Unexpected tax hike in one school district could force residents out

Unexpected tax hike in one school district could force residents out
(Source: WTOL)

WHITEHOUSE, OH (WTOL) - New property owners in the Anthony Wayne School District are in shock to find out they could be paying a lot more than they planned on in taxes. The school board held a meeting to review the issue Monday night.

Andrew Teachout and his wife Sheena came to the meeting ready to tell their story, but were denied the chance to speak.

The couple feels as if certain families are being targeted and are left feeling that much of this confusion was intentional. They're already dealing with trouble from their builder and have spoken with neighbors about shared predicaments.

"It's looking at increasing our taxes by over 100 percent in one year, and quite honestly, we've only been here for eight months. It seems like it's a pretty rude, 'welcome to the neighborhood,'" Andrew Teachout said about the tax increase.

This is the first chance the board has had to meet since the news came out that property taxes are going up due to the assessed price of homes in the area being so much lower than selling prices.

No lawyers were present at the meeting to speak, and despite many from the community showing up to voice their opinions, only two homeowners were brought up to voice their opinions.

"We've let them speak, and saw their presence tonight, so now, the board appreciates that, they know it's an issue, and they are going to work towards a resolution," Anthony Wayne School District Treasurer, Kerri Johnson said.

There are 60 plus families who will be susceptible to this hike and are being sued by the district to collect. The money to fund schools in this district comes largely from local property taxes.

Both the school district and taxpayers have reasonable grievances, but regardless of what was said in Monday's meeting, the bills have to be paid.

Eric Schmidt said that had he known about this, he wouldn't have bought his current home.

"This is going to put a financial hardship on me and my family and I think that Anthony Wayne should d rop these charges," Schmidt said.

Taxes are only being contested for homes that sold for 100 thousand dollars or more than what they were previously valued at. Many homeowners, all who are new to their homes in the past year, were not aware that this change could happen, and are now afraid they won't be able to afford their bills.

Sysco Garza is concerned for the sake of his whole family.

"Either something turns out here, or we're going to sell the house back off. Ain't no way anybody can afford it because if you look at it, seven thousand, if I would have bought the house free and clear you're talking 600 dollars a month if you're a retiree, who can afford that, that kind of payment every month,"  Garza said.

Every three years properties are reassessed across Lucas County. The school district's last assessment was following a recession. Since then, the economy has gotten much better and the market in that area has taken off. Prior to the last assessment, the district was operating at a deficit every year, and watching every penny. The county tried to give homeowners a break at the time, but now, for those who bought their homes for more than what they were valued at, it's time to pay up.

Lucas County Auditor, Anita Lopez hopes to find a solution soon.

"I'm hoping that we'll be able to find a reasonable, a mutual agreement amongst all the parties, but at the same time, we really need to protect the citizens who are investing in our community,"  Lopez said.

Following Monday' school board meeting, the district says they will come up with a final decision soon on how best to move forward.

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