How high is the highestWritten by Lisa Renee Ward | | firstname.lastname@example.org
At the “Art of Politics” debate held on Oct. 26 it was stated that Lucas County residents pay some of the highest property taxes in the State and our high utility rates were referenced. Is that factual?
Republican Lucas County Auditor candidate Gina Marie Kaczala said, “Today the State of Ohio issued a report that shows as of today, Lucas County property owners are paying some of the highest property taxes in the State of Ohio.”
In searching for the report there was nothing issued on Oct. 26 from the Ohio Department of Taxation or anything released in the month of October that indicates this.
John Kohlstrand is a media relations representative for the Ohio Department of Taxation. When contacted and asked about the statement that Kaczala made, Kohlstrand said, “that claim is not familiar to me.”
Kohlstrand said there was a report released in September “The Impact of the Great Recession on the Ohio Residential Housing Market” but it focused on property values.
Kohlstrand suggested looking at a report released on Jan. 6 that they call a “PR6″ would be the best data set to use for comparison. Kohlstrand said, “The net rate would be the most effective one to look at for your purposes.”
The Jan. 6 report stated as part of it’s introduction, “Cuyahoga County had the highest property tax rates throughout the state. Lawrence County had the lowest gross real property tax rates and the lowest tangible personal property tax rate while Wyandot County had the lowest net real property tax rates in the state.”
Using the net rate figure, Lucas County was below Summit, Greene, Franklin, Montgomery and Cuyahoga Counties.
Tom Morgan of the Kaczala campaign told the Toledo Free Press they were citing numbers from the September “The Impact of the Great Recession.” In using “Median to Market Price ratio (MMPR),” he stated in an email, “No other county had over 100 for more than 1 year.”
Lucas County had the highest MMPR for sales made in the first and second half of 2008, but did not for the first or second half residential sales for 2009. Cuyahoga County also had an MMPR of over 100% for more than a year.
Kohlstrand said that the MMPR was not designed to measure property taxes; it is a measurement of the accuracy of the tax values.
We’ve heard for years that Northwestern Ohio has the highest utility rates in the State. Toledo City Councilman and Lucas County Commissioner candidate George Sarantou said during the debate, “I am the one that stood up to Toledo Edison, I am the one who stood up to Columbia Gas and said our high utility rates must stop. I am the one that went to Columbus to testify before the House of Representatives Energy Committee to talk about why Northwest Ohio has some of the highest utility rates.”
Sarantou was accurate as far as his focus on high utility rates. However, the Public Utility Commission puts out a monthly report that compares the residential rates for Ohio’s 16 major cities. If we use the month of October as an example, from 2005 to 2010, Toledo has never had the highest electric rates for the State of Ohio.
In 2005, the average monthly electrical bill reported for October for Toledo was $83.42. Akron, Youngstown, Lorain, Marion, Mansfield were higher with an average of $85.78.
For the most recent report for October 2010, the average residential electrical bill in Toledo was $90.89. Ashtabula and Cleveland reported an average of $94.85; Columbus, Marietta, Chillicothe were $96.52 and Cincinnati was $105.28.
When it comes to gas bills, the average residential gas bill for Toledo in October 2005 was $163.02. Zanesville, Columbus, Chillicothe, Lorain, Marion and Mansfield had the same monthly average bill. From 2006 to 2008 the amount the of the average October residential bill for Toledo was the same as those cities.
In 2009 the average October residential gas bill in Toledo was $82.91. Canton, Lima, Youngstown, Ashtabula and Cleveland’s average was $90.67; Dayton $92.75, with Cincinnati at $95.46.
October 2010′s average residential gas bill for Toledo was $90.95. Canton, Akron, Youngstown, Lima, Ashtabula and Marietta’s average were $96.82 and Cincinnati was $106.75.
In looking at the average residential utility bills from 2005 to 2008 for September, August and July, while the dollar amounts fluctuated, there was not a time when the Toledo area had the highest average residential electric bill, nor was there a time when Northwestern Ohio held the solo ranking for the highest average gas bill.
While the myth of our area having the highest utility rates may be hard to eliminate, information on the property tax rates and the utility rates in Ohio are out there. It’s up to us as citizens of this area to take the time to be informed and not believe everything we are told. No matter how many times it’s repeated.