The Ohio Supreme Court has agreed to expedite the proceedings in the ongoing case between the Delaware Area Career Center and the Ohio Department of Taxation after tax bills were not sent to property owners at the start of this year.
On Jan. 17 the Delaware Area Career Center filed a Writ of Mandamus with the Ohio Supreme Court and asked them to intercede after the Ohio Department of Taxation refused to collect any money from the 2015 renewal levy.
In the writ, the DACC states that in 2015, voters in Delaware County approved the DACC’s renewal levy by a margin of 10,644 votes.
However, DACC officials learned in December that the Ohio Department of Taxation would not be collecting the tax bills for the levy because 1,026 voters who live in Franklin, Marion, Morrow and Union County were not able to vote on the levy when it was on the ballot in 2015.
The career center reports that even if all 1,026 unaccounted voters voted “no” on the levy it still would have passed by 9,618 votes.
The Writ of Mandamus asks the Ohio Supreme Court to immediately order the Ohio Department of Taxation to begin tax collection for the DACC in the five counties.
The DACC also filed documents asking that the proceedings in the case be expedited because of the time sensitivity of the issue.
Late in January, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor approved the request for expedited proceedings.
Since then, both the Ohio Department of Taxation and the DACC have filed legal briefs but a ruling has not been made in the case.
The DACC’s filing reports that the career center should be receiving $7,119,937 in 2017 from the levy, but has not yet received any.
The levy originally passed in 2001 and was renewed in 2005 with a promise from the career center that it wouldn’t seek a renewal for 10 years said DACC Superintendent Mary Beth Freeman. Freeman said collections for the 2005 levy ended on Dec. 31, 2016.
Freeman said the DACC primarily serves Delaware County, but students who live on the edges of the other four counties also attend because they are part of the Olentangy and Buckeye Valley School Districts.
According to the writ, the DACC was legally obligated to file the levy paperwork with the county where the majority of their voters live, Delaware County, and the Delaware County Board of Elections was responsible for filing the levy for the 1,026 residents in the other four counties. The DACC reports that the Board of Elections failed to file that paperwork with the other counties and the levy did not appear on the ballot for those 1,026 voters.
Jane Hawes, the Communications Manager for Delaware County, said in January that the Board of Elections made “an honest mistake,” and said the county was working with the career center to resolve the situation.
Freeman said in January the career center will likely have to pause the ongoing construction on the consolidated campus. The writ states that the DACC will be forced to reevaluate instructional improvements, programming and staffing as the result of the loss of funds.
Freeman said in January that the career center’s priority is “quality instruction” for students.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.
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