Frequently Asked Questions
Most questions regarding the Margaret Creek Conservancy District annual maintenance assessment are answered in this section. If you have a question that is not answered here please contact the Margaret Creek Conservancy District at 740-592-1792.
List of questions:
What is the Margaret Creek Conservancy District (MCCD)?
What is an annual maintenance assessment?
What is the assessment for?
Why am I assessed?
Who gives MCCD the authority to assess property?
For how long will the assessment run and what prevents MCCD from raising the assessment?
Who owns the dams/property?
What is the benefit and how was this determined?
Who is affected by the new assessment?
Why does Margaret Creek Subdistrict need to increase the assessment?
Why didn’t I get to vote on the assessment?
How can MCCD assess tax-exempt property?
Why are tax-exempt parcels assessed?
How is my parcel assessed?
Are single-family residences assessed?
What is my anticipated assessment?
Are vacant parcels subject to assessment?
Are agricultural parcels subject to assessment?
What is an ERU?
Why are we assessed again for these projects?
My parcel straddles the MCCD watershed boundary will I be assessed?
Does a Homestead Exemption impact my assessment?
Is leased property subject to assessment?
Are there any plans to take property by eminent domain?
How do I check my assessment?
1. What is The Margaret Creek Conservancy District (MCCD)?
Margaret Creek Conservancy District (MCCD) established in November 1963, was created as a local level of government to develop and put into motion a plan to reduce flooding and conserve water for public uses within the districts 60.3 square mile drainage area (38,000 acres). Currently MCCD maintains four dams within the watershed: Meeks Lake (Site #1), Texas-Eastern (Steel) Lake (Site #4), Johnson-French Lake (Site #5), and Fox Lake (Site #6). In addition to these four sites MCCD built Lake Snowden (Site #2), and had the responsibility of this site until it was sold in 1984 to Le-Ax Water District. Le-Ax sold Lake Snowden to Hocking College in 1998. In 1989 at the request of the MCCD Board of Directors and approved by the Conservancy Court, MCCD merged with the Hocking Conservancy District becoming a Subdistrict of HCD.
2. What is an annual maintenance assessment?
An assessment is the annual fee collected by a conservancy district for retiring capital debt and/or improvements, and for the costs of regular operation and maintenance. Assessments are based on benefits to individual properties or political entities and are collected when property owners pay their property taxes. The proposed annual maintenance assessment will be levied against property owners within the watershed and within the boundaries of the Subdistrict. The original maintenance assessment, performed in the early 1970’s, was based on the appraisals of benefits/damages and the property values at that time.
3. What is the assessment for?
The dams managed by MCCD incur maintenance, operation, replacement, and administrative costs to ensure their continued effective performance. The current four dams under the jurisdiction of MCCD are 40 years old, which require continual maintenance. ODNR reclassified two sites as Class I (high-hazard) dams, they are (Site #6) Fox Lake reclassified in 1983 and (Site #1) Meeks Lake reclassified in 1990. The assessment will fund the continued maintenance, operation and administration of all four dams and the rehabilitation of the two Class 1 dams. The local share for the dam rehabilitation costs could exceed $750,000, which represents the 35% local share. The dams are eligible for rehabilitation under the Watershed Rehabilitation Program administered by NRCS, which will provide the remaining 65% of the costs. The two dams in need of rehabilitation are in good condition but due to downstream development they were reclassified and do not meet the current criteria established by the State of Ohio and the Federal Government to safely store or pass 100% of the Probable Maximum Flood.
4. Why am I assessed?
MCCD is charged with the responsibility of operating and maintaining the flood reduction system, which requires a small investment from all property owners in the form of an assessment. Properties located within the jurisdiction of the Subdistrict receive benefits related to the performance of the flood control system that reduce flooding, improve water quality, and conserve water for public uses. MCCD has functioned for many years with the support of HCD and prudent fiscal management. The aging system and the need for two dam rehabilitation projects that could exceed $750,000 for the local share will require additional revenue to safeguard the dams and be in compliance with State and Federal regulations. Ohio law details how conservancy districts generate funds to operate through assessments of property owners. The current maintenance assessment has been in place since 1974.
5. Who gives MCCD the authority to assess property?
Section 6101 of the Ohio Revised Code stipulates how conservancy districts are organized, how they operate and how they receive funding for operation and maintenance.
6. For how long will the assessment run and what prevents MCCD from raising the assessment?
Ohio law stipulates that conservancy district assessments must be reviewed and approved on an annual basis by the MCCD Board of Directors. The plan prepared by MCCD and the assessments were projected over a multi-year period in an effort to develop a stable level of funding through individual assessments of benefited parcels.
