(Posted Feb. 15, 2017)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
The public now has an opportunity to weigh in on a proposed increase in Madison County’s property conveyance fee—a fee charged to anyone purchasing property in the county.
Currently, the fee is $2 per $1,000 of the property sales price. Earlier this month, the county budget commission—Jennifer Hunter, county auditor; Donna Landis, county treasurer; and Stephen Pronai, county prosecutor—recommended that the county commissioners increase the fee to $3 per $1,000.
The commissioners approved the in-crease on Feb. 6, then repealed the decision the next day after Pronai discovered that public hearings are required before the commissioners can vote on an increase.
The public hearings are set for 11 a.m. March 20 and March 27 in the commis-sioners’ office at the courthouse in London.
By law, all counties must charge at least $1 per $1,000 and can charge up to $3 more, for a total of $4 per $1,000. All of the funds go into the county’s general fund.
According to Hunter, Madison County’s conveyance fee has been $2 since at least 1999. She said the budget commission recommended the increase as a way to generate revenue to help offset an anticipated loss in sales tax and the continuing reduction of local government funds from the state.
The federal government is requiring Ohio to eliminate sales tax on managed care services, effective July 1. Hunter said the county will lose approximately $500,000 in annual sales tax revenue as a result.
Sales tax is one of the county’s largest sources of revenue. The county received $6.2 million in sales tax in 2015 and $6.7 million in 2016. The county’s estimated revenues for the general fund in 2017 is $14 million.
“Currently, the state has no fix for (the change). They’re just kind of leaving us on our own to figure it out,” Hunter said about how to make up for the loss in funding. “There’s a lot more push to find our money locally.”
At the $2 rate, the county collected the following in conveyance fees over the last four years: $226,426 in 2013; $257,196 in 2014; $318,192 in 2015; and $296,521 in 2016. By comparison, a $3 rate would have generated $444,781 in 2016, a difference of $148,261.
“Since the real estate market is starting to recover, we want to be poised to take advantage of that to collect more fees for use in the county,” Hunter said.
Once the Madison County commissioners hold the two public hearings, they can vote on the increase. Should they pass it, the increase would go into effect 30 days following the vote.
Conveyance fees (per $1,000) in surrounding counties are as follows: Franklin County, $2; Clark County, $4; Union County, $2; and Fayette County, $3.