Perrysburg Schools property owners were overcharged about $2 million last year after the Wood County auditor’s office miscalculated a levy. And even after the mistake was discovered, the auditor’s office initially said it was too late to correct it this year, meaning taxpayers were expected to overpay again in 2018.
The mistake happened after voters renewed a Perrysburg Schools levy in 2016. The fixed-sum levy called for the auditor to collect $13 million a year. But instead of recalculating the millage that would be necessary to bring in only $13 million — accounting for an increased overall valuation of property in the district thanks to growth and rising property values — the auditor’s office continued to use the previous year’s millage.
Rather than bringing in $13 million, the levy brought in nearly $15 million.
But the problem got worse from there.
First, Auditor Matthew Oestreich’s office said that instead of getting a refund, property owners would instead get a break on future tax bills. And second, his office said it was too late to change the property tax bills going out for 2018. That meant property owners would overpay in 2017 and 2018 in exchange for tax breaks in 2019 and 2020.
Bowing to public outcry, Mr. Oestreich wisely revised his plan, seeking permission from the state to instead fix this year’s tax bills and begin issuing refund checks to property owners.
Mr. Oestreich, the office’s former chief deputy, was appointed county auditor when former auditor Mike Sibbersen retired in September, 2017. Mr. Oestreich is running for his own full term as auditor in this year’s election.
Calculating the tax millage and correctly collecting the taxes is the main responsibility of the auditor’s office. Mr. Oestreich has apologized and said he will take steps to ensure such a miscalculation does not happen in the future.
Taxpayers deserve to see the specifics of the reforms Mr. Oestreich plans for the auditor’s office to make sure such mistakes do not reoccur. And they deserved a much quicker and more responsible response when this mistake was discovered.
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