Schools get property tax advances

Erin Hopkins

Some Portage County school districts were anticipating today because they can now receive their first property tax advance.

This advance is money given to districts before all property tax bills have been paid and accounted for.

The tax bills, whose revenues are divided among various school districts, departments, townships and cities in the county, were sent last week to property owners, said Steve Shanafelt, Portage County treasurer.

According to Portage County’s Web site, there are 46 taxing districts. A portion of each district’s property tax revenue goes to schools in the area. Because the tax revenue is not only given to school districts, property owners must pay the taxes, even if he or she does not have students that attend school.

Once the paid bills start coming back, Shanafelt and Portage County Auditor Janet Esposito determine how much money has been collected from each school district.

“Seventy-five percent to 80 percent of the money we get from taxes goes to the schools,” Shanafelt said.

The districts then have the opportunity to ask for an advance, which gives them a portion of the revenue early.

“Schools have to send a resolution saying ‘we’d like to draw down our percent (a certain amount) for a certain amount of weeks,'” Esposito said. “Whatever millage the district has is computed, and we show how much (was) collected. Then I send the money.

“I send the same amount of money each week until the close date, which is Feb. 22,” she said.

Shanafelt said 30 days after the close date, he and Esposito will account for all of the paid taxes. Each must calculate the same amount of money, to the penny.

After that, Esposito subtracts the advance and sends the remainder of the district’s money.

Thomas Baker, treasurer of Field Local Schools, said local revenue is a large part of his district’s budget.

“Property taxes are 50 percent of the entire budget,” Baker said. “State revenue accounts for six percent, federal is 44 percent.”

The taxes pay for the funding of school operations, and Baker said operations is a broad term.

“It would be everything from salaries, benefits and utilities. It would be for fuel purchases for the buses, or textbooks and computer equipment,” he said.

Baker said he will definitely be taking his advance and believes the majority of districts will take theirs as well.

“I’d take anything I can get, because I invest my school monies daily to get interest,” Baker said.

For more information on property taxes and the county auditor and treasurer, visit the Portage County Web site at www.co.portage.oh.us.

Contact public affairs reporter Erin Hopkins at [email protected]