Lake County, Ohio - Auditor

Auditor Home

    Welcome to Lake County, Ohio

    Dear Taxpayer:

    As County Auditor, it is my job to see that the funds of Lake County are spent legally and that the tax revenues are distributed properly.

    Ohio law places more responsibility upon the County Auditor than upon any other County Official. Many of the functions performed by my office are complex and require the skills of trained public servants with many years of experience. I am proud of my employees and of the outstanding job that they do for the people of Lake County.

    I hope that this short tour through the office of the County Auditor will help provide an insight into the work that this office performs.

    The major duties of each department is summarized on this web page.  Should you have any specific questions concerning the Auditor's office, or services available through this office, my staff and I will be happy to assist you.

    Please do not hesitate to call (440) 350.2532 or 1.800.899.LAKE (5253) Ext. 2532 or from the West End (440) 918.2532 or from Madison (440) 428-4348 Ext. 2532, send an  E-Mail or visit us personally at the County Administration Building (105 Main Street, Painesville, Ohio 44077).


    Sincerely,

    Edward H. Zupancic

    Edward H. Zupancic
    Lake County Auditor

    General Accounting

    • Administration and Distribution of Tax Revenues
    • Accounting for all County Funds
    • Administration of County Payroll
    • Produces Official Financial Reports for County, State and Federal Governments

    The County Auditor is the Chief Fiscal Officer of Lake County. It is his responsibility to account for over 530 million dollars received each year by the County and to issue warrants (checks) in payment of all County obligations, including the distribution of tax dollars to Lake County itself and to its five (5) townships, nine (9) villages, nine (9) cities, ten (10) school districts, and eight (8) library systems as well as other County agencies. The Auditor's General Accounting Department is the watchdog over all County funds and maintains the official records of all receipts, disbursements and fund balances.

    It is the Auditor's responsibility to serve as the paymaster for over two thousand (2,000) County employees.

    The Auditor also distributes motor vehicle license fees, gasoline taxes, estate taxes, fines, and local government funds in addition to real estate, personal property and manufactured homes taxes.

    As Chief Fiscal Officer of the County, the Auditor is required by law to prepare the County's annual financial report.

    Real Estate Assessment

    Lake County has more than 109,000 separate parcels of real estate property. It is the duty of the Auditor to see that every parcel of land and the buildings thereon are fairly and uniformly appraised and then assessed for tax purposes. A general reappraisal is mandated by Ohio Law every six years and an update every three years. The office maintains a detailed record of the appraisal on each parcel in the County, and these records are open for public inspection.


    Real Estate Transfer Department

    For receiving statements of value and administrating section 319.202 of the Ohio Revised Code, the following is the fee:   Conveyance Fee $4.00 per thousand of the value of real property transferred and Transfer Fee $.50 per parcel.


    Real Estate Tax Duplicate and Rates

    • Preparation of General Tax List and Duplicate
    • Administration of Special Assessments
    • Administration of Tax Refunds and Abatements

    Under  the law, the County Auditor cannot and does not raise or lower property taxes. Tax rates are determined by the budgetary requests of each governmental unit as authorized by vote of the people and are computed in strict accordance with procedures required by the State Department of Tax Equalization.

    Annually, the Auditor prepares the General Tax List and Duplicate. Your tax bill is based on the tax rate multiplied by your valuation on this duplicate. This is your proportionate share of the cost of operating your local government including schools, townships, villages, the County, etc.

    Ohio law limits the amount of taxation without a vote of the people to what is known as the "10 mill limitation" ($10.00 per $1,000 of assessed valuation). Any additional real estate taxes for any purpose must be voted by County residents. Your "Tax Rate" is an accumulation of all these levies and bond issues.


    Special Assessments

    Special Assessments are not part of you real estate tax but are included as a separate item on the real estate tax bill. These could include such items as ditch assessments, improvement levies such as street paving, curbs, lighting, sidewalks and sewer or water lines. The Auditor is required by law to keep an accounting of these special assessments, to place them on the tax duplicate as a separate item, and to distribute the money collected to the city, village, township or County office which levied the assessment.


    Homestead Exemption and Property Tax Rollback

    Property tax rollback and homestead exemptions are forms of property tax relief. 

