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Lawrence County tax bills didn't include levy

Apr. 11, 2013 @ 11:33 PM

IRONTON -- The half-mill levy for improvements at Collins Career Center that voters approved last year wasn't included on tax bills mailed out earlier this year. Now taxpayers will have to pay the tax when second-half tax bills are mailed in late May or early June.

Lawrence County voters approved the half-mill property tax levy a year ago which will generate an estimated $400,000 per year to help fund the $25 million additional and renovation projects under construction at the vocational school at Getaway. The vote narrowly passed by 31 votes out of the nearly 10,000 cast in March 2012.

"There were cracks in the process," said County Auditor Jason Stephens. "We're taking steps to see it doesn't happen again. All the taxing entities will be made whole, and the taxpayers will be charged the full amount the voters approved."

Second-half tax bills that will be due July 19 will include the full half-mill levy when the bills are mailed out, said County Treasurer Steve Burcham. He estimated that about 12 percent of county taxpayers paid both first and second half taxes earlier this year. Now those taxpayers, along with those who owe second half taxes, will see the joint vocational school levy reflected on the bills.

A property owner with a home valued at $100,000 will have to pay $15.31 to meet the tax burden, said Chris Kline, deputy county auditor.

"As treasurer, I have no control over tax rate amounts or valuations," Burcham said. "My job is to collect taxes assessed by the auditor. I was surprised to learn that the auditor's office failed to place the tax rates resulting from the recent joint vocation school levy on the tax bills."

"I will work with people on a case-by-case basis if this causes undue hardship," Burcham said.

"I hate that a mistake was made, but it's not our fault," said Steve Dodgion, Collins Career Center superintendent. "They'll get us our money. They're going to make it right and make us whole."

The construction project is about a month-and-a-half behind schedule due to weather and soil problems, Dodgion said. The second phase of the project is set to begin next month. It is scheduled be completed by the summer of 2014. The project started about a year ago.

The levy apparently wasn't included on a list sent to the Ohio Department of Taxation, Kline said.

Kathy Overbeck, director of the Lawrence County Board of Elections, said letters were mailed to the school district, the auditor's office and the state tax board a year ago.

Stephens said his office didn't receive a certified copy of the election results.

Overbeck said future certifications will be mailed out via certified mail.

"We're putting in place procedures to ensure it doesn't happen again," Stephens said.

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