7. Who owns the dams/property?
Except for Fox Lake, Site #6 (owned by ODNR), they are all privately owned with MCCD retaining permanent easements to the dams and reservoirs of the projects. There were a variety of reasons for easements/land rights instead of ownership of the sites including the fact that it would be more cost efficient to purchase easements rather than purchasing property, and/or the willingness of the property owner to sell. The property owners have the right to limit the use of the area however; the flood reduction benefits still exist regardless of who owns the property.
8. What is the benefit and how was this determined?
Benefits from the flood reduction system are received in the form of reduced flooding, increased or improved agricultural production, water storage, reduced soil erosion, recreational benefits, improved transportation infrastructure, and the increased development in the area due to the construction of the dams. MCCD contracted with a team of economists, Jack Faucett Associates, to conduct the Benefit Analysis segment for the Reappraisal of Benefits and was completed in August 2012. The analysis placed a value for the benefits of $71.8 million for the years 1965 to 2034. It should be noted that the recreational benefits value for Lake Snowden only included the years that MCCD controlled this site (1972-1984).
9. Who is affected by the new assessments?
All non-assessment-exempt parcels that are within the watershed and within the legal boundaries of the Subdistrict are subject to the assessment.Cemeteries/graveyards will be assigned an assessment of zero ($0.00), parcels less than 1000 square feet equals $0.00 assessment, as determined by our Board of Appraisers. However, if a church adjoins the cemetery it will be assessed as any other church for their structure, but not the cemetery Legal boundaries include parts of Athens, Alexander, Lee, and Waterloo townships. Currently 991 parcels pay an assessment. In 1989 when HCD and MCCD merged the District eliminated over 3400 parcels as they generated less than $1.00 per year. Most of these parcels will be reinstated at the new assessment rate. Approximately 5,400 parcels will be subject to the new assessment. Annually the Subdistrict will monitor parcels that are split and make the necessary revisions to the assessment for those parcels.
10. Why does Margaret Creek Subdistrict need to increase the assessment?
Margaret Creek Subdistrict is committed to safeguarding our area by maintaining our dams for future generations. The Subdistrict is currently operating on assessments received, interest earned and a loan from HCD. MCCD has had financial difficulties since its creation and existed on loans, assessments, and revenue generated by Lake Snowden up to the time MCCD had to sell Lake Snowden to pay off construction costs. The MCCD Board of Directors requested a friendly merger with HCD in 1989. HCD was well equipped to operate the Subdistrict, with the thought that we could assist this Subdistrict until the financial status of MCCD improved. However with the economic downturn in 2008, it became difficult for HCD to continue to assist the Subdistrict at a discounted rate. By 2011, the combination of the costs to operate the Subdistrict and the need for two dam rehabilitation projects (which could exceed $750,000 for the local share) led to the necessity for a Reappraisal of Benefits to establish a new assessment for the Subdistrict. Current MCCD annual assessments total $4,500 and have not been sufficient to support the Subdistrict for a number of years.
11. Why didn’t I get to vote on the assessment?
The assessment process is authorized by Ohio Law (ORC 6101), which stipulates how conservancy districts are organized, how they operate and how they receive funding for operation and maintenance. The law does not provide for a vote on the assessment.
12. How can MCCD assess tax-exempt property?
An exemption from taxation is not an exemption from an assessment. “Taxation” and “taxes” are separate from assessments. To be exempt from assessments, State or Federal law must expressly exempt an entity from assessments. Current State and Federal law considers US Government and State of Ohio parcels exempt from this assessment. All other tax-exempt and public utility parcels are subject to assessment.
13. Why are tax-exempt parcels assessed?
All parcels receive a benefit from Margaret Creek Subdistrict projects even churches, schools, and other local governments receive this benefit and although they are exempt from taxes they are not exempt from assessments. For example some are required to pay an assessment for the installation of water and sewer. Only the following parcel types pursuant to State or Federal statutes are exempt from the assessment:
Community College District RC 3354.15
Technical College District RC 3357.14
University Branch District RC 3355.11
Capital Square (Review & Advisory Board) RC 105.41 (K)
Convention Facilities Authority RC 351.12
Air Quality Development Authority RC 3706.15
Turnpike Commission RC 5537.20
Transportation Improvement District RC 5540.14
Bridge Commissions RC 5593.22
Regional Water & Sewer District RC 6119.40
Water Development Authority RC 6121.16
Supreme Court facilities/grounds RC 2503.45
Public Facilities Commission RC 154.14
Public-Owned College or University RC 3345.12 (M)
Monument and Memorials for
Distinguished Deceased Persons RC 5709.16
Federal Lands RC 159.05
Solid Waste Treatment Facilities RC 6123.16
States Lands Fifth Dist. Court of Appeals
In addition to the list above the BOA for the District have ruled that cemeteries/graveyards will be assigned an assessment of zero ($0.00). The revenue that would have been generated through the assessments of cemeteries/graveyards is minimal (less than $600.00) and will not be recovered by increasing the assessment rate of the remaining parcels within the watershed. Parcels less than 1000 square feet equals $0.00 assessment.
