CACHE, Okla. (KFOR) – Community leaders in the town of Cache are reeling after a $51 million clerical error.
Cache Public Schools Superintendent Chad Hance sent a letter to families and employees to alert them of the clerical error.
Each year, the county assessor’s office determines the value of property in each school district, which then calculates the funding for the local schools.
“Recently, County Assessor Grant Edwards notified Cache Public Schools that a mistake was made in the figures that were gathered, certified by the county excise board, and reported by his staff for the 2021 tax year,” Hance’s letter read.
Officials learned that a clerical error inadvertently increased the community’s valuation by $51 million.
“The county assessor’s office made the mistake in March 2021 but it was not reported to Cache district officials until late June 2022,” the letter continued.
As a result, district leaders say it is going to have a negative impact on the schools.
Officials say Cache Public Schools collected $700,000 less than what it needed to make this year’s bond debt payment.
They say property taxes for residents who live in the Cache district will likely increase around 15% this December. And residents can expect another jump in property taxes next year due to a 2022 bond election that was approved in May.
“The issuance of the general obligation bond was done prior to any knowledge of the county assessor’s clerical error,” the letter read.
District leaders say the district’s general fund, which is used to pay most expenses, will also be reduced by $2 million. As a result, they say parents can expect larger class sizes as the district will be forced to make ‘difficult decisions.’
The district’s building fund will also be reduced by $300,000.
Comanche County Assessor Grant Edwards released the following statement about the situation:
“As the Comanche County Assessor and behalf of our entire team, I want to apologize for the Goodyear valuation error that was made in 2021. I agree with the statement from Cache’s Superintendent, Chad Hance, that transparency is extremely important, and I want to provide more information about when and how the error occurred, what has been done to correct it, and what we are doing to prevent something like this moving forward.
In March of 2021, Goodyear provided several valuation numbers to our office. When a Deputy Assessor input the data into our system, a clerical error was made that resulted in a decrease in tax revenue of $3,334,588. The rest of the deficit mentioned by Mr. Hance came from three of Goodyear’s exemptions that the Oklahoma Tax Commission did not allow that were unrelated to the clerical error.
More than a year passed before the error was caught and brought to our attention on June 22, 2022 by Goodyear’s accounting firm. Over the course of that year, there was some communication back and forth between our office and the Oklahoma Tax Commission about removing and reinstating Goodyear’s exemptions, but nothing about the valuation was discussed and we were not aware of the error until a few weeks ago.
The property valuation process involves many different entities and requires great attention to detail, and we take the responsibility of our role very seriously. I want to express my deepest apologies to everyone impacted by our error, and I know the timing of this is especially bad with the current inflation environment and the increase in taxes from the recently passed bond issues. To better understand how this could impact your property taxes in the Cache school district (if they do go up 15% as Superintendent Hance estimated) that would be approximately $157 on a $100,000 home.
It’s unfathomable that one simple clerical error could cause a situation like this and be overlooked for so long, but that’s the reality of the situation, and I am so sorry to everyone. My team and I have met and implemented several new due diligence steps to prevent anything like this from happening again. If anyone would like more information about this situation or the error itself, please feel free to contact my office or come by.”Comanche County Assessor Grant Edwards