Ever wonder where the money comes from to keep West Chester Township going? Ever wonder how much we bring in each year?
Believe it or not these and many other questions can be answered with a few clicks of the mouse starting at www.WestChesterOH.org.
For those who have read previous articles, you may recall earlier this year I wrote about ‘West Chester Township’s Digital Presence’. I addressed the evolution of our website and our Open Gov solution for financial transparency. OpenGov is now called DIG, Data Informed Government, and it can help answer questions like those posed above. DIG is all about making data available to the community and giving users the opportunity to explore.
So where does West Chester revenue come from and how much are we bringing in this year?
On the Home page (see Figure 1), you’ll see six round, green links at the bottom of your screen. The DIG link is all the way on the left and is highlighted in the graphic. Select it and the DIG page will open (see Figure 2). The first group of selections deal with ‘Financial Transparency and Sustainability’. To answer the questions above go to the ‘Revenue Sources’ box and select it.
A large pie chart of West Chester Revenue Sources is displayed with interactive labels all around it (see Figure 3), and below it, an interactive Summary Table is displayed with each of the Revenue Sources shown annually going back to 2011. Clicking on any of the pie chart labels takes you to greater detail about that revenue source. Listed below are West Chester’s revenue sources from highest collection to least collection:
Tax Revenue – 58.9%
Miscellaneous Revenue – 24.2%
Intergovernmental-State – 7.1%
Charges for Services – 2.8%
Licenses, Permits & Fees – 1.4%
Interest Revenue – 1.3%
Special Assessments – 1.1%
Intergovernmental-Federal – 0.5%
Fines & Forfeitures – 0.2%
For this article we’re going to focus on the big two – ‘Tax Revenue’ (Figure 4) and ‘Miscellaneous Revenue’ (Figure 5) which total 83.1% or $52,691,544 of our total revenue collection. Each of these two categories have multiple sources of revenue, but suffice to say, the ‘lion’s share’ of collection is PROPERTY TAX – around 94.7% or $49,889,170.
The primary difference in the two sources is that ‘Tax Revenue’ includes all normal property taxes in West Chester non-TIF areas (see Figure 4), whereas ‘Miscellaneous Revenue’ includes only TIF District property tax which are called PILOT’s or Payment In Lieu of Taxes (see Figure 5).
You may recall from a previous article that a TIF District is an economic development mechanism available to local governments in Ohio to finance public infrastructure improvements and, in certain circumstances, residential rehabilitation. Generally, TIF’s are collected in commercial and industrial areas. Two of West Chester’s biggest TIF Districts are 747 and UCB.
Last year COVID made it tough for everybody, and government jurisdictions weren’t excluded. Financially, times were difficult, but you know what? West Chester sailed through it. The reason is because, unlike incorporated areas i.e. cities, West Chester’s revenue does not come from earnings tax, it comes primarily from property tax like we saw above.
In fact, when everybody was sent home to quarantine, they improved their homes and their property values appreciated! Then, later last year the State of Ohio did a blanket 14 or 15% property value increase to every single property in Ohio and West Chester benefitted even more.
Guess what I found out using DIG? West Chester is on track to spend about 5% LESS in 2021 than we did in 2020! Isn’t that amazing?
I can’t say for sure, but we may be the ONLY jurisdiction in the entire United State who can boast about that!
West Chester Township is in a really good place financially. As long as we continue to focus on our safety services and infrastructure, with an eye on remaining competitive, marketable and sustainable, we’ll be fine.
Last point, in October 2021 the Ohio Magazine bestowed on West Chester another honor – “Best Place to do Business in Ohio”!
Go Best Chester, I mean West Chester!!