Wellston City Schools Superintendent Karen Boch has released a statement in the wake of a recent news article in The Telegram which pertained to events from the July meeting of the Wellston City Schools Board of Education.
Specifically, Boch's statement relates to information provided to local media outlets and members of the school board during the Monday, July 10 meeting by Wellston Mayor Connie Pelletier and Landmark Properties Group LLC President Kevin Ross.
That information was in reference to Ross's company's purchase of the former Penn's Warehouse property in Wellston at auction in August of 2015. Following the purchase, Ross and his company began to seek a lower real estate tax value for the property, which then stood at over $500,000. During what he describes as a "lengthy and expensive" tax-appeal process, in which the opposing attorney was representing the Wellston City School District, Ross's company lost his first appeal and the school district is disputing the legality of a second filing.
According to the information Ross presented during the aforementioned board meeting, his company has been planning to build its third Triple Crown facility in either Jackson County or Athens County, as the group felt "there was a need for such a facility" in the area. He said such an addition would "be a tremendous benefit to the local economy" which could potentially bring up to 50 jobs, numerous visitors, entertainment and sports activities, and two food franchises to the area.
Before this article was put in print, The Telegram afforded Boch the opportunity to make a statement of her own. However, as she had to consult with the district's attorneys before doing so, that comment was not able to be released prior to the article running in the Wednesday, July 12 issue of The Telegram.
Boch's statement has now been received and reads as follows:
"The Board of Education of the Wellston City School District was pleased to see its June 10, 2017 meeting covered so thoughtfully in Phillip Buffington's recent article. The article accurately characterized the tension, seen throughout the state, between the need to provide funding for school districts from local property taxes, and the countervailing interests that some cities and property owners assert when they attempt to reduce commercial properties' values in the hope of spurring business development. Unfortunately, when those efforts to reduce property value succeed, they deprive local school districts of much-needed revenue.
"In regard to the specific case that the WCS Board of Education had the opportunity to consider during its recent meeting, the article correctly noted that the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals recently ruled in the District's favor in an appeal that Landmark Properties LLC filed. The Board of Tax Appeals rejected Landmark's appraisal, rejected its untimely attempts to bring evidence forward on appeal that it had neglected to submit to the County Board of Revision, and therefore retained the County Auditor's correct valuation of Landmark's property. In short, an independent state body charged with determining property values held that the School District's position in that appeal was correct.
"In regard to the second case that Landmark recently filed, Wellston City Schools maintains that Ohio law prohibited Landmark from making that second filing. Wellston City Schools may choose to appeal the County Board of Revision's decision to reduce Landmark's property value, but all options remain on the table.
"Wellston City Schools welcome the dialogue that this article provided, and encourage readers to remember that the School District's role in tax appeals like these is to look out for the interests of all taxpayers and constituents of the District, and not to pick particular property owners for different or better treatment."