Thank you to everybody who joined us at the Candidate Face 2 Face forum. I’m grateful for the chance to speak with you all and hear your priorities and concerns.
Also, thank you to the event’s sponsors, League of Women Voters of Kent, League of Women Voters of Northern Portage, Kent Ohio Lions Club, Portage County NAACP, National Alliance on Mental Illness Portage County, Kent Environmental Council, and KSU Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
If you missed the forum, here are a few questions that voters asked, along with my answers. –Lis Kenneth Regula
Q: As auditor, you’ll be responsible for assessing property values. During the last assessment, the auditor reduced the assessed property values by a blanket five percent across all of Portage County. This was in response to the recession, but it reduced property tax income, which funds schools and city or township governments. Do you agree with this blanket five percent reduction?
Lis Kenneth Regula: No, Portage County is a broad, diverse community. Areas within the county were impacted by the recession in different ways, so they recovered differently, too. Some people in Portage County are thriving while others are just struggling to get by. A blanket reduction isn’t fair to the communities, schools, and families who were hit hardest during the recession. It’s especially unfair to our children because taking away from school funding creates a lasting, long-term impact by reducing investments in our kids’ futures.
Q: So, how fine of a scale should be applied in property assessment reductions?
Regula: Property assessment reductions should follow legal city and township boundaries. For instance, Aurora might have been impacted differently than Windham. So, property assessment rates should be evaluated based on the city or township, to accurately reflect each locality’s true economic standing.
Q: Why is a biologist running for auditor?
Regula: As an educator and researcher, facts, details, and records all matter to me. When I surveyed amphibians and reptiles for NASA Glenn and NASA Plum Brook, if I said that I saw a species, I had to prove exactly where and when. If I didn’t see a species that was previously there, I had to show historical records and changes that might account for its absence.
I had to document, beyond a shadow of a doubt, exactly what occurred and what I found. As Auditor, I would be responsible for insuring that all documents my office produces are held to that same level of accuracy and precision. That way, Portage County’s financial records are similarly accurate, beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Q: What will you do about the Current Agricultural Use Value (CAUV) and the Three Year Rollback?
Regula: Since CAUV is a state program, the state legislature must change it. But as auditor, I will work to assess property values with the highest level of fairness and accuracy, and I will use my platform to support changing the unfair Three Year Rollback.
CAUV is a state program. It establishes a lower tax rate for property that is used only for agriculture. There’s an unpopular part of this law, called the three year rollback: If a farmers stop using their land for agriculture, then they must pay the difference between the reduced rate and the general property tax rate. So, if you stop farming in 2018, then you owe money back to 2015.
Or, the head of a family farm might pass away and his kids want to split up the land. Then, they owe three years’ worth of increased tax rates.
There’s no other tax discount program that has the Three Year Rollback. For example, if you stop qualifying for the Earned Income Credit, you don’t have to pay back the difference.
Voters also asked about Regula’s background and his priorities as auditor.