Another Stab at Reforming Excessive Real Estate Counter-Complaints

Over time, there has been a growing problem in the state concerning real estate values. Many governmental entities, particularly school boards, have hired a small group of law firms to increase values on many properties, primarily commercial and industrial. When a property’s value is clearly higher than what is assessed, that’s appropriate. The problem here is that a wide net is being thrown by the law firms in the hope that there are some increases, rather than making counter-complaints on properties clearly under assessed. This most often happens in suburban and urban areas of the state.

There are those that believe practices like this that increase the workload needlessly are a part of the reason the direct appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court from the Board of Tax Appeals was removed.

In an effort to resolve the issue, there have been numerous bills and budget attempts. The proposed solutions have included blocking anyone from appealing except the owner. Another effort would have required the loser to pay the costs. A third would have allowed only the owner and the county recorder to file. Among the others were some that included several of the options.

The latest is HB 343, an effort sponsored by Representative Merrin that is currently being heard in the House Ways & Means Committee. It simply would require the taxing entity to pass a resolution on each property that it wished to contest the value of. This would hinder the law firm’s efforts to file hundreds of complaints without the leaders of the entity being involved in the process to much of a degree. By requiring active participation, the leaders would be more answerable to their constituents without giving up any of their rights at fair valuation.

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce testimony on this bill shows our belief in fair and equitable processes of valuing all properties for all parties. We agree that HB 343 would create a better balance and bring a better government process to Ohio’s citizens.