With so many properties in Hillsboro recently being condemned, how will this impact the property tax revenues for the county?

Will there be new appraisals on each condemned property? If so, when?

Will those properties go to a zero tax during the period of time that they are condemned?

Will the taxes and upkeep of any and all condemned properties automatically become the responsibility of the city of Hillsboro since the respective property owners are prohibited from entering the buildings?

Is the city enforcing the existing orders placed on condemned buildings, or have there been some instances of condemned buildings being accessed without penalty or prosecution? Have any such warnings been issued by law enforcement?

There are a number of properties in the city limits with new fishy – that is, salmon-colored signs – that read: “This building is unfit for human habitation; the use or occupancy of this building for human habitation is prohibited and unlawful.”

Since numerous Hillsboro buildings and properties are now condemned, what are the short-term – and long-term – assurances for owners and taxpayers of properties adjacent to those now condemned? Obviously, their property values will be in at least temporary decline, as witnessed by a recently purported $4,000 bid on a condemned property that the county valued at more than $100,000. This brings to mind another question: Is the county auditor looking for a new appraiser in light of all the condemnations? The city and the county clearly have extremely different views on the worth of these properties.

Who will ultimately pay for the possible demolition and restoration of these condemned properties? From where will those funds be derived?

The now partially collapsed building at 119 West Main Street has an appraised value of $100,200, according to Highland County Auditor Bill Fawley’s website.

Does this appraised value automatically reduce after the building collapsed? Will the former owners – or the highest bidder at the recent auction of the property – receive a tax break now?

Let’s look at a few other condemned buildings – just in the historic uptown district.

According to the county auditor’s website at http://www.highlandcountyauditor.org/:

• The condemned building at 125 West Main has an appraised value of $70,100;

• The condemned building at 127 West Main has an appraised value of $63,000;

• The condemned building at 129 West Main has an appraised value of $62,700;

• The condemned building at 131 West Main has an appraised value of $82,200;

• The condemned building at 133 West Main has an appraised value of $79,300; and,

• The condemned building at 137 West Main has an appraised value of $56,500.

That’s more than half a million dollars of appraised value on just seven recently condemned properties in less than half of a city block. There are other condemned properties around town, too.

On June 7, I asked the county auditor how this process might work with so many condemned properties.

Mr. Fawley responded that he has spoken with “our appraisal company to establish a plan of action. Obviously, (we) never had this before. None of the property owners have contacted us nor filed an appeal.”

Come tax time, I suspect that may change.

Given the fact that the owners of these condemned properties are being informed they are violating the law if they return to their respective properties, it would stand to reason that the public entity which condemned all of the properties has the immediate and long-range answers.

Time will tell.

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Strickland makes a valid
point on House Bill 6

Former Ohio Gov. (and Congressman) Ted Strickland was in the news this weekend, talking about Ohio House Bill 6.

In a Toledo Blade story by Jim Provance (https://www.toledoblade.com/local/environment/2019/06/09/former-governor-ted-strickland-frustrated-to-see-ohio-dumping-renewable-energy-goals/stories/20190606150), Strickland discussed the Ohio Republican-led General Assembly’s Senate Bill 221, which he signed into law in May 2008.

The Ohio Senate passed S.B. 221 by a vote of 32-0 on Oct. 31, 2007. The Ohio House modified the bill and passed it by a vote of 93-1 on April 22, 2008. The following day, the Senate voted unanimously to concur with the House changes and sent the bill to Gov. Strickland.

In 2008, both the Ohio House and Ohio Senate were controlled by Republicans.

Senate Bill 221 included a provision (mandate) for renewable energy and efficiency standards. Since Ohio lawmakers (mostly Republican) in 2008 voted, 125-1, for SB 221, why are Ohio Republican lawmakers in 2019 wanting to end the renewable energy and efficiency standards in order to provide a bailout for FirstEnergy?

Were Ohio Republicans wrong in 2008? How many of today’s General Assembly Republicans voted for SB 221 in 2008? If they were wrong then, why should taxpayers and voters believe them in 2019?

“We tried to have a comprehensive bill to position Ohio to be a major producer of energy, especially renewable energy,” Strickland told The Toledo Blade. “At the time we passed our standards, we had one of the strongest in the country for a state like ours.

“This issue shows the power of unbridled special-interest influence over what’s best for the citizens of this state,” Strickland said. “It’s just an appalling example of how ‘might makes right’ and to hell with what’s best for the people.”

In 30 consecutive years of column writing, I’ve rarely made it a habit to agree with Ted Strickland – a nice man, who’s always been more than fair with me. We just happen to be a few legions apart, politically. But I think the former governor and congressman makes a valid point on House Bill 6.

Regardless, the bill is sure to pass the 2019 Republican Assembly, and Gov. DeWine will sign it. FirstEnergy probably deserves HB 6, too. After all, they bought and paid for it.

Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press, Highland County’s only locally owned and operated newspaper.