GALLIA COUNTY — Gallia County Local Schools District officials say that they are soon facing the potential loss of roughly $1.5 million in upcoming tax revenue this year to the district’s general and permanent improvement funds, among other organizations throughout the county.
According to information obtained from district school officials, and reportedly coming from the Gallia Auditor’s Office, the education system is set to lose $1,544,099.04 because of a reevaluation in public utility tax in Gallia due in large part to the January 2017 sale of Gavin Plant from American Electric Power to Lightstone Generation LLC. AEP reportedly sold four plants to Lightstone Generation for around $2.1 billion with Gavin Plant being among them.
Among other entities set to lose funding, Cheshire Township is reportedly looking to lose $39,673.75. The Gallia County government general fund is looking to lose $144,329.79. Bossard Library is looking to lose around $57,467.28. The Gallia Board of Developmental Disabilities is looking to lose around $321,467.28. The local Area Council on Aging is set to lose around $21,199.79 and the Gallia Veterans Services Commission is set to lose around $21,994.70. The Gallia Health Department is looking to potentially lose $21,114.47. Addison Township looks to lose around $5,125.55. The Gallia Park District looks to lose around $21,224.97.
Reportedly, the loss comes from tax reevaluation at the state level, based on paperwork filed to the Gallia Auditor’s Office and then inspected by state tax officials. Real property conveyance fee statement of value and receipt paperwork from the auditor’s office places the Gallia Gavin Plant sale at roughly at $125,790,670.
“We will take a hit in either March or April when the first collection (of money) comes in,” said Gallia County Local Schools Superintendent Jude Meyers. “We’re kind of in a strange position because the power plants in Gallia can make our school district look wealthy (to the state) but we’ve (over half the student body) on free or reduced lunch.”
The superintendent said, that to his knowledge, Ohio coal plants were dropping in value due to energy industrial trend changes whereas natural gas facilities were rising in value, and this had affected funding for schools across the state.
The county district schools receive a chunk of their funding from the assessed values of public utilities for taxes.
According to education.ohio.gov,” Public school districts use a combination of state funds, local sources such as property taxes (and in some cases income taxes) and federal funds…The amount of state funds that a district receives is based on a formula that takes into account the student enrollment and the property wealth of the district…The Department of Education’s General Revenue Fund budget represents the largest component of primary and secondary education… These funds, along with profits from the Ohio Lottery are used to fund Ohio’s 612 public school districts, 49 joint vocational school districts, and approximately 370 public community schools. They also fund the activities of the Ohio Department of Education, including funding for early childhood education, pre-school special education, assessments, and the A-F report card… In addition to state aid through the foundation program, many school districts receive reimbursements payments for lost property tax revenue caused by the phase out of the general business tangible personal property tax (TPP) and the reduction of property tax assessments rates on utility property (KwH). Finally, the state pays 10% of locally levied property taxes for residential and agricultural real property owners and an additional 2.5% for homeowners and represents property tax relief to individual property taxpayers in Ohio.”
Gallia Local Schools officials say they did not hear about an unexpected loss in funding until a budget commission meeting in November 2018.
Gallia County Schools District has previously operated on a roughly $26 million general fund, with around 66 percent of that coming from local sources and 34 coming from state. Officials have expressed concern with the formula for how public schools are funded as it seems to change frequently under different state administrations and can make future expenditure budgeting hard to predict. Ohio reportedly reevaluates every three years what part of its funding expenditures go to assist public schools. Gallia Local Schools reportedly heard about the $1.5 million loss after that reevaluation period and will now have to consider how to make up or operate on a shortfall in funding.
State Representative Ryan Smith appeared at a recent Gallia Local Schools Board of Education meeting to hear concerns and bring those concerns on to state legislators.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.