Jackson City Councilman Dan Coll made his second visit in recent weeks to the Jackson County Board of Commissioners in his bid to explore possible ways to increase revenues for the city. Coll was the first scheduled appointment for the Tuesday morning, June 9 meeting.

During his first visit to the commissioners on May 27, Coll addressed the issue of delinquent real estate taxes in the county, something he describes as “a big problem.” At that time, he explained Jackson City Council is actively looking for ways to raise revenues and one of the first things that came to mind was that of the roughly $3.2 million in delinquent real estate taxes in the county. Of that total, Coll said approximately $600,000 pertains to the City of Jackson.

The commissioners encouraged Coll to speak with Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Justin Lovett about the issue, stating he and his office have been quite aggressive in collection efforts; however, due to staffing issues as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis, they were unsure just how much attention the matter could be given presently.

Coll stated during the June 9 meeting that he and Jackson Mayor Randy Evans had recently met with Lovett and Jackson County Auditor Tiffany Ridgeway.

“They advised us accordingly, particularly how the rights of the land owner or home owner are magnified in their favor, which makes it difficult to collect taxes in an orderly fashion,” he stated. “Mr. Lovett was very enthusiastic about continuing his program to collect delinquent taxes and will be pursuing that aggressively when his staff can get back together and start to go again.”

In his June 9 visit, Coll switched his focus to that of the county’s distribution of sales tax revenues, as part of the Community Improvement Board (CIB). Jackson County remains unique in that it is the only county in the state that utilizes such a sales-tax-revenue distribution system. This system has been in effect in the county since the general public voted to implement it in November 1987. The total amount of sales tax in the county is divided into thirds, with the county’s General Fund, Jackson County Correctional Facility and CIB each receiving equal shares.

As Coll explained, the CIB’s funding formula uses a combination of population and road mileage in a given municipality or township to determine each entity’s cut.

Overall, Coll was questioning how often these figures are re-evaluated and whether or not Census findings play a part in the process. He said he had the latest road mileage and population figures, which are from 2011. Coll explained he and Jackson City Auditor Brett Reed had recently discussed the potential annexation of properties, which would add to the city’s road mileage total and subsequently their “share of the pie.”

“The pie is the same for everybody, but I’m trying to maybe get a little extra out of it,” he said. “If we added three miles of road, for instance, to our 37 miles, that’s 10 percent. That might equate to $5,000.”

Uncertain as to how the funding formula was established and how often the figures are updated, the commissioners advised Coll to seek information from the likes of CIB President and Scioto Township Trustee Jim Leonard, current Jackson County Auditor Ridgeway, former Jackson County Auditor Clyde Holdren, Jackson City Auditor Reed and/or Jackson City Deputy Auditor Wendy Sexton.

“I’d like to know the details just because I question its legality to start with, but that’s another discussion for another day,” said Commissioner Jon Hensler.

City Deputy Auditor Sexton told The Telegram she believes 2011 was the last time the funding formula’s figures were fully updated. Further, she said road mileage makes up the bulk of the funding and that when road mileage certification is received from the office of the Jackson County Engineer, that figure changes accordingly.

The City of Jackson currently receives the second-highest percentage of sales tax revenue with 12.894 percent. The City of Wellston receives the most with 13.178 percent. These funds are meant to be used for such things as road improvements and the repair of infrastructure, and are not to be used for wages and fringe benefits. To provide a bit of perspective with regard to how much money is involved in this process, in 2018, funding requests to the CIB from all 16 townships and municipalities in the county totaled close to $2.6 million. It should be noted that townships and municipalities reserve the right to carryover unused funds from previous years, which could affect the total amount of requested monies.

Once the CIB approves these requests, the commissioners give the final approval. However, Commissioner Ed Armstrong stated during the June 9 meeting that the CIB ultimately makes the decision of where the money is spent.

“Each township and municipality submits an application of sorts explaining how they’d like to spend the money,” he said. “But, the commissioners really have no control over where they put it.”