Portsmouth, Ohio City Council Vice President Sean Dunne is fed up with the long list of people who are late paying their property taxes. He said kids are the ones suffering and it’s time to do something about it. “We have a system that’s not really working all that well. We know that tax collection from property taxes, approximately 50% goes to schools. The inability to collect taxes in our city directly damages our school system.”
Bring In The State
Speaking at Monday’s City Manager’s meeting, Dunne said he knows that collecting property taxes in Portsmouth, Ohio isn’t council’s responsibility. “I know that it’s the county, not the city that’s directly responsible for property tax collection. But there has to be a point where we take a step back and say this is not working very well. What I’m not sure of if it’s the system designed by the state that’s failing or those meant to be following the system designed by the state that aren’t properly collecting taxes.”
Dunne’s solution is to call in the state. “I’d like to request that someone from the state to come in and tell us what on earth is going on. How can we improve this system? I’d like to develop a resolution that we send to the state and ask for assistance. What I’d stress is that all that money that’s not being collected is not being invested in our schools and other services.”
State involvement in local matters is not unheard of in Scioto County. Last year, the state stepped in to take over Scioto County Children Services. Plus the state auditor is currently reviewing how the sheriff’s office handled disposing of vehicles.
Send A Bill To The County
Councilwoman Charlotte Gordon had her own idea about how to get the money. “It was suggested before that we send them a bill for all the unpaid taxes to the county.” She said that 50% of tax money goes to the schools and 20% to senior citizens. “Those are two populations that really, really need this money.” Gordon said county officials don’t make the issue a priority. “I think this is a very important issue that doesn’t seem to be at the forefront of the commissioners who are supposed to be collecting them.”
We’re Not Doing A Good Job Here
Dunne said that whatever the reason for the problem, “What’s currently going on is simply not working. I think we need to ask the state for assistance. Say, frankly, we’re not doing a good job here. We need to do better. Bring someone down here.” Dunne suggested involving more than one state agency. “Maybe even someone from the department of education as well. We don’t do a very good job collecting taxes.”
Councilman Dunne said he’d looked closely at the numbers. “I started with students from Shawnee state mapping tax delinquency throughout the city. We just did a very small sample and the numbers are crazy.” Dunne did not say if he’d compared Scioto County’s delinquent tax rate with other counties in the state.
Mayor Prefers A Direct Approach
Not everyone is ready to call the state just yet. Portsmouth Mayor Kevin E. Johnson preferred another approach. “Have we told them about our plight? I think if we could avoid the entanglement of going to the state. If we could go to the county first and reach out to them. I’ve always found the county easy to work with and very accommodating.”
Dunne said his experience with the county differed from Johnson’s. He said his last two emails to the county had gone unanswered. “I just don’t get replies from them.”
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