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Copley gets unpleasant surprise with property tax settlement

5/9/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Pam Lifke

Copley Township got a rude surprise with its recent property tax settlement from Summit County.

Fiscal Officer Janice Marshall, at the May 1 Copley Board of Trustees meeting, reported the property tax settlement was $206,000 less than anticipated. Property taxes are the primary funding source for general operation of the township, according to township officials.

Marshall said the amount was deducted from the anticipated revenue so refunds could be paid to property owners who contested property values and won appeals for lower valuations. The $206,000 was for refunds granted to property owners who made appeals from 2009 to 2011, Marshall said.

The amount represents 5.3 percent of property taxes the township is expected to receive this year, Marshall said. The county is “way behind” in hearing appeals, and Marshall said she expects more refunds will be paid and the amount deducted from future property tax settlements. [Editor’s note: According to Summit County Fiscal Officer Kristen Scalise, the state of Ohio is the entity responsible for processing the appeals, not the county.]

Good planning, however, should allow the township to maintain its services, Marshall said.

“Fortunately, we always back out 15 percent” of the amount the county certifies the township should receive each year, she said. However, Marshall said she will evaluate the township’s position after completing the April financial report.

Marshall said the county routinely notifies school districts when property values are appealed, allowing the district to prepare and to present information at the appeal hearing. Townships, however, get no such notice, she said. Trustees briefly discussed asking the school district to share notifications with the township so it could send a representative to the appeal hearings.

Also during the meeting, trustees gathered information on benefits and costs of a watershed conservancy as they continue to seek ways to abate flooding in the township. James Rozelle, of Storm Water Engineering, gave trustees a brief history of Ohio’s conservancy district law and walked them through the steps to forming a conservancy.

Rozelle told trustees townships can form stand-alone conservancies or join another existing conservancy. Conservancies, which are funded by assessments to landowners, are formed to prevent flooding, regulate streams, reclaim land and provide water sources, among other uses, Rozelle said. Should a Wolf Creek Watershed Conservancy be formed, he said, it would encompass 77 square miles surrounding Wolf, Hudson and Pigeon creeks and affect more than 42,000 parcels of land.

In other business, Planning Director Matt Springer reported the demolition of seven condemned structures on Copley and Kibler roads will begin at the end of May. Trustees earlier approved a contract with Bennett Construction for asbestos removal and demolition of the structures. The project costs will be offset by a Moving Ohio Forward grant to demolish blighted structures. Property owners also will be assessed for demolition costs.

Trustees also gave the go-ahead to Eagle Scout candidate Manuel Bloch for a project to refurbish the landing and sign at the Copley Depot. Bloch plans to build a 5-by-4-foot landing with one step at the Depot entrance. The landing will be constructed of synthetic and treated lumber, and Bloch estimates the project, including repainting the sign, will cost $800. Anyone wishing to contribute to the project can send a donation to Bloch in care of Bloch Printing, 3569 Copley Road, Copley, OH 44321.

In other action, trustees:

  • made a conditional offer of employment to Karen Gregorcik as dispatch manager for the Southwest Summit Communications (SWSCOM) Center at a salary of $58,000 per year;
  • approved a $10,000 purchase order to ISG Consulting to test candidates for fire captain;
  • appointed Richard Veiring to fill an unexpired term as Zoning Commission alternate. His term will end Dec. 31, 2014;
  • approved notifying the Summit County Emergency Management Agency the township intends to move its emergency dispatch July 1 to SWSCOM;
  • approved training for Fire Department personnel; and
  • approved offering to sell a 2001 Pierce rescue truck to Summit County for $135,000. The township Fire Department no longer uses the vehicle.

The Copley Township Board of Trustees’ next regular meeting will take place May 15 at 6 p.m. at the Copley Township offices, located at 1540 S. Cleveland-Massillon Road.

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