Sen. O’Brien Pledges to Help Resolve Property Tax Increases
December 14, 2023 by Ann Wishart

Ohio Sen. Sandra O’Brien (R-Rome) assured a room full of Geauga County officials Dec. 7 she will work with her committee to address the property re-evaluations that recently increased property taxes.

Ohio Sen. Sandra O’Brien (R-Rome) assured a room full of Geauga County officials Dec. 7 she will work with her committee to address the property re-evaluations that recently increased property taxes.

“We’re very open to getting a solution, not just a Band-Aid,” she said during a meet-and-greet at the Heritage House on Chardon Square. “We know this is a major problem for many people.”

Geauga County Commissioners and most townships and municipalities in Geauga County followed the advice of the Geauga County Budget Commission and lowered a voted levy to mitigate the property tax increase for one year. But, legislative action is needed for a permanent solution.

O’Brien — who lives in Ashtabula County and represents about 365,000 residents there and in Geauga and Trumbull counties — recognized those efforts to keep tax bills from skyrocketing this year.

“Kudos to Geauga County and your budget commission. I’m just your biggest fan,” she said.

A former teacher, O’Brien said she has tried to explain Ohio’s tax system to constituents.

“I literally saw their eyes roll back in their heads,” she said.

County Auditor Chuck Walder introduced O’Brien to the crowd of dozens of public officials and some residents.

Ohio’s legislature does listen to its voters, he said, recalling when the value of the county’s cropland escalated dramatically and forced many farmers to quit farming. The state instituted the Current Agricultural Use Value system to protect farmers from inflation.

Walder said it is important for officials and voters to lean on the legislature to fix the recent tax burden within the year, so next year’s tax bills are reasonable.

“(O’Brien) is one person but one person can make a difference,” he said.

County Prosecutor Jim Flaiz supported O’Brien’s efforts.

“I’m not a big fan of the state legislature,” he said. “But Sandy O’Brien’s down there for the right reasons. She cares about Geauga. She’s committed to doing the right thing.”

Carolyn Brakey, president of the Geauga County Board of Health, presented O’Brien with a stack of more than 1,000 petitions signed by county residents urging the legislature to solve the tax problem and cease taxation without representation, Brakey said.

O’Brien assured those in attendance she would work diligently on it.

“This committee is serious about getting a solution,” she said. “I don’t want to see people lose their homes because they can’t pay their taxes.”