EAST LIVERPOOL - The city school board took steps Monday night aimed at protecting the district's finances, both on a local and state level.
By a vote of 4-1, the board authorized Treasure Todd Puster to retain legal counsel to file an appeal with the county Board of Revisions in response to claims filed by property owners seeking to decrease the taxable value of their properties.
Those property owners who have sought such a decrease are Tom Wycoff, East Liverpool Motor Lodge, seeking a valuation decrease of $500,300, which would mean a reduction in taxes of $5,717; Ogden News Publishing, The Review, valuation decrease of $372,900 for a tax reduction of $4,261; Tony Struyk, Dollar General, valuation decrease of $261,700, tax reduction of $2,900; and Asset 20024, LLC, U.S. Post Office, $212,200 valuation decrease, $2,423 tax reduction.
Ogden News Publishing also owns the Morning Journal.
Puster was authorized to retain legal counsel if he determines it's in the best interest of the board to do so.
Board member Scott Dieringer voted against the measure, offering no reason.
Although board member Richard Wolf said he would not support sending legal counsel when Puster or Superintendent James Herring could plead the district's case, Puster advised that laws have changed and now require legal counsel.
"We have to vigorously resist this," Wolf said, saying that when the East Liverpool Motor Lodge was built, its estimated value was $3 million and not only did the city annex the property in, it gave the then-owners water, sewer and tax abatements for 15 years, followed by a reduction of one-third its value.
"And now they're asking for more reductions," he protested.
In the case of Ogden News Publishing, Wolf said it would seem property values would have increased due to the improvements done to that area by Kent State University, including demolition of some unsightly structures.
The board also voted, this time unanimously, for a resolution opposing the provisions of House Bill 59 that would provide private and parochial school tuition vouchers to kindergarten students this year, followed next year by the addition of first graders, for a total of $25 million over the biennium.
The second voucher proposed by Gov. John Kasich would also offer EdChoice vouchers to students enrolled in schools that fail to meet the Third Grade Reading Guarantee for two successive years.
The resolution noted that these proposals would "effectively reduce funds from the already financially beleaguered local public school districts, resulting in fewer resources for the education of remaining students."
Wolf said, "John Kasich ought to hang his head in shame," and board member Larry Walton said, "They are chipping away at us."