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06/15/2020

Treasurer & Auditor Outline COVID-19 Property Tax Assistance

Painesville, OH – Lake County Treasurer Lorraine Fende and Lake County Auditor Christopher Galloway announced today the process for taxpayers struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are NO provisions currently under Ohio Revised Code for a property tax reduction due to COVID-19. However, Treasurer Fende and Auditor Galloway have been meeting regularly to review ways to help those struggling and want Lake County taxpayers affected financially to know there is assistance available. “I have placed an insert in the Second Half tax bills outlining the process for applying for a payment plan on taxes and requesting a Remission of Penalty on delinquent tax balance,” Fende said. “Pay what you can, reach out to us, after July 16th and get on a payment plan for the balance. We want to help folks during this difficult time,” she reiterated.

“Although we don’t have authority to reduce or waive taxes, Treasurer Fende and I want to make sure people know we are willing to help them through this difficult time. Ohio law allows the Treasurer and Auditor to work with the public on these matters and it is our intention to help in any way the law allows,” Auditor Galloway noted.

Second Half taxes are due July 15th. Any penalties for being late apply starting July 16th. “If taxes are not paid by July 15th, the tax payer should call my office at 440.350.2516, after the due date to discuss delinquent payment plans. A delinquent payment plan can be interest and penalty free,” Fende outlined.

Any remissions of penalty for delinquent taxes is individually reviewed by the Treasurer and Auditor on a case by case basis. For taxpayers seeking remission due to COVID-19 financial hardship, Treasurer Fende and Auditor Galloway will need documentation showing the hardship. Examples include documents showing a lay-off, unemployment application, business closing, etc. “A taxpayer that makes a good faith effort to make a partial payment and go on a payment plan and can provide documentation on a COVID-19 hardship will have a very good chance of having the penalty removed from their tax bill. I want to encourage those that need the help to ask for help. We want to help,” Galloway said.

Information on the Remission of Penalty and applying for COVID-19 tax assistance is available on both the Auditor and Treasurer’s respective websites.

Due to “Social Distancing” paying your Real Estate tax in person will be more challenging. Please consider mailing your payment, using our drop box or our drive thru Fende said.

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All Lake County Buildings are now open to the general public with new regulations. Entrance will be limited to the main doors located in the new Administration Center off the square. Guests will be required to check-in with the Sheriff's Deputy, have their temperature checked and will be required to sign-in and indicate which office they are visiting. Face coverings and appointments are strongly recommended. Due to "Social Distancing" paying your Real Estate tax in person will be more challenging. Please consider mailing your payment, using our drop box, drive thru or electronic method.

As we are living thru unprecendented times, we thank you for your understanding.

Lorraine M. Fende

Treasurer

    Welcome to the Lake County Treasurer's Office

    Dear Taxpayer and Resident,

    I would like to explain some of the duties of the County Treasurer.

    In County finance, responsibility for the financial decision making is divided between the Auditor and the Treasurer. The Auditor is the Chief accountant responsible for executing transaction and maintaining financial and budgetary records. The Treasurer is the cash manager functioning in a manner similar to a banker. This system of checks and balances streamlines operations. Good communication between the offices of Treasurer and Auditor is essential in order to properly process the workload.

    As cash manager the Treasurer collects all cash received by the County and makes all deposits. The Auditor makes expenditures by the issuance of County warrants (like checks) and the Treasurer redeems those warrants as they are presented by the bank.

    The Treasurer and the Auditor's office reconcile on a daily basis to make sure all records are in agreement. That is the check and balance for your tax dollars. We balance to the penny every day.

    If you have any problems or questions concerning the Treasurers Office please do not hesitate to call from Painesville (440) 350-2516, from Madison 428-4348, from West End and Cleveland 918-2516; FAX (440) 350-2623, send E-Mail or visit us personally at the County Administration Building (105 Main St, Painesville, Ohio 44077). 

    Sincerely,

    Lorraine Fende

    Lorraine Fende
    Treasurer









    The Treasurer's Responsibilities

    Who Is Your County Treasurer?

    County treasurers in all of Ohio's 88 counties have traditionally served as the local tax collector. However, tighter budgets and increasing demands at the local level have changed the face of the position of County Treasurer and increased expectations for this important occupation.

    Today's Treasurer serves as the County's Chief Investment Officer, the Administrator of sophisticated delinquent tax collection programs and the keeper of property tax escrow accounts. As a result, those that hold this position must be individuals who are highly trained in investment, cash management and financial planning strategies to properly manage and safeguard local funds.

    Increasing Responsibilities, Greater Challenges

    As local budgets have grown tighter and school districts face mounting financial challenges, the responsibilities of County Treasurers have multiplied. County Treasurers face growing pressures from local districts to expedite the tax collection process and increase efforts to collect on delinquent taxes. In essence, the faster the Treasurer collects and accounts for revenue, the faster the districts receive the funds.

    In addition, in many counties the dollars earned from the investments are a major source of revenue for the County General Fund. County Treasurers in the smallest counties are responsible for investment porfolios in the $3 to 5 million range, and more than $300 million in the largest counties. This represents an increase of 100 to 500 percent over portfolio sizes just 10 years age. As a result, County Treasurers are continually balancing the security of investments with pressures from County Commissioners and School Board Members to maximize the return on the investments.

    Comparison figures of Brown (small county), Wood (medium county), Lake (medium county), Cuyahoga (large county):

      Cash Flow Investment Income Amount of Bond
    Brown $ 10,975,000.00 $ 250,000.00 $ 10,000.00
    Wood $ 254,138,000.00 $ 1,528,000.00 $ 100,000.00
    Lake $ 270,000,000.00 $ 5,700,000.00 $ 200,000.00
    Cuyahoga $ 2,300,000,000.00 $ 28,000,000.00 $ 2,000,000.00

    In 1996, the Ohio General Assembly raised the levels of accountability and qualifications for County Treasurers. Senate Bill 81 increased exponentially the mandatory financial reporting, as well as quarterly and yearly reports of all transactions and investment activities.

    In addition, the legislation requires mandatory continuing education courses for all County Treasurers, including 26 hours to be completed by a new Treasurer upon taking office and 13 hours each year following. These standards are similar to continuing education requirements for professional groups such as attorneys and accountants. Ohio is one of only a handful of states that require this level of continuing education for its County Treasurers.

    The Future

    The future promises to present local governments and school districts with even greater budget challenges. Therefore, it is critical that Ohio be able to recruit the top candidates for County Treasurer positions. In addition, Ohio must recognize the considerable responsibilities and increasing expectations that present County Treasurers in all 88 counties face each day.

    Counties must be able to offer salaries that are competitive with similar positions in both the public and private sector to encourage accountable, highly skilled financial experts to consider being candidates for County Treasurer positions statewide. Treasurers are the individuals Ohioans entrust to invest and manage local funds. Only the most experienced and qualified individuals can meet the upcoming challenges facing tomorrow's County Treasurers.