Peter ZawadskiApril 21, 2022 

Since 1976, Ohio law has allowed school districts to file complaints with county boards of revision when they believe properties are undervalued. The law also gave school districts meaningful opportunities to contest attempts by property owners to lower their property values. All of that changes now with Governor DeWine signing controversial House Bill 126 into law.

The law brings about sweeping changes to property valuation appeals. Beginning with the 2022-2023 tax year, school districts will be hamstringed when it comes to scrutinizing requests brought by commercial property owners to lower their property values. Worsening matters, HB 126 also constrains school districts by restricting their ability to file original complaints that could counter efforts to erode a district’s tax base. School districts will also be shouldering new administrative burdens as they proceed in the board of revision process.

Some of the changes in HB 126 include the following:

  • School districts are prohibited from appealing county board of revision decisions to the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals.
  • Districts can only initiate property value complaints after a property was sold in the year before the tax year for which the complaint was filed and when the property’s sale price is $500,000 and at least 10% percent more than the county auditor’s value.
  • School boards must pass resolutions for each parcel to be filed on and issue notice to the owner’s tax address and mailing address.
  • School boards must notify property owners at least seven days before they intend to vote on a resolution authorizing a valuation challenge.
  • School districts cannot file complaints on residential and agricultural lands.
  • School districts are no longer automatically notified by the county of complaints filed by property owners. Yet the law still requires that district counter-complaints be filed within 30 days of the date the owner files the original complaint. In contrast, property owners will still receive notice of district-initiated complaints and have 30 days from receiving the notice to file counter-complaints.
  • Prohibits school districts from participating in private-pay settlement agreements.

While commercial property owners reap the benefits, it is expected that school districts and residential property owners will need to shoulder the burdens that come with off-setting the losses. District treasurers will need to re-group to determine a strategic approach to tackle the effects. No doubt having a presence at board of revision proceedings will be helpful to observe how proceedings unfold and to ensure valuation changes remain open and fair. Attorneys at Walter | Haverfield are here to assist and advise on new approaches to overcome obstacles brought on by HB 126. HB 126 is available here for review.

Peter Zawadski is a partner at Walter | Haverfield who focuses his practice on education law and labor and employment law. He can be reached at pzawadski@walterhav.com or at 216-928-2920.