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Politics

Ohio Lawmaker Aims To Curb Property Tax Spikes

 Homes in Columbus' Weinland Park neighborhood.
WOSU
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Homes in Columbus' Weinland Park neighborhood.

The housing market in Central Ohio is booming. But while rising prices are great for people looking to sell, they can put pressure on those looking to stay. That's because as home values rise, so do property taxes. A Columbus lawmaker wants to rein in those tax increases for middle class homeowners.

Sen. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus) is introducing a measure that would cap annual property tax increases at 5% for those at or below their below their county's median income.

“By capping at 5% annually we will help prevent exorbitant spikes in property taxes for homeowner occupied homes, and to some degree allow those increases to be phased in for the homeowners,” Craig says.

He modeled the proposal on Nevada legislation and says 30-some states around the country have approved some sort of safeguard against sharp increases in property taxes. By imposing limits, Craig says, homeowners might be able to better plan for rising taxes.

“As our region continues to grow, no homeowner or family should be priced out of prosperity,” Craig says. “Our goal is to continue to provide ladders of opportunity for all our residents and to keep people in their homes.”

Although the legislation is targeted at households at or below the area's median income, Franklin County Auditor Michael Stinziano warns against underestimating the potential impact.

“In the auditor's office we estimate, in looking at our homeowners that this would impact about 260,000 households in Franklin County [that] could be eligible for this protection, and so it's not insignificant,” Stinziano says.

Property taxes fund an array of local services, but the biggest recipient of funding is often the school district. Restricting tax increases would seem to cut into school funding, but Craig says he's planned for that. Similar to Ohio's homestead exemption, his plan would send state dollars to make up for lost revenue at the local level.

The Ohio School Boards Association declined to weigh in on Craig's legislation until they've had a chance to go over the legislative language. A call to the Ohio Association of School Business Officials wasn't returned.