Sunday, December 9, 2007

Wrong Some More: Current Millage Rates

I know this will seem like 'piling on' but I just found another error in the Nov 28 cover page story "School Board Votes to put 9.5 mill levy on March ballot," published in the Hilliard Northwest News.

The second paragraph reads: "If adopted it [the levy] would add an extra $291 per $100,000 of property value to the 14 mills, or $1,290 per $100,000 owners currently pay annually.

The correct number for the effective millage is about 37 mills, according to a sample of properties I researched on the website of the Franklin County Auditor. All the other dollar amounts were recorded accurately.

Here's some other facts about your current property taxes that might be helpful as true to measure the impact of this levy on your own taxes:

  • Homeowners in the school district pay a variety of different property taxes depending on the municipality in which your home sits. My family lives in Brown Twp, so our total property tax bill is 2.04% of the market value of our house. If you live in the City of Columbus, your total property taxes are about 1.86% of the market value of your home. Homeowners in the City of Hilliard pay about 2.14%.


    One example is that folks who live in the City of Columbus may pay a different amount for their fire/safety services, which are both provided by the City of Columbus, than those of us in the Brown Twp, which contracts with Norwich Twp for fire service and the Sheriff's department for police services.
  • But regardless of the municipality in which we live, we all pay the same millage for our school taxes. Right now that ends up being about 1.3% of the market value.
  • If it passes, the 9.5 mill levy being proposed will increase the school component of your property taxes by 23%, and your overall property tax bill by about 14%.
  • Remember that we get to soften the impact of this through deductions on our Federal Income Tax returns, assuming that nearly all homeowners itemize their deductions on Schedule A. So let's say that your home has a $200,000 market value, and you are in the 25% federal income tax bracket. The levy would increase your annual property taxes by about $600, but by deducting that $600 from your taxable income, the federal income tax you owe would decrease by 25% of the $600, or $150. The effect is as though the levy cost you $450/yr. This makes the overall increase in your property taxes due to the 9.5 mill levy more like 10.7%.

    In rereading this post, I realized that I'm guilty of some bad math too. My analysis compared the post-tax cost of the increase to the pre-tax cost of the base property tax. So let's use real numbers:

    The current component of my property tax bill for school taxes is $4,566.71 per year. The County Auditor has calculated what the cost/mill/yr is for each property in the county, and this number is available on the Auditor's website. For mine it is $108.48/mill/yr. Therefore, a 9.5 levy would add $1,030.56 to my annual tax bill, which is a 22.6% increase. Adjusted for taxes, it's still 22.6%.

    Sorry for the confusion. June 23, 2008

The worst thing people can do right now is make up their minds about the levy without making the effort to understand the facts. It's a shame neither the local papers nor the district leadership are much of a help, and it's worse when the information is wrong.

I will continue look for inaccuracies and report them via this blog. You also invited to go to my companion website and sign up for the electronic newsletter. There's no charge - it's just another way to get information to you.


  1. Let me begin by writing that I think your blog is very interesting and balanced. In regards to mill rates, have you come across any sources that compare school mill rates of Columbus suburbs. I am curious of how the tax rate (school portion)in Hilliard compares to other high growth areas- like Olentangy& Pickerington, and also to more landlocked areas like Gahanna & UA. Thanks for the site.

  2. Thanks for the feedback. Hope you'll consider signing up for my e-newsletter as well. There's a signup box at the bottom of the opening page of my website - The e-newsletter is a monthly summary of the most important issues of the moment, while the blog contains deeper analysis (and the website more of the research).

    To answer your question, the Columbus Dispatch has occasionally published charts showing local school millage rates across central Ohio. You can also check the Franklin Country Auditor's website to find what property taxes look like around the county. Here's what I found out about a few - all of these are the total annual property tax (which includes more than just school taxes) paid per $100,000 of property valuation:

    UA: $1,897
    Gahanna: $1,920
    Dublin: $2,042
    Hilliard: $2,076
    Bexley: $2,013
    New Albany: $2,309

    Again, this is more than school tax, and in many cases the property tax includes the cost of fire safety services provided though a township (which is the case in Hilliard and Dublin).

    I'll look for something more precise.