Tax valuation authorized if in best interest of school district

EAST LIVERPOOL – During a special meeting Wednesday, the city school board authorized Treasurer Todd Puster to retain legal counsel to file tax valuation, if he believes it to be in the best interest of the district.

Property owners James and Amy Swoger have filed with the county auditor a request to have the valuation of their property at 975 Park Blvd. decreased from the current fair market value of $281,300 to $190,000.

According to information provided by Puster, the Swogers purchased the property in September at sheriff’s sale for $140,000.

If the Swogers are successful in their bid to have the valuation lowered, the school district stands to lose $933 in taxes annually.

Mr. Swoger is city mayor, while Mrs. Swoger works for the school district.

Puster explained that any action taken by the school district in response to the Swogers’ request would be considered a counter claim.

In a second issue, nothing has yet been filed by the property owner, so Puster said he would have to file an actual claim, telling the board it is a “very unusual” situation in which the property owner, Steve Sawtschenko, purchased a home on Maine Boulevard that was valued by the county auditor at $149,500 but for which he paid $535,000.

The board wants the property valuation set at the purchase price, which would mean an increase of $385,500 in valuation and annual tax revenue to the district of $3,937.

Similar action was taken at Monday night’s meeting of the board, with Puster given authority to retain legal counsel to file claims or counter claims with the Board of Revision for two commercial property owners seeking valuation changes.

In those cases, a valuation decrease of $361,500 is being sought by Ceramic City Ltd., owner of Blossom Hill Apartments, for a $4,213 annual tax reduction to the district. A valuation increase of $2.1 million is being sought by the board for the E.L. Nursing Realty LLC, owner of Nentwick Convalescent Center, which would result in annual tax revenue of $24,885 to the district.

Following more than an hour in executive session Wednesday for personnel issues involving employment, dismissal and discipline, the board returned to take no action on personnel matters.

However, it did vote 4-0 regarding a student appeal, ruling that the student will not be permitted to play nor dress in uniform for any games on or before April 2 but will be permitted to travel to and from games with the team and sit with the team in the dugout in support during games.

The student’s mother had asked for an executive session at Monday’s regular session. Student matters are required by law to be kept confidential.

The board also voted Wednesday in favor of placing custodian Regina Schmelick on Family and Medical Leave, from March 7 to Dec. 31, as needed.