14. How is my parcel assessed?
The ERU (Equivalent Residential Unit) plus 20% Area Method was d
eetermined by the Board of Appraisers to best distribute the assessment in a fair and equitable manner. In order to consider the total contribution of runoff from each parcel the 20% area method was coupled with the ERU method. All parcels in the Subdistrict are assessed based on these two components to estimate their contribution of runoff to the watershed. The first being the impervious area which includes all rooftops, parking lots, paved driveways (not gravel parking lots or gravel driveways), sidewalks and any other hard surfaces. These were determined by measuring a statistical sample of single-family residential properties in the watershed, which produced an average residential impervious area of 3,800 square-feet. This 3,800 square feet represents one ERU (Equivalent Residential Unit). All single-family residential units would then be assessed one ERU. The impervious area for each Commercial, Industrial and Public parcel was measured and the impervious area divided by 3,800 sq. ft. to determine the number of ERU’s for each parcel. The ERU component of the assessment will be $22.75 per year / ERU. It was determined that 80% of the total annual assessment levied would be distributed to the impervious area of the parcels. The second component of the assessment is the remaining pervious area for each parcel. Based on a Purdue University study the runoff from a 4-inch rainfall from typical grassland is about 0.8-inches, or 20%. Therefore 20% of the total annual assessment levied was distributed to the pervious area of all the parcels. This produced a projected rate of $0.86 per acre for the pervious area of each parcel.
As an example: a single-family residence on a 5-acre parcel will be assessed one ERU $22.75 plus 5 acres minus the impervious area X $0.86 per acre. ($22.75 +$4.22 = $26.97 per year)
15. Are single-family residences assessed?
Yes, all single-family residential will be charged one ERU plus the rate for the remaining pervious area of the parcel.
16. What is my anticipated assessment?
Although each parcel will vary according to the acreage and the classification, below is a list of the average annual assessment for each land use category.
Agricultural $48.00 Residential $25.00
Industrial $122.00 Public $68.00
Commercial $114.00 Utilities $82.00
17. Are vacant parcels subject to assessment?
Yes, all vacant parcels (residential, agricultural, industrial, and commercial) up to 26.5 acres will be assessed the equivalent of one ERU at an annual rate of $22.75. Vacant parcels with pervious area greater than 26.5 acres will be charged $22.75 plus the rate for the pervious area ($0.86 per acre) in excess of 26.5 acres.
18. Are agricultural parcels subject to assessment?
Yes, all agricultural parcels will be assessed the same way as residential parcels; they will be assessed one ERU plus the remaining non-impervious area of the parcel times the rate for pervious area. The ERU annual rate is $22.75. The pervious area rate is $0.86 per acre.
19. What is an ERU?
An ERU is an Equivalent Residential Unit and is a way of comparing the runoff from the different land use classifications. A sample of the residential properties in the watershed was selected and the impervious area for each was measured to determine the average square footage of impervious area for residential property, this average became one ERU and represents 3,800 square feet. From that point one can determine the number of ERU’s per parcel for each of the remaining Land Use Codes.
20. Why are we assessed again for these projects?
There was an initial one-time assessment to fund the local share of the land rights, property purchased and construction of each of these dam sites. Once the property owner paid their assessment for the capital costs the maintenance assessment remained in place to fund the necessary operations and maintenance of the structures. The proposed maintenance assessment rate is needed to fund the operation, maintenance, and rehabilitation of two dams deemed as Class 1 high-hazard dams by the State and Federal Governments.
21. My parcel straddles the MCCD watershed boundary will I be assessed?
Yes, parcels that straddle the watershed boundary will be assessed based upon the entire parcel area.
22. Does a Homestead Exemption impact my assessment?
No, Homestead Exemptions are not considered in MCCD assessment methodology.
23. Is leased property subject to assessment?
The assessment is placed on parcels of real estate and the payment of the assessment is the responsibility of the parcel owner. Whether or how the assessment is passed from the parcel owner to a lessee is at the discretion of the parcel owner.
24. Are there any plans to take property by eminent domain?
No, there are no plans to acquire any additional lands.
25. How do I check my Assessment?
Once the reappraisal of benefits is completed which will establish a new assessment, property owners can go to the HCD/MCCD website at www.hockingcd.org to see their current and anticipated assessment. Select the MCCD tab, the assessment tab and then the current and projected assessment tab. The assessment will be in a pdf format by numerical order of the parcel number. The property owner will need the parcel identification number of their property to ensure they select the correct parcel in order to review their assessment. You can obtain your parcel ID number at www.athensgis.com auditors data, and conduct a property search.