Pickerington Times-Sun

Small refund check on way to school district

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While some school districts will benefit greatly from refunds announced last week by the Franklin County Auditor's Office, the Pickerington Local School District will receive a relatively small slice of the pie.

Franklin County Auditor Clarence Mingo's office announced Aug. 11 that a record $10.5 million in Real Estate Assessment Fund (REA) refunds will be distributed this year to area schools and governments.

Unfortunately for Pickerington's school system, which primarily draws property taxes from Fairfield County, its refund from Mingo's office was not categorized as a windfall.

"Very insignificant" is how PLSD Treasurer Ryan Jenkins described the $4,131.50 the district will receive.

"Our overall operating budget is about $100 million," Jenkins said. "So, this is about 0.00004 percent of our operating revenue."

Although Jenkins said the district was "pleased that we are receiving our share of the fund," several Franklin County-based schools will enjoy much larger refunds.

Columbus City Schools will receive approximately $2.28 million in REA refunds, Dublin City Schools will be refunded $693,334 and Hilliard City Schools will receive $659,559.

Others in line for sizable refunds are South-Western City Schools, $607,604; Worthington City Schools, $504,583; and Westerville City Schools, $409,794.

A "surplus" of those funds is redistributed to local governments and schools in proportion to their tax bills, said David O'Neil, a spokesman for the auditor.

The refund announcement comes as the auditor's office is in the midst of completing its 2014 triennial update this fall. The three-year update is meant to bridge the gap between the state-mandated countywide reappraisal every six years of each of the county's more than 440,000 properties.

"We have an amount of money we're able to spend on our reappraisals and the triennial appraisal," O'Neil said. "We did not use it all and we were able to come in far under budget.

"There were many things we could have spent it on, but we decided it would be best to return it to the communities."

In addition to not pulling as much property tax funding from Franklin County as other central Ohio districts and receiving a nice refund, PLSD won't receive any REA refunds from the Fairfield County Auditor's Office.

Fairfield County Chief Deputy Auditor Ed Laramee noted that Franklin County collects substantially more property taxes and conducts more appraisals, and there simply isn't a REA surplus in Fairfield County.

Jenkins said no decisions have been made as to how the refund will be used, but noted it will go into the district's general fund.

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