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County to pay Oakhill tax bill



Published: Fri, December 17, 2010 @ 12:08 a.m.

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Oakhill Renaissance Place

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Mahoning County Commissioner John McNally

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Mahoning County Commissioner Anthony Traficanti

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Dave Ludt

Liabilities total $565K

By Peter H. Milliken

milliken@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Mahoning County Commissioner John A. McNally IV had warned his colleagues they could not escape Oakhill Renaissance Place’s tax liabilities.

His warning came true Thursday. The commissioners unanimously agreed to pay $565,125 in back real-estate taxes and interest on the facility.

McNally and Commissioners Anthony T. Traficanti and David N. Ludt voted to pay the money in 10 installments over the next five years.

“Finally, we’ve come to the realization here in Mahoning County that we are responsible for those back property taxes. We’ve been trying to dodge that responsibility for four years,” McNally said after the vote.

“It’s sort of a Merry Christmas to the county treasurer to begin collecting those taxes and getting those monies out to the school boards” and other public entities that will receive the proceeds, McNally added.

The taxes are for the period when Southside Community Development Corp. owned Oak-hill before the county bought the former hospital in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, paying $75,000 for the complex but assuming all its liens and encumbrances.

SCDC filed for Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy in 2006.

The Ohio Board of Tax Appeals last May upheld a ruling by William Wilkins, state tax commissioner, that Oakhill didn’t qualify for a real-estate-tax exemption under SCDC because “the property was not used exclusively for a charitable purpose.”

McNally said he believes no real-estate taxes apply to Oakhill after the county bought it in July 2006.

“We continue to hope and work toward what we call amnesty legislation in Columbus,” that could absolve the county of responsibility for Oakhill’s back taxes, said Atty. Raymond D. Anderson, of the Vorys law firm in Columbus, which has been handling this issue for the county.

Anderson noted that legislation has been adopted to grant tax amnesty to the former Lazarus department store in downtown Columbus, which is now owned by the Columbus Downtown Development Corp. and occupied by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies.

Oakhill is the former Forum Health Southside Medical Center, which now houses the county’s Department of Job and Family Services, Veterans’ Service Commission and coroner’s office, the city health department and the Mahoning-Youngstown Community Action Partnership.

The county is in the process of moving more agencies to Oakhill from its South Side Annex on Market Street, including the recycling division, board of elections and auto title department.

McNally, county Auditor Michael V. Sciortino and former county Treasurer John B. Reardon, opposed the county’s purchase of Oakhill, citing unknown costs to acquire, repair, renovate and operate the complex.

All three are now under indictment for allegedly conspiring with the Cafaro Co. to impede the move of the county’s Department of Job and Family Services from Cafaro Co.-owned rented quarters on the city’s East Side to Oakhill. JFS moved to Oakhill in July 2007.

The commissioners also approved a concessionary labor agreement ratified Tuesday by the sheriff’s department’s gold unit, which consists of captains, lieutenants and sergeants belonging to Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 141.

The 28-member gold unit approved an 18-month agreement retroactive to July 1, accepting a pay freeze and elimination of uniform allowances and longevity pay, as did the blue unit, which represents nonranking deputies. Additionally, gold-unit members agreed to a ban on overtime.

The sheriff, who earlier had proposed to lay off 14 deputies Dec. 26, said the gold unit’s vote to ratify the agreement makes layoffs unlikely.

The county will spend $16.2 million this year to operate the sheriff’s department.

“It’s expected next year that appropriations to maintain the same level of service will be somewhere around $13.5 million,” observed George J. Tablack, county administrator and budget director.

The county commissioners have not yet adopted a 2011 budget.

As effects of the economic recession linger, the county budget commission has projected next year’s general-fund revenues at $51,412,860, compared to $53,094,744 this year.


Comments

1exposed(66 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Whenver there is negative news the Vindicator conveniently forgets to quote Traficanti. Don't want to associate him with the fact that the taxpayers got stuck for all this money. But when there is an issue to demagogue we hear words like unconscionable from Traficanti like when CSB wanted to use their own money to implement 2 year old raises of $900. Lets hear from him on this and how well Oak Hill is working out for all of us.

And how much has this Columbus law firm been paid to hack away at this back taxes issue for years? Isn't this the same law firm Gains wanted to hire not long ago that wanted $500 an hour and $50,000 for a simple case?

It would be interesting the next time these two run again if this firm is a big contributor to their campaigns. Ludt was given the boot. 2012 can't come soon enough.

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2author50(1121 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Tablacak, Traficanti, Ludt and Gains should have to reimburse the taxpayers for the interest and penalities. They said numerous times that the taxes at Oakhill would be zero.

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3palbubba(662 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Hear that flushing sound? It's more tax payer dollars being flushed down the drain for not only taxes but the bill to pay this high priced law firm to accomplish exactly nothing. These brainiacs that keep getting elected to office continue to be endorsed by the do nothing Vindy which I'm sure will never take the time to publish what this law firm was paid to accomplish nothing. Nice job commissioners and your own personal lap dog the Vindy. (This is sarcasm for those of you that voted for these brainiacs)

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4spinman(70 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Maybe they should take the monies out of Tablack's overblown salary.

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5Cassie(88 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

The whole issue of the relocation of DHS to the Garland Avenue facility will probably never be known by the taxpayers of Mahoning County. The incredible "sweetheart" contract with the Cafaros (who can blame them, they are businessmen?), the absolute failure of the county to maintain the facility, which was completely remodeled and updated by Cafaros before the move, the later move of CSEA, which was jammed into the then totally trashed facility and the subsequent almost million dollars in damages the county had to pay for its malfeasance in not maintaining the building according to their contract--just the total mess which is so typical of Mahoning County politicians and which the Vindicator sugar coated until the latest fiasco--the filing of charges against those who opposed the OakHill purchase. What next in the Mahoning County Zoo?

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6unhappyvoter1(87 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

first of all (WHY DOES THE MONEY ALWAYS COME FROM JOB AND FAMILY SERVICES TO PAY THINGS BACK FROM. ISN'T THAT STATE AND FEDERAL MONEY THAT SHOULD BE FOR EMPLOYEE FEES AND THE POOR PEOPLE WHO NEED SERVICES. SHAME ON ALL OF YOU INVOLVED HOW YOU JUST SUCK THE DEPARTMENTS OF JOB AND FAMILY SERVICES DRY. NO MONEY LEFT TO TAKE FROM ODJFS SO NOW YOU LAY OFF ALL THE PEOPLE THAT ARE HARD WORKERS. SHAME ON YOU AND YOUR DAY WILL COME.

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7coupie(21 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Exposed, you painted the picture perfect...This is what it is all about, downing county workers who can DAMN near claim welfare benefits for their families because they are paid so low get called out to be "unconscionable" but the commissoners can do dirt that is so grimey it is ridicoulous. To give the CSB workers $110,000 for their raise for 115 employees (less than 1% of a 1.75 million levy) or pay out how many hundred thousand to million dollars for the commissoners misjudgments in the oak hill deal, wth??

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8southsidedave(4709 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Very nice indeed!

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