June 13, 2024
Funds

Washington County approves transfer of REA Funds | News, Sports, Jobs



During the Washington County Commission meeting Thursday, Washington County Auditor Matthew Livengood (right) talks to commissioners about the $1.1 million in Real Estate Assessments funds that his office will refund to county taxing authorities, including school districts and townships, in February. (Photo by Michelle Dillon)

MARIETTA — The Washington County Commission unanimously approved a resolution for the county auditor’s office to return $1.1 million in Real Estate Assessment Funds to local schools, municipalities, townships and the county.

Auditor Matthew Livengood said his office collects property taxes and distributes them to the villages, townships, school districts and other taxing authorities in the county.

A portion of that money is put in the Auditor’s Office Real Estate Assessment (REA) Fund, Livengood said. Ohio Revised Code allows REA money to be used for auditor’s office operations that have to do with real estate assessment and anything else real estate-related, he said.

According to Livengood, the REA Fund has done very well over the past three years.

“I was able to save the county some money by how I contracted and executed the 2022 reappraisal, and that’s what brings us to today. Because the REA Fund is as healthy as it is, as a steward of public funds, having a very healthy REA fund allows me to then in turn go back and redistribute a total of $1.1 million,” Livengood said.

The office will issue the money proportionally, based on property taxes collected in 2023. Whatever proportion of that money a taxing authority contributed, that is the percentage of the $1.1 million in REA funds they will get back, he said.

The biggest contributor to the property taxes collected in 2023 was Marietta City Schools, at almost 22%. So they will be getting almost 22% of the $1.1 million, Livengood said.

Livengood said he looked at the amount of money collected last year, what he will probably need to operate this year and then gave his office a little bit of a cushion when determining how much of the money he could refund.

The Auditor’s Office has redistributed REA funds before. Under the former auditor, $1,130,000 was redistributed in 2017. Money was also redistributed in 2010, Livengood said.

Commissioner James Booth said he approached Livengood releasing some of the REA funds.

“My initiative was to find funding for a school resource officer, especially in the school district of Frontier. Frontier is the furthest away from the center of the county. By the (chief deputy) sheriff’s terminology, it takes anywhere from 20 to 25 minutes to respond to a call in the Matamoras/Frontier area,” Booth said.

Booth used to be a police officer and has a niece who lives in Perry, Iowa, whose children go to the school where a shooting occurred earlier this month. They happened to be running late that morning, he said.

Based on all of this, Booth sees a school resource officer as an imperative need at Frontier Local Schools, he said.

Livengood said that how the REA funds are spent by the school districts, townships, and others is up to their discretion.

Commissioners have pledged to help with funding for a school resource officer if Frontier goes in that direction. The commission will provide $50,000 the first year, $30,000 the second year and $20,000 the third year to help pay for the position, Booth said. The commission would buy another vehicle for the Sheriff’s Office to help them have a car available, he said.

He also said Mincks has pledged that his office would pay the salary for the officer during summer when school is not in session.

The money will be issued in one check to each entity in early February, Livengood said.

Wolf Creek Local Schools Superintendent Douglas Baldwin said that when they receive the REA funds “they will go back in our general fund and be used for whatever.”

A lot of schools said they would use their REA funds to pay for a school resource officer. Wolf Creek already has an officer and pays for the position out of their funds, Baldwin said.

Marietta City Schools CFO Frank Antill said the district is “going to explore adding another resource officer for the district with the Real Estate Assessment funds.”

Warren Local Schools CFO Melcie Wells said the district is very appreciative of the money.

“There are no specific plans. It will just be used to meet the general needs of the district, since it’s a reimbursement,” she said.

Fort Frye Local Schools Superintendent Stephanie Starcher said the money will be discussed with the Board of Education’s Finance Committee.

“Likely what we’ll recommend to that committee is that they use it to offset the cost of the school resource officer position for a year,” Starcher said.

A grant that was funding the position for the district has expired, she said.

Belpre City Schools did not respond to requests for comment about the REA funds by press time.

Michelle Dillon can be reached at mdillon@newsandsentinel.com.

The recipients of the REA funds and the amounts they received are as follows:

* Washington County – $204,422.07

* Belpre CSD – $96,282.03

* Fort Frye LSD – $104,772.41

* Frontier LSD – $27,669.01

* Marietta CSD – $241,162.29

* Warren LSD – $151,265.15

* Wolf Creek LSD – $104,301.40

* Washington County Career Center – $42,951.68

* City of Belpre – $10,178.20

* City of Marietta – $9,977.56

* Village of Beverly – $1,026.92

* Village of Lowell – $532.32

* Village of Lower Salem – $22.18

* Village of Macksburg – $20.69

* Village of Matamoras – $491.71

* Lowell-Adams Joint Fire District – $608.76

* Adams Township – $1,674.85

* Aurelius Township – $593.98

* Barlow Township – $4,736.36

* Belpre Township – $9,951.99

* Decatur Township – $2,772.89

* Dunham Township – $6,317.00

* Fairfield Township – $1,401.82

* Fearing Township – $1,848.24

* Grandview Township – $1,654.48

* Independence Township – $314.40

* Lawrence Township – $563.74

* Liberty Township – $539.61

* Ludlow Township – $351.35

* Marietta Township – $8,382.69

* MuskingumTonwship – $14,316.64

* Newport Township – $3,741.79

* Palmer Township – $805.46

* Salem Township – $2,606.13

* Warren Township – $7,696.93

* Waterford Township – $20,258.74

* Watertown Township – $2,171.92

* Wesley Township – $2,499.80

* Morgan LSD – $17.06

* Caldwell EvSD – $8,333.22

* Mid-East Ohio JVSD – $734.52




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