    Beginning with tax year 2014, new participants in the Homestead Exemption Program will be subject to a means test.  The exemption will only be available to those otherwise eligible taxpayers with household incomes that do not exceed $30,500 for the 2014 application period as measured by Ohio Adjusted Gross Income for the preceding year.  The amount will be indexed to inflation each fall.  Existing homestead receipients will continue to receive the credit without being subject to the income test.

    It is important to realize that in order to be exempt from the means test, the homeowner must actually receive a homestead credit for tax year 2013.  This may be by either original, continuing, or late application. If otherwise eligible homeowner who did not participate in the program for 2013 does not file an application by June 2, 2014, to secure exemption for 2013, he/she will be subject to the income test for all future years.

    The same changes were made to the Homestead Program for manufactured and mobile home tax; but due to the difference in the collection schedule between real property and that tax, the changes will go into effect for tax year 2015.  The owners must have received the exemption for tax year 2014 in order to not be subject to the means test.

    The State budget that was passed beginning July 2013 limits the application of real property tax rollbacks by specifying that the rollbacks may not be applied to reduce the taxes due on any new, additional or replacement levies approved at any election held after the budget's 90 day effective date.  This means that new, additional or replacement levies placed on the ballot in August 2013 will receive the rollback, but any new, additional or replacement levy placed on the ballot in November, 2013 or and subsequent year thereafter will not be subject to the rollback reductions.  Any renewal levy will continue to be subject to the rollback payments from the State.


    Manufactured Housing

    Under Ohio law it is the responsibility of owners of manufactured homes (house trailers) to register their homes with the County Auditor for tax purposes. Annually, the Auditor's office assesses each manufactured home and prepares a tax duplicate. Tax bills are sent to each owner semi-annually. The House Trailer tax is distributed back to the local taxing districts in the same manner as real estate taxes.  In Lake County there are over two thousand (2,000) trailers on the tax duplicate.


    Weights and Measures

    The Auditor is the Sealer of Weights and Measures for the entire County, thus protecting the general public from the possible loss that may occur from faulty measuring devices such as scales. The method of enforcement is to perform "spot checks" on pre-packaged items to test the accuracy of the weight of the contents. Also, all scales and gasoline pumps are inspected on a regular basis. The Auditor is charged with the responsibility of insuring that all State laws relating to weights and measures are strictly enforced.


    Licensing

    The Auditor's Office is the focal point in the County for issuance of licenses for dogs, kennels, vendors and cigarettes.

    Dog licenses comprise the largest number of licenses sold. The annual dog registration is a service designed to benefit the animal, its owner, and the community.

    Vendor licenses authorize businesses to sell tangible property to the public collecting sales tax, part of which is returned for use on the local level.


    Data Processing Board

    The County Auditor is the Chief Administrator to the Automatic Data Processing Board. Changes in computer systems and planning must be approved by the Board to automate various County functions. Improving financial and record keeping systems of the County will improve services, reduce costs and provide County officials with a modern management tool to better administer the business of government.


    Board Membership

    • Budget Commission, Secretary
    • Board of Revision, Secretary
    • Records Commission
    • Data Processing Board - Secretary, Chief Administrator
    1. Budget Commission - The Auditor is the permanent Secretary of the Budget Commission which includes the County Treasurer and the Prosecutor.  It is the responsibility of the Commission to annually review the tax budgets of all taxing districts within the County and to determine that all tax levies are properly authorized.  In addition, the Commission allocates to local governments and libraries the monies for which they are eligible.
    2. Board of Revision - The Auditor is the permanent Secretary of the Board of Revision which also includes the County Treasurer and the President of the Board of Commissioners. It is the responsibility of the Board of Revision to rule with original jurisdiction on property assessment rolls prior to the issuance of the real estate tax list and duplicate. Property valuation complaints are also reviewed.
    3. Records Commission - The Auditor is a member of the Records Commission which is comprised of the County Recorder, Prosecutor, Clerk of Courts, a County Commissioner, and a Common Pleas Judge. It is this Commission's responsibility to review records management programs and applications for records disposal or transfer.
    4. Automatic Data Processing Board - The Auditor is the Chief Administrator and permanent Secretary of the Automatic Data Processing Board.  Board membership includes the County Treasurer, Clerk of Courts, a County Commissioner, two members of the County Board of Elections, and the Recorder or a representative appointed by each. The Board of County Commissioners having established, by resolution, a County Automatic Data Processing Board, no County office shall purchase, lease, operate, or contract for the use of any data processing equipment without prior approval of the Board.