Residents in the Olentangy Local School District (OLSD) will get some relief on their taxes next year as the Olentangy Schools Board of Education voted to approve a resolution directing Delaware County Auditor George Kaitsa to reduce the current debt service levy by 10% from 7.5 mills to 6.75 mills.
The new rate will go into effect for the 2023 tax year, which will be collected in 2024.
Speaking to the board during Thursday’s meeting, OLSD Treasurer Ryan Jenkins said the resolution comes as the result of rising property valuations and the tax collections exceeding the district’s necessary debt service.
“The backstory is that for calendar year 2022, the total valuation in our district was just a shade under $5.1 billion,” Jenkins told the board. “That is the assessed value, and with a tax rate of 7.5 mills, we collected around $38.7 million to pay our required debt service. In 2023, one of the hot topics is what’s going to end up happening with valuation increases.
“I have a range of between 22-30% because we still don’t know exactly where House Bill 187 is going to land. If we were done right now, as we normally are in most years, we do know that increase is right at 30%. However, there is a bill that is currently through the House, and it’s waiting for committee assignment in the Senate. What that bill would do would be to smooth and use a three-year average for valuations. That’s why we have that 22%. We’ve kind of done some analysis and think that even if there was a three-year smoothing, we’re still going to be close to the 22% increase in valuation.”
Jenkins said a common question is already beginning to emerge in the district as to why OLSD would voluntarily opt to reject revenue. However, he noted the debt service funds can’t be used for other purposes within the district, leaving the excess money obsolete.
“The money must be used for the purpose the levy was passed,” Jenkins said. “If we are assessing 7.5 mills for debt service collection, that is the only thing those 7.5 mills can be used for. We could not turn around and say, ‘Well, we have too much in debt service collections, so let’s go ahead and pay some operating costs.’ Because of that, we’re in a position where having 7.5 mills would lead to collections that are ultimately too much for what we need to pay debt. We want to ask for what we need, and we really strive to ask for no more.”
Board member Brandon Lester applauded the efforts of Jenkins and his team to ensure the district isn’t taking any more money than it needs.
“Ultimately, what this shows is we are trying to be the best stewards we can be of community funds, and we’re doing it not just in making sure all the numbers are the right numbers but also thinking proactively about it to try and do it in the most effective way we can,” he said.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.