At their meeting Wednesday, Perkins school board was poised to approve a plan to put the levy campaign into motion. They postponed action until December, however, pending resolution of the tax dispute.
The school district still plans to call for a May levy, said Brian Printy, the board's president.
The dispute went before the board of revision a few years ago, and it's now with the Board of Tax Appeals in Columbus.
In short, it pits Perkins Schools against the bank that took receivership of the water park when it failed, said Jim Gunner, Perkins Schools superintendent.
When the property was sold for $2.5 million last year to the new owner, MKSP, a Maryland-based management and consulting company, the back taxes were paid based on a previous valuation of the land, said Rick Jeffrey, Erie County’s auditor.
The property was originally valued at $22.3 million and later reduced to about $18 million by the county's board of revision, Jeffrey said. The 2012 valuation for the land is set at about $7.2 million.
The receiver who paid the back taxes before selling the property believes it overpaid and believes the valuation should have been closer to the $7.2 million, Gunner said.
If the receiver wins, the school system could lose $180,000 a year going back to 2009, he said.
School officials want the issue resolved before setting a levy.
In a separate case, MKSP is appealing the new $7.2 million valuation, which the company believes should be closer to the $2.5 million it paid for the property. The county's board of revision has met on MKSP’s appeal, but has put the decision on hold pending the Board of Tax Appeals’ action in the earlier case, Jeffrey said.
If the Board of Tax Appeals drops the Maui Sands valuation to a low number, "we have to look at where we are,” Jeffrey said.
Gunner has proposed a 4.9-mill, eight-year operating levy, and the renewal of a 2-mill permanent improvement levy. The latter levy has actually fallen to an effective rate of 1.54 mills, Perkins Schools treasurer Lisa Crescimano said.
So, the township's voters may actually be facing a decision on two levies in May.
Perkins Township voters approved a fire department levy Nov. 6 but rejected a proposed 3.3-mill levy for police operations and other needs.
Township trustees have tentatively discussed putting the failed levy back the ballot in May, although they haven’t made a decision yet and and will also need to figure out how large the new proposed levy would be, said Mike Printy, Perkins Township trustee.
Printy, Brian Printy’s brother, said the school district and the township had hoped to avoid being on the ballot at the same time.
“We were trying to stay out of each other’s way,” Mike Printy said.