The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

April 25, 2014

Ashtabula County land bank looks at possible funding sources

JEFFERSON — The Ashtabula County Land Reutilization Corporation (land bank) is looking at potential funding sources and one option could cause a financial hit to area school districts.

Ashtabula County Treasurer Dawn Cragon, who serves as president of the land bank board, is suggesting increasing the county’s delinquent tax and assessment collection (DETAC) by 5 percent to fund the land bank.

The county’s DETAC is set at 5 percent. The increase would put it at 10 percent.

Last year, the county collected about $725,000 in penalties from taxpayers. Five percent of every dollar collected, between the county treasurer and the county prosecutor is paid into the DETAC. So last year, about $283,000 was paid into DETAC, Cragon said.

Of that $725,000 collected last year, $441,000 was paid across all the subdivisions within the county, including area school districts.

Based on last years numbers, if the DETAC is increased to 10 percent, the subdivisions would be losing about $283,000, Cragon said.

Another funding mechanism Cragon is suggesting is to increase the interest collected on delinquent taxes. The county currently collects the state average which is 3 percent. Under the Ohio Revised Code, the county treasurer has the right to increase that interest rate up to 12 percent, she said.

Cragon suggests increasing the interest rate to 12 percent, not to fund the land bank, but to be paid to the subdivisions to soften the financial loss they will realize if the DETAC is increased.

Cragon said it may also give people more incentive to pay their delinquent taxes. Residents with taxes delinquent more than one year would be charged the 12 percent interest rate.

Ashtabula County Commissioner Peggy Carlo said the board needs to make a decision soon because the land bank can’t operate without revenue.

“We’re not going to be able to have this land bank if we don’t have some revenue,” she said. “We need to figure out what we are going to do and do it.”

Carlo said if the board decides to increase the DETAC, they will set up meetings with the school districts to discuss the increase.

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