Schaffer Announces Operating Budget Amendments to Restore Property Tax Losses in Morgan, Muskingum, and Noble Counties
COLUMBUS—State Senator Tim Schaffer
(R-Lancaster) joined his colleagues in the Ohio Senate today for the passage of Substitute House Bill 110
, which is the Senate’s proposal for Ohio’s FY 2022-2023 operating budget.
Schaffer secured language in the Senate version of the bill that will restore property tax losses seen by the recent AEP ReCreation Land acquisitions in Morgan, Muskingum and Noble counties by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).
“I appreciate the effort by the State of Ohio to preserve this land for generations of Ohioans to come,” Schaffer said. “However, the property tax losses as a result of this massive land purchase are devastating to our local governments, schools and emergency service responders. The language added to the state operating budget is just the cost of doing business that cannot be ignored.”
The language included in Substitute House Bill 110 creates a new formula for payments-in-lieu-of-taxes that will restore property tax losses in areas where the State of Ohio purchases more than 5,000 acres of land, dating back to January 1, 2018. Local elected officials, school officials, and residents have signaled their support for the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes as it goes through the next phases of the state operating budget process.
Muskingum County Commissioner Mollie Crooks commented, "I'm extremely appreciative of Senator Schaffer's persistence and leadership in proposing to compensate the parts of Muskingum County, which will suffer significant losses in tax revenue due to the State purchasing the AEP ReCreation lands. Expansion of State recreation activities should not negatively impact our townships and schools.”
Morgan County Commissioner Adam Shriver added, “I appreciate the work Senator Schaffer and his office have been doing for the residents of Morgan County and all of those affected by the tax loss as the result of the ODRN purchase of AEP recreation land. Morgan Local School District, Morgan County, and all of the political subdivisions funded by the property tax will all be negatively affected moving forward without full tax replacement. This further highlights the inequities rural Ohio continues to face in our state regarding school and local government funding and other public services reliant on tax levies.”
Muskingum County Auditor Debra Nye summarized the property tax losses for the county as, “The acquisition of land from American Electric Power (AEP) to Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) in Muskingum County has resulted in a loss of 156,894,900 in market value across tow taxing districts. The loss of revenue for one year for both taxing districts is estimated at $101,573. Franklin Local School District receives approximately 61% of the tax revenue and has an estimated loss of $122,338 of revenue. Meigs Township and Blue Rock Township, both represented in the acquisition, are looking at a combined loss of revenue in the approximate amount of $20,235.”
Morgan County Local Schools Superintendent Dr. Kristin Barker is supportive of the measures, “We greatly appreciate Senator Schaffer's effort to restore the tax funds our district lost as a result of the AEP/ODNR land sale. Pushing to add this desired amendment to the current state operating budget is a testament to Senator Shaffer's commitment to be a strong and vocal advocate for Morgan County.”
Local Morgan County Resident Kate Dugan shared her concerns as a parent within the affected communities, “As a mother & Morgan County resident it is my responsibility to advocate for my children and the community where they are growing up. The tax loss we have incurred will negatively contribute to our already underserved Appalachian community."
These amendments are a continuation of Schaffer’s work to assist the region after he secured funding for $1 million for local infrastructure and road repairs in the state transportation budget earlier this year as a part of House Bill 74.
Morgan County Engineer Stevan Hook, P.E., P.S. shared his thoughts on the road repair amendment, “The replacement of these lost funds will be greatly appreciated and will be utilized to hasten the repairs, upgrades and replacement of our deteriorating highway and bridge infrastructure. These funds will allow us to proceed at a much faster pace than we otherwise could. We all want to thank our state representative for their tireless efforts in these matters.”
Additionally, Schaffer secured $1 million for the City of Zanesville to fund the road slip repair project for Dug Road.
Schaffer also championed an amendment to the bill that include provisions that will implement anti-fraud and waste measures in the state unemployment compensation and food stamp systems within the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Substitute House Bill 110 now heads to a joint conference committee with the Ohio House of Representatives to review each chamber’s proposal for the state operating budget.