Trustees cease tax collection

LISBON — Center Township property owners will get to keep a bit more of their money starting in 2017 after trustees were able to pay off the township’s share of a new fire truck early.

Trustees adopted a resolution instructing the county auditor’s office to cease collecting property taxes from a five-year 1.25-mill levy first approved by voters in November 2013. The owner of $100,000 home is paying $37 a year in property taxes on the levy, which ran through 2018.

Center and Elkrun townships contracted with the Lisbon Fire Department for services, and the townships agreed six years ago to help with the purchase of a new pumper. Center Township’s share was estimated to be $300,000, and the levy was expected to generate a little more than $60,000 a year throughout five years to meet the obligation.

Elkrun Township residents approved a levy in 2010 in support of the truck purchase and it has since expired.

Center Township Fiscal Officer Becky Tolson said it turned out the truck bids came in less than expected, reducing its share to $200,0000. Meanwhile, the levy ended up generating about $70,000 a year — $10,000 more than estimated by the county auditor’s office – which also helped put Center in a position to pay off the debt early.

The resolution adopted by trustees instructed the auditor’s office to quit collecting on the levy, starting Jan. 1, until it officially expires on Dec. 31, 2018.

“We told the residents the levy was only for five years and then we realized we no longer needed to continue collecting it for that period,” Tolson said, adding the trustees did not think it right to continue charging property owners once they were able to pay off the obligation early.

“In good faith the residents of the township supported the levy, and we thought this was the right thing to do,” she added.

Rather than take out a conventional loan to cover the obligation and pay interest, the trustees borrowed from themselves — using money received from leasing township property for oil and gas development.