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Ohio schools challenge property values to boost their short-term tax take

By   /   June 7, 2013  /   2 Comments

By Maggie Thurber | for Ohio Watchdog

Jasin-Hoening Funeral Home faced increased taxes when Toledo Public Schools challenged the value of their property - and won.

Jasin-Hoening Funeral Home faced increased taxes when Toledo Public Schools challenged the value of their property – and won.

David R. Jasin Funeral Home has been a fixture in the Point Place community of Toledo since 1958. It has been the preferred choice of families in the Point for generations.

In 2009, the Jasin family sold the business to Terry and Barbara Hoening, and it became the David R. Jasin-Hoening Funeral Home.

But the name wasn’t the only thing that changed with the sale of the property. Their property taxes took a huge jump as well.

The funeral home is in the Toledo Public School‘s jurisdiction. Based on the sale price of the property, the school district, through its attorney, Michael Bragg, challenged the value of the property and asked the county to increase the valuation to grab more funding, via the property taxes, for the district.

Most Ohio property owners know that they can request a review of their property valuation, usually hoping to decrease the amount. When a property owner requests a valuation that is $50,000 or more lower than the existing one, the law requires notification to the local school district so it can participate or object to the request.

But very few people are aware the law also allows school districts to challenge low valuations and ask that they be raised. This usually happens when a property is sold, as the Hoenings discovered, and most often with commercial, rather than residential, properties.

Based on the complaint against the Hoenings, a hearing on the TPS request was conducted by the county Board of Revision. The BOR, composed of the county auditor, county treasurer and one county commissioner, decided the sale price of $755,000 for the four parcels associated with the property reflected the true market value. So they increased the valuation and charged the Hoenings more than $3,000 in additional taxes.

Except that wasn’t the end.

In 2012, the county auditor conducted the mandatory triennial review and the funeral home property was valued at just over $642,700 — only $25,000 more than before it was sold, but $88,000 more than the BOR had determined.

With the revised valuation, the property taxes were reduced. If the Hoenings hadn’t done some new construction on one of the parcels, the difference between the 2012 revaluation taxes and the original taxes would have been about $1,300 more.

Because of the timing of the BOR challenge and the triennial review, TPS, which accounts for about 68 percent of the total property tax, only received about $2,100 more in taxes as a result of their challenge.

How much taxpayer money it cost to collect the additional $2,100 is unknown. TPS was unable to respond on Friday.

Sen. Bill Coley's amendment would have ended a school district's ability to challenge property tax valuations.

Sen. Bill Coley’s amendment would have ended a school district’s ability to challenge property tax valuations.

State Sen. Bill Coley, R-West Chester, isn’t happy with the idea of schools challenging their constituents, so last week he added an amendment to H.B 59, the state’s two-year budget bill.  His amendment would have ended the ability of school districts, municipalities and townships to file property tax complaints on other people’s property.

While they would still be allowed to object to a request to lower valuations, only the property owner, their agent or the county recorder could have initiated a challenge to the valuation.

The Ohio Association of School Business Officials opposed the amendment, as did some members of the General Assembly.  Schools have said in the past that they just want to ensure fair market value is reflected in the auditor’s property valuations.

But Coley told the Columbus Dispatch that was nonsense.

“They’re concerned about a short-term gain in money,” he said.

At the urging of Sen. Jim Hughes, R-Columbus, the Senate on Wednesday removed the amendment from the bill, leaving schools and local governments with the ability to continue asking for increased valuations – and increased taxes as a result.

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  • Dotto

    This info needs to get out to all the angry taxpayers in all 88 school districts!

  • Dotto

    btw, Maggie., Miss you on WSPD