Upper Arlington News

City will receive unexpected refund from auditor

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The city of Upper Arlington will receive an unexpected financial shot in the arm to the tune of nearly $50,000 thanks to a refund from the Franklin County Auditor's Office.

Franklin County Auditor Clarence Mingo's office announced Aug. 11 that a record $10.5 million in real-estate assessment fund refunds will be distributed this year to area schools and governments.

Among those to receive a refund is the city of Upper Arlington, which, according to the auditor's office, will be granted $49,282.51.

The news came as a pleasant surprise, Upper Arlington Finance Director Cathe Armstrong said.

"This was unexpected and, of course, is welcome," she said. "Our total fees that we paid the county this year are approximately $200,000, so this is a nice return."

The real-estate assessment fund comes from a portion of property taxes collected and set aside by the county auditor's office to pay for real-estate appraisals.

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

The refund announcement comes as the auditor's office completes its 2014 triennial update. The three-year update is meant to bridge the gap between the state-mandated 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," he said.

Mingo, who will be challenged Nov. 4 in his bid for re-election by Upper Arlington City Councilman Mike Schadek, last issued surplus checks in 2012.

At that time, his real-estate assessment fund had a balance of a little more than $20.5 million. He gave back about $7 million then, leaving about $13.5 million to pay the final costs of the 2011 reappraisal and to help cover the costs of this year's triennial update.

"We received a smaller refund after the triennial appraisal was conducted in 2011," Armstrong said. "The local governments received a large one like this after the 2004 appraisal."

Armstrong added that the city hasn't earmarked the new revenue for any local projects.

"This amount will go back into the general fund," she said.

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