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On Tuesday, November 4th, Ohio voters will elect a slew of statewide offices and decide on many local issues.

Why You Might Care Who Your County Auditor Is

Harry Bossey, who owns an export business in Miamisburg, is running for the second time as a Republican against Democratic Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith.
Lewis Wallace

Many Miami Valley voters will be asked to choose a county auditor on the ballot on Tuesday—but some might not be clear on why the office matters.

The county auditor heads the office in charge of estimating property values, which in turn affects homeowners, business owners, and renters. When property values go up, owners pay more taxes, which can also translate to higher rents; for owners, that also means a home or business likely gains value. When assessed values go down, owners owe less in taxes, which can be good for the individual pocketbooks but hits county government, school and library budgets.

Democrat Karl Keith has been Montgomery County auditor since 2000, through a major recession that destroyed a lot of people’s property values.

“It’s been a difficult situation for people to deal with, and we’ve tried to be responsive and open and transparent throughout the whole process,” he said. “I think we’ve done a good job at that.”

If you don’t like your tax assessment, you can appeal it, and Keith says he’s proud of being one of the first counties in Ohio to set up an appeals process.

“I would like to see the auditor’s office be more customer-focused,” said Keith’s Republican opponent, Harry Bossey. He says appeals are still too difficult, and if he were elected he would establish an easy online process and more transparency overall.

Bossey also says the county should contract out less of its work—full property tax valuations are only carried out every six years, and Keith works with contractors to complete the assessments. Keith says using contractors is more efficient and less costly than having staff with specialized skills in-house.

Harry Bossey, who also ran against Karl Keith in 2010, owns an export business in Miamisburg and says his experience with finances as a small business owner qualifies him for the job. Butler and Clark Counties also have contested races for county auditor.

Lewis Wallace is WYSO's managing editor, substitute host and economics reporter. Follow him @lewispants.