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House Bill 126 needed to stop unnecessary costs for landlords | Columns

If you’re a business owner or owner, chances are that buying that property will be one of your fondest memories. Whether it’s your first home or the location of your body shop or insurance business, the thrill and excitement of owning your property and the optimism you’ve had for creating new memories or building a thriving business is something you may have waited years to experience and look forward to in the years to come.

Now imagine that months or even years later you received a notice from your county auditor that your property taxes were going up. At the top. To make matters worse, you discover that your raises are for years when you didn’t even own your property. How would something like this happen? Because your local school district, perhaps the one your children attend or the one where you vote for ballot levies, is using your tax money to dispute your property value in order to force you to pay more more taxes.

What we have just described is not a hypothetical situation; it is a very real and common occurrence throughout Ohio. We believe this is something future homeowners and job creators should not experience.

Despite the vitriol and misleading claims of Ohio media editors and reporters, legislation recently passed by the Senate will actually limit local government abuses. House Bill 126 will reclaim the tax appeals process for the people it should be available to: taxpayers.

After receiving more than $6 billion in federal funding that includes little oversight, school districts are fighting tooth and nail to be able to continue to abuse options in the current law to extract even more taxpayer money from homeowners. Their aggressive tactics scare away investment in Ohio and can cause homeowners to pay taxes on homes they didn’t even own, and add unnecessary costs to homeownership. It really is that simple.

The current system creates “dark money” collected by districts that is hidden in district line items, out of sight of the school funding system and makes districts appear to collect less tax revenue than what ‘they actually collect so they can get more funding from the state. This extra money comes out of the pockets of homeowners and businesses, and less money goes into growing Ohio’s economy. What is worse is that this practice also takes away funds from other tax authorities like ADAMH, elder services and libraries that do not engage in this abusive practice. House Bill 126 solves this problem by emphasizing taxpayer rights.

Ohio needs to roll back aggressive school districts. School districts need to stay on track and get back to educating kids. Ohio is the only state in the country that allows these aggressive tactics by school districts after the assessment has been set by a county auditor. We should not tolerate, or allow, local government officials to challenge the decisions of other local government officials to obtain additional public funds at the expense of hard-working, retired Ohioans.

We encourage the Ohio House to approve the Senate amendments to HB 126, to protect our state’s taxpayers, and bring Ohio into the mainstream of property tax administration.

Scott Williams is the CEO of Ohio Realtors.

Steve Stivers is President and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.