Monday, October 30, 2000

How school funding is determined

By Andrea Tortora
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        What city residents pay for Cincinnati Public Schools tax levies is determined by a number of factors.

        Ohio's school funding program is based on shared responsibility. Funds come from the state (about 40 percent), local sources (about 54 percent) and the federal government (about 6 percent).

        Most local districts get operating revenue from “mills.” A mill is a tax unit equal to 1/10 of a cent.

        Ohio taxes property on “assessed value,” which is a percentage of true market value. Land and buildings are taxed at 35 percent of true value.

        As an example: a house worth $100,000 on the real estate market would be assessed at $35,000. One mill of taxation would raise $35 in local taxes.

        Ohio law limits the amount of revenue a district can receive from inflationary increases on land and buildings. When property values rise, millage assessed is reduced.

        When the millage is reduced, the new rate is called “effective millage.”

        Put another way, with any approved levy, the amount collected does not increase over time. If passed, Cincinnati Public Schools' 6-mill levy would always collect $35.8 million a year. As property values rise, the actual millage would be decreased so that the levy would not bring in more than the amount voters originally approved.

        Every school district also automatically gets a certain amount of “inside millage.” This is 10 mills shared by a city, county and school districts in a given area.

        For Cincinnati schools, the inside millage is 4.19 mills.

        That's 17th out of the 23 Hamilton County districts. Oak Hills Schools receives the most inside millage at 6.56 mills. Three Rivers receives the least at 3.40 mills.

        Inside mills and existing school taxes combine to create the effective millage. For residents in the Cincinnati Public Schools district, the effective millage is 32.33 mills.

        That rate is slightly above the state average of 30.74 mills. The average in Hamilton County is 31.06 mills, with Cincinnati ranking ninth out of the county's 23 districts.

        Lockland is the highest at 44.50 mills; Indian Hill is the lowest at 20 mills.


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