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Ohio Bill Could Ban Schools from Challenging Assessed Values

by Morgan Thomas, Chicago, August 2015

 

Legislation has been introduced to prohibit Ohio school districts and other governmental units from challenging property tax valuations believed to be too low.

 

Most property owners know that they can request a review of their property valuation, usually hoping to decrease the amount. Taxpayers may not be 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 and most often with commercial, rather than residential properties.


SB 85

 

Senator Bill Coley, sponsor of Senate Bill 85, said, "This legislation simply seeks to bring fairness to the process of establishing property values."

 

Schools are using tax dollars to pay for the attorneys who file the property tax complaints. "It's better to wait for the auditor's office to do their job. If the schools go in early, they're just racking up legal bills for everybody," Coley said.


Schools Object


SB 85 contains the same language as another bill that never made it out of committee in 2013. In the past legislative session, Barbara Shaner, associate executive director for the Ohio Association of School Business Officials testified against the proposal on behalf of the Ohio School Boards Association. She says the groups still oppose the idea.

 

"We think districts should have the opportunity to challenge property values that are considered to be undervalued because they provide a check and balance system for the district as a whole," she said. "Property owners should be able to challenge a value that is too high. We don't object to that, but we think there ought to be a balance on the other side as well."

 

SB 85 was referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. More hearings are expected on the proposal when the Senate returns from its summer break in September.