Forest Hills residents recently received a letter from the county auditor with information regarding property reappraisal which is performed every 3 years, along with many new/renewed levies (Cincinnati Zoo and Anderson Township Park District among them), along with the new payments covering operating and permanent improvement levy.
It is our understanding that most homeowners will see an increase in the value of their home. The average increase is around 26%, and based on our research into the Hamilton County Auditor’s website, it appears that some properties saw a single-digit decrease, while several homes saw 50% increase or more, with one property on Salem Rd increasing by 80%.
Fortunately, FHSD residents have a unique and qualified resource to help taxpayers understand this complicated system.
Our district treasurer Alana Cropper previewed this information at the board budget and organizational meeting on Jan. 4, 2024. During this meeting, Cropper communicated that she hopes residents will listen to the first regular board meeting scheduled for January 17th, where she will present a detailed explanation of how Ohio funding works, and why FHSD (like all Ohio districts) does not see a financial gain when property values are escalated as is widely believed, but demonstrably false.
Due to the rules outlined in Ohio House Bill 920 (which was ruled unconstitutional decades ago, but still remains in place), any increase in property values does not bring an accompanying increase in tax collection by Forest Hills (or any other school district in Ohio). (We’ve covered HB 920 in other articles. For added transparency and to avoid any accusations of bias - we’ve sourced another Ohio district’s summary which outlined the bill’s impact with clarity, here. )
At the first regular board meeting scheduled for January 17th, Cropper will present a detailed explanation of how Ohio funding works, and why FHSD (like all Ohio districts) does not see a financial gain when property values are escalated.
School funding is complex in a normal year, but with the confluence of legislative requirements, funding of the homestead tax exemption from the state and inflationary pressures on housing, we begin 2024 with a possible shock to the wallet and list of questions for the treasurer.
If you are intrigued, incensed or otherwise interested in details, consider attending the upcoming board meeting, where the district treasurer will give a thorough explanation of the process and its impacts on our district budget. Cropper has built a 40-year history of competence and trust among the community here where she is also a resident.
District leadership hired Cropper six years ago after a tumultuous period in the treasurer’s office unrelated to finances. In order to restore trust in the community, the district sought out one of the best-performing licensed treasurers in the Ohio school financing. FHSD has won a State Audit award every year since then. (See Enquirer article covering details, here.)
Cropper brings 40+ years of financial experience including years at Ernst and Young. holds a public treasurer’s license, which requires significant training to meet Ohio standards. Cropper is one of the most sought-after treasurers in Ohio.
Ms Cropper also has years of public school district experience, as she worked in both Winton Woods and West Clermont districts, in addition to holding a CPA from University of Kentucky, and an MBA from Xavier University. She has been an honest and transparent resource within the district since she took the role in 2018, and her experience and training are invaluable for understanding school finance.
Ms. Cropper displays a commitment to educating the community about the nuances of district finances in each and every treasurer’s report, and, more recently in efforts to explain the details of the levy to residents. This last year, Ms Cropper attended more than 30 public and private meetings to engage and educate voters. By doing so, she demonstrated a commitment to honesty, transparency and a focus on educating residents of the details surrounding the Ohio financial system to answer voters' questions with fact-based responses. Forest Hills voters widely supported the levy, passing the initiative by 53% to 47%
FHSD’s operations/funding are also supported by grants from federal and state coffers, which the treasurer’s team excels in identifying and securing. Under Cropper, Forest Hills has applied for and received millions of dollars in grants from the Federal and State governments that offset or supplement donations and taxpayer-provided revenue.
In November two candidates for school board, Ken Kuhn and Kevin Comerford, proposed that the district needed more financial oversight. Voters rejected that hypothesis, and determined that other issues were more important. Both lost by 14 points in an election that saw nearly double the voter turnout of the previous school board election in 2021.
We hope to see you watching online or at the meeting on January 17th to hear her detailed summary of the changes the community sees and the impact on district revenue.
The views and opinions expressed by individuals and entities on this blog are their own and do not reflect the views or positions of AdvocateFHSD.org.
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