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Hamilton County's Tax Review Group Has A Large To-Do List

Bill Rinehart

The committee that independently reviews Hamilton County property tax levies for the county commissioners is putting together its work schedule for the rest of this year and early next year.

The Tax Levy Review Committee (TLRC) held is organizational meeting Monday night on Zoom.

The committee's nine members are appointed by the county commission.

The group's major work for 2021 will involve reviewing two separate levies that support Children's Services. 

One is a five-year renewal levy approved by voters in November 2016 that will expire next year. The other is a three-year levy for additional funding approved in November 2018, also expiring in 2021.

Lisa Webb, who works in the county's budget office and provides staff support to the TLRC, called it a "booster levy" because the original levy was struggling to meet the financial demands for the services.

"Just a three-year levy to get them through an increase (in) service levels," Webb said. "And now we're looking at figuring out how we combine those levies and put that forward and what their needs levels are."

That levy review will likely begin in January and take seven months to complete, with a final report and levy recommendations going to the county commission in July. For the levy to be on the November 2021 ballot, the commission must act on it in August.

Meanwhile, the TLRC will be doing mid-point reviews of levies for indigent care, mental health, senior services and the Cincinnati Zoo. Those levies are about halfway through their five-year cycle. The goal is to see how the programs being funded with property tax monies are doing and if they are meeting the obligations.

The mid-point reviews involve presentations from the leaders of the organizations receiving levy funding.

"To help all of our members understand what they do, what the services are, what their recommendations are," said TLRC chairperson Gwen McFarlin. "We'll look at where they are, where the recommendations have been and then we move forward from there."

The reviews will likely be completed by the end of 2020 and reports presented to the county commission in January.

The county commission formed the TLRC in 1995. Its purpose, in part, from the county website: "The committee is intended to serve as a vehicle to challenge agencies who spend tax money to be creative, innovative and to provide the best and most cost-effective services possible."

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Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.