The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

For some insight into how the area’s housing market is faring Jeff Carpenter need look no further than the local property tax receipts for the Lake Local School District.

It’s not a pretty picture: In fiscal year 2008, which began July 1, 2007, the district received about $6.2 million – roughly $685,000 more than the year before. But by fiscal year 2009 a drop in local tax revenue had begun and by the end of the year the district received only $6.04 million.

In the first half of fiscal year 2010, the district is $16,372 below where it was in 2009 in local revenues.

“The county auditor is telling us that property tax delinquencies among homeowners are three times higher than normal,” Carpenter, the school district’s treasurer, said last week. “It’s been showing up in our revenues and I’m sure other districts are seeing the same thing.”

The district’s earnings on invested funds have also been dwindling.

In 2008, Lake’s investments earned $229,493 when interest rates were in the range of 5 to 5.5 percent. In 2009, the district earned $123,833 as rates slid to between 2 and 3 percent. In the first half of 2010, Carpenter is projecting the district will earn less than $9,000 on investments receiving on average less than .02 percent.

Jerusalem Township trustees want former Trustee Rodney Graffis to reimburse the township $20,174.04 that an audit in 2007 showed he had improperly received for health insurance coverage.

Trustee Joe Kiss said trustees plan to hire an attorney to seek recovery.

Trustees will begin interviewing candidates for legal counsel, he added.

Jerusalem Township reimburses township trustees for the out-of-pocket cost of health insurance premiums if they are denied or opt out of coverage from their primary employer. But a 2007 state audit showed that Graffis, who was defeated for re-election last November, was already getting health insurance coverage through his union.

Kiss had expected the Lucas County prosecutor’s office, which is the township’s attorney, would seek recovery from Graffis. But just five months after the audit’s finding, the prosecutor’s office said the Legislature had passed a bill that released Graffis, and other officials in Ohio with similar findings, from having to pay back the money.

House Bill 458 prohibited both the attorney general and county prosecutor from enforcing the state auditor’s findings for recovery.

The Genoa school board has approved a resolution to place a 1 percent income tax request on the May ballot.

Superintendent Dennis Mock said the district will face a deficit of about $1 million by June 30, 2012 if revenues don’t increase or expenditures aren’t reduced.

A 1 percent income tax would only be levied on earned income and not on pensions, interest or dividends, Social Security or disability benefits, or child support payments.

Mock said the income tax would roughly approximate 5.3 mills in property taxes in revenues.

Board members plan to use their next meeting to come up with a strategy for not seeking the renewal of some existing millage on residents’ tax bills.

“We are discussing some directions we can take,” Mock said. “We want to look at property taxes and see if we can let them expire.

The administration informed board members during last week’s meeting that the district has cut about $1.8 million – equal to about 11 mills in property taxes – from the operating budget since 2004.

Dave Zenk, superintendent in charge of maintenance for the Metroparks of the Toledo Area's operations division, says Oregon’s Pearson Park is in for a $498,396 capital improvement renovation slated to begin in 2010.

The projects will affect the original Pearson and the new 300-acre Pearson North expansion. Six more contracts will be bid over the next six years totaling another $100,000, Zenk said.

A one and three-quarter mile hiking and biking trail will be constructed in Pearson North that will travel alongside the 3,000 foot long Heckman Creek. The trail is designed to be positioned on the outside looking in towards the park, and is expected to be completed this year.

The trail is being funded by a $270,000 Clean Ohio Grant through the state’s Department of Natural Resources, with about $68,000 in funds being matched by the Metroparks. Zenk said bids coming in for the trail’s construction are one-third less than the original estimates.

Zenk added the Metroparks has just finished a two-year physical assessment study of its capital assets in the original parts of Pearson.

Oregon city council on Monday will vote to accept the final tap-in charges for the installation of a sanitary sewer that will serve several parcels in the area of Lallendorf Road and Cedar Point Development Park.

“Along the way, it serves 11 properties,” said Finance Director Kathy Hufford at a Committee of the Whole meeting last Monday. “There is no requirement for property owners to tap in. But when they need to tap in due to septic failure, or they just want to tap in, the fee they have to pay is listed in the ordinance.”

Those fees range from a low of $5,957.39 to a high of $61,368.28.

Councilman Jerry Peach said the project “is of great benefit to property owners.”

“There’s not an obligation to tap in, and the system is there when needed,” said Peach.

Mayor Mike Seferian said the “cash to tap” process is more economical compared to residents petitioning for sanitary sewers.

“This cash to tap eliminates a couple procedures. It would likely be a little more costly if it had been a petitioned project. So it’s probably one of the more economical ways to achieve sanitary sewer and does have the other benefit of paying as you choose to use it,” said Seferian.

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