Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Butler County Auditor's Office on Miami Conservancy

Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds
HAMILTON, Ohio – When Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds took office in early 2008, he believed strongly that more stringent internal controls were needed in county government. That belief has again benefited county taxpayers.

For the first time in over 30 years, Butler County tax bills will not include a tax for the Miami Conservancy levy. Following an internal review of the validity of the Miami Conservancy levy placed on Butler County tax bills, Reynolds sought an opinion from the Ohio Department of Tax Equalization.

The internal review found that a levy that has been listed as a “voted” levy was, in fact, never voted on by county residents. A state statute, passed in 1914, allows for the collection of taxes for a Conservancy District, but not to exceed a 10 mill limitation. Anything above 10 mills can only be applied with voter approval, which apparently never occurred. This error allowed Butler County to collect an additional $252,793.74 above the 10-mill limitation in 2009 alone.

The Auditor’s review found that this error, going back to at least 1976, has generated over $4 million in unauthorized taxes. The levy has always been listed on the State abstract reports as “voted”, and has been overlooked until Auditor Roger Reynolds’ office began questioning how the tax was levied.

This is the second time Reynolds’ office has caught such an error. In 2010, the Auditor’s Office announced that a $1.46 assessment for the Conservancy District was being improperly collected from every parcel in Butler County. The County Prosecutor concurred with the Auditor, and Butler County citizens collectively saved over $200,000 in assessments last year as a result of that finding. By removing the erroneous tax, property owners county-wide will realize additional savings on their tax bills – more than $250,000 per year in total.

“I am proud of my office for this discovery, and for instituting our plan for stronger internal controls on behalf of the citizens of Butler County,” Reynolds said. “We have now discovered almost a half million dollars in improper collections just through the Conservancy District. Our role as government leaders must be to protect taxpayers’ money, and to safeguard against waste and error.”