Tax Levy Review Committee
The Board of County Commissioners controls eight voted levies that presently appear on the tax bill for Hamilton County property owners aggregating one of the highest property tax rates in Ohio. It is the policy of the Hamilton County Commission to create a balance between the needs for funding by various levy agencies on the one hand and the tax burden on the home and business owners on the other hand.
The Hamilton County Commission intends to make Hamilton County more competitive with other counties in the rate of taxation and to assure the right balance between the public need for services and the ability of the public to bear the burden of property taxes using several policies and practices:
- In its review of the various tax levies, the Tax Levy Review Committee shall seek savings where possible, and shall endeavor to maintain constant the total dollars collected from such levies. In no event should recommended increases in voted levy taxation exceed the rate of inflation for each replacement or renewal levy since it was last enacted. In calculating the number the initial year of the levy's previous term shall be used as a base year, and inflation shall be defined as the Cincinnati-Hamilton County Rate published by the Bureau of Labor statistics. A total of five years of inflation shall be calculated. If the Bureau of Labor statistics data is not available for a period, the inflation rate utilized by Hamilton County for budget purposes should be used.
- To have each levy-funded agency undergo an outside review of their spending by a consultant before approval for the ballot. Said consultant may either be engaged to work in conjunction with the TLRC or shall be deemed by the TLRC to be independent and sufficient for this purpose.
- Upon appearance on the ballot, each funded agency will contractually agree (i) that disbursement of levy proceeds is conditioned upon such agency entering into an additional contract with the Commission and that it will have no entitlement to dollars unless such contract is entered into and (ii) that no funds from the agency and no agency resources may be used to advance the passage of the tax levy in any way that results in levy proceeds directly or indirectly being used for the passage of said levy including being used as collateral for advances or loans, and/or by supplanting other agency dollars that have been diverted for use for the passage of such levy. This section shall not be read to prohibit any member of such agency from working on behalf of, or from speaking out in favor of, the passage of such levy.
- To enter into contracts with each funded agency funded with levy dollars to assure that the agencies are operating efficiently and in accordance with priorities established by the Commission.
- To conduct mid-term reviews of the various levy agencies to assure that budget targets and contract requirements are met.
- For purposes of benchmarking and accountability to review similar activity and/or services in Ohio's other 87 counties to assure that efficiencies are provided and that performance meets or exceeds standards provided, however, that the lack of a similar service or levy in other Ohio Counties shall not be deemed as prima facie evidence by the Committee that such tax levy or services are not needed, nor appropriate.
Prior to the placement of each levy on the ballot, and within the context of the levy taxation policy, The Tax Levy Review Committee is to thoroughly study each levy request and advise the Commission on (i) whether such levy should appear on the ballot, and (ii) the appropriate level of revenue to be generated by taxation for each levy, and (iii) the appropriate duration for each such levy, and (iv) terms and conditions that should be inserted into each contract.
See Attachment A for a schedule for such reviews.
The scope of the Tax Levy Review Committee's work should include the following:
- To establish priorities between competing levy proposals each year to assure compliance with the tax levy taxation policy of the Commission as set forth above; and
- To develop jointly with Commission staff the scope of work to be conducted by the outside review consultant, to oversee the work of such consultant and to receive the report of such consultant; and
- To ascertain whether a special levy on the property tax bills of property owners in Hamilton County is the appropriate method of funding the agency or service in question; and
- To ascertain what services should be provided by such levy funding, in order of priority; and
- Under advice provided from the Hamilton County Prosecutor's office, to ascertain the extent to which services funded by the levy are mandated to be provided by the county under applicable laws; and
- To review annual budget reports of agencies receiving levy funding and make recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners on programs and services that should be established, programs and services that should be eliminated and efficiencies that can be attained; and
- Conduct mid-term reviews of agencies receiving levy funding to insure contractual obligations are being met; and
- To assure that no levy funds from the levy funded agencies have, in the past, been expended on political campaigns, or if they have, to report the same to the Commission
- Evaluate possible systemic changes in the levy system including mergers and consolidations of levies, merging of administrative functions among levies and other changes that will increase efficiency or improve service.
Mindful that in order to obtain qualified and experienced members of the Tax Levy Review Committee the Commission has established the following conflict of interest rules with respect to TLRC membership:
Individuals may serve on the Tax Levy Review Committee if they have a conflict of interest with a funded agency or its contracting agencies (defined as (1) a financial interest, (2) an employment relationship, (3) legal, accounting or other consulting or representational relationship, or (4) other material connections that a member believes may color his her judgment) so long as:
- Such conflict of interest is disclosed to the TLRC and the Commission in writing within thirty (30) days of such member's appointment or within thirty (30) days after such conflict arises or the member becomes aware of it; and
- With respect to recommendations to the Commission relative to the levy that funds the agency from which the conflict arises such TLRC member will recuse him/herself; and
- Otherwise adheres to the policies of the Commission under new
section 9 of the Hamilton County Human Resources Policies
entitled "Ethical Standards Applicable to Board, Commission,
Task Force and Committee Appointees."