Chesapeake, Fairland taxpayers will receive property tax break

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 23, 2003

Thanks to an increase in population and property value, taxpayers in the Chesapeake and Fairland school districts will get a break on their next tax bill.

Monday, the Lawrence County Budget Commission agreed to lower property taxes in the two districts for tax year 2003, which will be paid in 2004.

Because of the population growth and increase in overall property values, the same amount from bond levies passed in 1985 in the Chesapeake district and in 1998 in Fairland can be collected while still reducing the burden on individual taxpayers, said Chris Kline, chief deputy auditor for the Lawrence County Auditor's Office.

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The Lawrence County Budget Commission is comprised of Ray Dutey, county auditor, Kenneth Howell, county treasurer and J.B. Collier Jr., county prosecutor.

The millage rate in the Chesapeake district will be reduced from 3.25 mils to 1.5 mils, and from 3.52 mils to 2.38 mils in the Fairland district. One mil amounts to property owners being charged $1 for each $1,000 of assessed property valuation, and in Ohio, taxes are paid at a rate of 35 percent of their true market value.

Currently, the assessed property values in the Chesapeake district is $78,958,880, an increase of $36,077,450 since 1985, Kline said. In the Fairland district, the assessed property values in the district is $124,491,480, an increase of $15,823,860 since 1998.

School officials in both districts were pleased that their taxpayers would have less of a burden.

When Chesapeake school district voters passed the bond levy to build the new middle and elementary schools in 1998, they already had two bond levies to pay off, said board member Carl B. Lilly Jr.

"That was a big reason why it was so hard to pass. It failed the first time." he said regarding the 1998 levy. "This is good news, and I'm excited for taxpayers. They can now see the new middle school, and we should be pouring the footer on the new elementary school in September."

"When our bond levy was passed in 1998, we assured voters we would utilize it wisely," said Fairland Superintendent Jerry McConnell. "We only asked for the amount necessary to pay it off."

The bond levy passed in 1998 was a $31 million project which included a new $13 million high school and renovations to the three older buildings in the district.

When the high school was completed, district officials decided to not destroy any old buildings and to put them to use. The former high school is now

the middle school. The old middle school houses elementary students in grades 3-5, and Fairland East Elementary houses students in kindergarten through the second grade.

"The construction project is even better than what we anticipated," McConnell said. "Our new buildings have allowed us to add to the curriculum and provide a safe and pleasant environment for our students.

"We appreciate the community passing the levy, and we're happy to see that five years later, we've seen a decrease in the millage rate for taxpayers."