MOUNT VERNON — Thirty property owners in the Mount Vernon City School District will have property valuations re-examined by the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals because the school district is appealing approved changes in order to recoup taxes on the higher value of the property.
“Our goal as a district is to make sure every taxpayer is paying their fair share,” said Barb Donohue, treasurer for the Mount Vernon school district. “My job is to be fiscally responsible. [Property] taxes are the biggest part of our financial pot.”
According to Knox County Auditor Jonette Curry, school districts have two opportunities when it comes to property values. If the market value on a property changes by more than $50,000, the auditor’s office is required to inform the district, which can then file a counter complaint. Districts can also file an original complaint for an arm’s length sale that includes a willing seller and buyer where the sale price is substantially higher than was appraised.
“Mount Vernon filed original complaints on 34 properties that were recently heard by our Board of Revision, which makes final recommendation of value,” Curry said. “Typically the board [of revision] does not revise values unless there is a clerical error.”
After a Board of Revision makes its ruling, the school district has the right to appeal to either the Knox County Common Pleas Court or the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals, Curry said. Mount Vernon has filed for appeal to the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals for 30 of the 34 complaints from 2009.
“The district looks at commercial or income-producing properties, or those sold as arm’s length sale,” Donohue said.
Income producing property could mean rental or agricultural parcels, she said.
A third party keeps track of property sales as well as any property re-evaluations, according to Donohue. The third party takes a share of any recouped property tax so the process, she said, does not cost the district any money.
According to information provided by Curry, the district stands to gain at least $40,000 if the district wins its appeal on all 30 properties.
“We could gain as much as $250,000 between now and 2011 through appeals,” Donohue said.
The next set of countywide property appraisals is set for 2011.
The taxpayers affected recently received a letter from Curry stating the school district’s decision to appeal and explaining the processes to property owners.
“… this means the Knox County Auditor will be defending the lower value assigned to your property against the Board of Education. The Knox County Auditor will argue before the Board of Tax Appeals that the value of your property should remain at its current estimate, instead of increasing,” Curry said in her letter dated Oct. 28.
In preparation for its defense, Curry and her staff will prepare transcripts from the Board of Revisions hearing.
“The appeal process is likely to move slowly, and your appeal may not be heard for several months or years,” Curry’s letter stated.
Taxpayers will continue to pay taxes based on the recently lowered valuation. However, Curry warned property owners that if the appeals processes falls in favor of the school district, they would be responsible to pay back taxes as far back as 2008.