels of Mahoning County real estate. March 4 is the deadline to pay without penalty.

One of the biggest contributors to increased tax bills is the 1.8-mill countywide operating levy for the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, which voters approved Nov. 2, Antonini said.

That five-year levy, which will generate about $7.2 million a year for the 16-branch library system, adds $54 a year ($27 a half) to the real-estate tax bill for the owner of a $100,000 home.

Library patrons, however, will soon see results from the new levy as the new money begins to flow to the library system. Library officials recently announced they’ll restore in April the cuts in library hours they imposed in 2009.

Another notable levy passed last year was a 2.4-mill, 37-year school building improvement bond issue, together with a half-mill additional 23-year school levy approved May 4 in Austintown.

Also last May, Berlin Township voters approved a 2-mill, five-year additional fire levy, the county auditor’s office noted. That levy passed by one vote, 214-213, a recount determined. It will raise $87,535 annually toward purchase of a new pumper truck.

On Nov. 2, Campbell voters approved a 3.5-mill, five-year additional current expense levy to raise $277,279 annually for their city, which has been in fiscal emergency since 2004.

City Finance Director Sherman Miles said the city wants to seek release from fiscal emergency by the end of this year.

The reappraisal of all county real estate, which occurs every six years, will conclude this year, and any changes in taxes stemming from the reappraisal will be seen in next year’s first-half real-estate tax bills, Donofrio said.

“This time next year, we’ll be dealing with the value issue,” as it affects real-estate tax bills, Antonini said.

When the reappraisal is complete, but before final property values are set, county Auditor Michael V. Sciortino said representatives of his office will be at Southern Park Mall for informal individual consultations with taxpayers concerning the effect of the reappraisal on their property values.

There, the auditor’s staff will discuss reasons for valuation changes and correct any errors in the property description.

Donofrio said she expects tentative new property values for all parcels will be made public in September, with the values becoming final in December.

Taxpayers who disagree with conclusions from the reassessment of their properties may appeal to the county’s Board of Revision between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2012.

That board consists of the county auditor and treasurer and a county commissioner or a representative of the commissioners.

Appeal forms will be available at the auditor’s office.

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