A property value dispute at Green Circle Growers has set a legal precedent and is now affecting Camden Township property taxes, Lorain County Auditor Craig Snodgrass said.
At a Jan. 25 press conference, Snodgrass explained county property tax bills and changes in home values due to strong sales from 2018 to 2021.
The figures for Camden Township show how the tax burden has shifted from the plant-growing business to township residents, Snodgrass said.
The Green Circle Growers website lists it as one of the largest greenhouses in North America with over 150 acres of indoor growing space.
Green Circle Growers attorney Jonathan T. Brollier of Columbus argued that the greenhouses are personal property not subject to property taxes on his 186-acre site in Camden Township.
Firelands Local Schools and Snodgrass argued that the greenhouses are legal “buildings” and “structures” that should be included in the company’s property assessment for property taxes.
The case went to court.
Last year, the Ohio Ninth District Court of Appeals sided with Green Circle Growers.
The Ohio Supreme Court declined to consider the issue.
Property tax calculations depend on property values, the interior mileage allowed to communities under Ohio law, and the mileage that voters approve, such as levies payable for schools, roads, or police and fire protection.
If and when county property values rise or fall, the inland mileage revenues of townships, villages and cities will also rise or fall, Snodgrass said.
The Camden Township example is directly linked to the court case with Green Circle Growers, he said.
Comparing the interior mileage of Camden Township, residential property values have fallen from a total value of approximately $58.14 million in 2020 to approximately $64.39 million last year.
This would result in a $22,816 increase in property tax revenue for the township, Snodgrass said.
In the rural township of Camden, the total value of residential and farm properties has declined year over year, from around $123.24 million in 2020 to $93.35 million for 2021, according to figures from the ‘listener.
When farm property values are included in the formula — or subtracted in the case of Green Circle Growers — Camden Township’s property tax revenue rises from $250,700 in 2020 to $189,495 for 2021, figures show. of the auditor.
“That’s an $83,000 swing,” for the township, Snograss said. “What happened in Camden Township to drive down farm values…by $29 million?
“It’s a great example of what happens when values fall.”
Snodgrass and his team noted that there have been changes in Ohio law regarding property values based on soil types.
But these differences are not large enough to explain all the changes in Camden Township.
County auditors are preparing a brief to present to state lawmakers to change Ohio’s taxable structures law, Snodgrass said.
“The taxpayer over there (Green Circle Growers) successfully challenged the law,” he said. “I don’t believe it was the intention of the legislators at the time to raise everyone’s taxes, and I hope it’s not the intention of current legislators to raise everyone’s taxes. everybody.
“It’s going to increase everyone’s taxes, this decision.”
Snodgrass added that he was aware of a complaint filed by a greenhouse with the Cuyahoga County Board of Review.
“I see other companies that are going to file and it could have a major impact on this county and that’s where it’s going to impact all the other counties,” he said.
The ruling could extend to structures, so owners of things like storage units, car washes or warehouses could argue that their buildings shouldn’t count toward property tax values.
In Lorain County alone, those structures are valued at $350 million, Snodgrass said.
“It’s going to impact everyone,” he said. “We’re not doing enough for homeowners, we’re not doing enough for individual taxpayers.
“I see that, it’s wrong and you’re shifting the burden onto the owners. Taxpayers are soaked, they are taken advantage of and we have to stop this.