By Benjamin G. Chojnacki and Stephen L. Byron.andnbsp;

On January 26, 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court decided State ex rel. Cornerstone Developers, Ltd. v. Greene Cty. Bd. of Elections,
Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-313. In the case, the Court ordered the
Greene County Board of Elections to remove a tax levy from the March
2016 ballot because the Sugarcreek Township Board of Trustees failed to
follow the statutory procedure for placing the question of a tax levy on
the ballot.

Chapter 5705 of the Ohio Revised Code establishes
the procedure for placing a statutory tax levy on the ballot. First, a
taxing authority must pass a “Resolution of Necessity” asking the county
auditor to certify the current tax valuation of the political
subdivision. After receiving the auditor’s certification, a taxing
authority must pass a separate “Resolution to Proceed” submitting the
question of the tax to the voters. The taxing authority must certify the
“Resolution to Proceed” to the county board of elections at least
ninety (90) days prior to an election.

Instead of following the
statutory procedure, Sugarcreek Township’s Board of Trustees passed
legislation making a finding that the taxes that ‘may be raised within
the 10 mill limitation will be insufficient’ and declared the necessity
for an additional levy. The Trustees transmitted this legislation to the
county board of elections and the tax levy was placed on the ballot.

Cornerstone
Developers challenged the tax levy’s placement on the ballot because
the Board of Trustees failed to pass a Resolution to Proceed and failed
to certify such resolution to the county board of elections at least
ninety days prior to the election. The Ohio Supreme Court recognized
this to be a fatal flaw, and ordered the tax levy removed from the March
2016 ballot.

Cornerstone Developers
is significant because it demonstrates that omnibus tax levy
legislation is insufficient to satisfy Chapter 5705. Instead, a taxing
authority must pass both a “Resolution of Necessity” and a “Resolution
to Proceed,” then timely certify the “Resolution to Proceed” to the
county board of elections at least ninety (90) days prior to the
election.

If you have questions about Cornerstone Developers,
or any other public law matters, please contact Benjamin G. Chojnacki,
Stephen L. Byron or any of the attorneys in Walter | Haverfield’s Public
Law Group.