(Posted Oct. 12, 2016)
By Linda Dillman, Staff Writer
Jefferson Local Schools Superintendent William Mullett hopes the end is in sight for a legal case disputing a tax reduction requested by Jefferson Industries.
At the Oct. 10 school board meeting, Mullett said the district “finally got a long awaited decision from the Ohio Supreme Court.”
The Supreme Court vacated the case to the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals for reconsideration, after making two rulings in favor of the board, which Mullett termed significant legal hurdles.
“It is our hope the Board of Tax Appeals will look at the information in a different way and will rule in our favor,” Mullett said.
The case started three years ago when Jefferson Industries filed a complaint with the Madison County Board of Revision to have its property value reduced from $34.5 million to $18 million.
Because such a large reduction in property value would significantly impact tax revenues for the school district, the school district filed a counter-complaint asking that the county leave Jefferson Industries’ value unchanged at $34.5 million.
According to Mullett, on the day of the hearing with the county tax board, the company asked to lower its property value even more to $10.4 million.
“At the time that this complaint was filed, Jefferson Industries’ property was a 685,000 square-foot building—a 685,000 square-foot world class automobile manufacturing stamping facility.
“The property is prime real estate, located in what has been referred to as the ‘Golden Triangle’ in Madison County. Jefferson Industries has also enjoyed many tax breaks over the years for building and operating in this area, including a 10-year tax break with us.”
During the 2012 hearing, Mullett reported the county reduced the company’s property valuation from $34.5 million to $28 million, resulting in a potential refund of $70,000 from the school district to Jefferson Industries. While unhappy with the decision, the district accepted the ruling and was prepared to move on.
Shortly after the hearing, however, Jefferson Industries filed an appeal to the state tax board to re-value its property at $10.4 million. The county and the state reviewed the property and came to the same $28 million conclusion. Dissatisfied with the ruling, Jefferson Industries filed the appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court, Mullett said.
According to Mullett, in 2006, Jefferson Industries filed a similar property valu-ation complaint.
“The Ohio Board of Tax Appeals ruled against Jefferson Industries in that case as well, finding the value of the world-class manufacturing facility was significantly higher than the value claimed by Jefferson Industries.”
From the district’s perspective, if the company had won its third appeal with the Supreme Court, Jefferson Local Schools would be required to write a $700,000 check to the company for tax years 2011-2013, an action Mullett called devastating to the district.