I thank Preble County Auditor Lavon Wright for her explanation of the structure of our county property taxes as reported by Eddie Mowen in the Aug. 26 issue of The Register-Herald. I may have missed it in the past but I do not remember any former auditor explaining the tax structure to this degree. If I am in error, I apologize to the former auditors.
I checked my property taxes for 2004 and compared them to 2019, before the housing market and inflation went crazy. My property taxes during that time increased 80 percent while the cost of living increased 38 percent. One must ask why property taxes increased so much more than the rate of inflation, especially when it seems that very few tax proposals are an increase but simply a renewal.
I have queried our auditors back to Hal Yoder, and consistently been told that property reevaluations do not increase the taxes one pays. Well, what they mean is that it does not immediately increase one’s property taxes on levies that are already in effect. However, what they don’t tell you is that when you vote on a simple renewal tax, you are then taxed on the new property value which thereby changes what you pay in proportion to your new appraised value.
In reality, I am embarrassed that I was not aware of the hidden property taxes we pay, “hidden” by the fact that we do not get to vote on them or see them spelled out on our tax forms. Once again, I appreciate Ms. Wright disclosing these hidden taxes. To quote Ms. Wright according to Mr. Mowen’s article, “Real estate tax bills contain two components, referred to as inside millage and outside millage, or sometimes unvoted and voted millage.” In the article, Ms. Wright addresses other hidden taxes such as the “20-mil floor rule for school funding” established by the state in 1972. It seems we fought a war a little over 200 years ago opposing “taxation without representation.”
I once again thank County Auditor Lavon Wright for so openly explaining these taxes along with the pending substantial home reevaluations. As such, however, it seems to me that our only recourse at this time is to vote against all property taxes over which we do have the opportunity to vote, until such time as we regain the right to vote on all property taxes and thus regain our freedom to determine our own destiny — at least with respect to local taxes.
Donald R. (Don) Shrader