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Novita Industries, L.L.C. v. Lorain County Board of Revision

Supreme Court of Ohio

May 30, 2018

Novita Industries, L.L.C., Appellant and Cross-Appellee,
v.
Lorain County Board of Revision et al., Appellees; Lorain City School District Board of Education, Appellee and Cross-Appellant.

          Submitted April 10, 2018

          Appeal from the Board of Tax Appeals, Nos. 2014-4243 and 2014-4424.

          Black, McCuskey, Souers & Arbaugh, and Thomas W. Connors, for appellant and cross-appellee.

          Kolick & Kondzer, Thomas A. Kondzer, and Joseph A. Volpe, for appellee and cross-appellant.

          PER CURIAM.

         {¶ 1} In this property-tax appeal, we address the "continuing-complaint" jurisdiction of appellee Lorain County Board of Revision ("BOR") over the value of a property for tax years 2012, 2013, and 2014. The taxpayer and property owner, appellant and cross-appellee, Novita Industries, L.L.C., sought a reduction from the value determined by the Lorain County auditor for those three years by asserting a continuing complaint. Novita predicated its claim on its originally filed complaint, which had challenged the property valuation for tax year 2009; that complaint was finally determined in 2014, and Novita's continuing complaint sought to apply the same value determined in that case to 2012, 2013, and 2014.

         {¶ 2} In its appeal to this court, Novita challenges the decision of the Board of Tax Appeals ("BTA") that the BOR lacked continuing-complaint jurisdiction over tax year 2014. On cross-appeal, appellee and cross-appellant, Lorain City School District Board of Education ("BOE"), raises a more fundamental challenge by arguing that Novita failed to invoke the BOR's continuing complaint jurisdiction for any of the tax years at issue. Namely, the BOE contends that Novita failed to state its opinion of the property value on the form it submitted in 2014 and argues that the alleged omission deprived the BOR of continuing-complaint jurisdiction over any of the three years.

         {¶ 3} Because we conclude that the BOR had continuing-complaint jurisdiction to determine the property's value for all three years, we reject the BOE's cross-appeal and we reverse the BTA's refusal to exercise jurisdiction over tax year 2014. We also order a modification to correct a clerical error: we direct that the parcels at issue be assigned an aggregate value of $750, 000 for 2012, 2013, and 2014. And we remand the cause for an allocation of the aggregate value to the individual parcels.

         I. Background

         {¶ 4} Novita purchased the property at issue, a warehouse/industrial plant, in June 2009 for $750, 000. Novita filed a decrease complaint for tax year 2009 seeking a reduction of value to that sale price, $750, 000. BTA No. 2010-3585, 2014 Ohio Tax LEXIS 2409 (Apr. 15, 2014). The BOR retained the auditor's valuation and Novita appealed to the BTA, which ultimately issued a decision on April 15, 2014, that adopted the sale price as the property value for tax year 2009.

         {¶ 5} 2012 was a reappraisal year in Lorain County, and the auditor assigned an aggregate value of $1, 647, 310 to the parcels at issue for that year. On July 14, 2014, Novita initiated the present proceedings by filing a DTE Form 1, the officially prescribed form for original complaints under R.C. 5715.19(A); the form explicitly placed tax years 2012 and 2013 at issue. Novita attached to the DTE Form 1 the BTA's April 15, 2014 decision, which it referred to on the face of the complaint form; the attachment served both as a list of the parcels at issue and as the basis for Novita's claim for reduction. The BOE filed a countercomplaint form seeking retention of the auditor's valuation.

         {¶ 6} The BOR held a hearing at which the parties and the BOR members extensively discussed whether the 2009 value of $750, 000 should be carried over into the new triennial period. In its prehearing brief to the BOR, Novita specifically requested that the value of $750, 000 be carried forward to tax years 2012, 2013, and 2014. The BOR concluded that the law did not permit the carryover, and it therefore retained the auditor's valuation.

         {¶ 7} On appeal, the BTA held a hearing at which Novita presented the testimony and appraisal report of Charles G. Snyder, a member of the Appraisal Institute, plus the testimony of an officer of Novita. On the basis of his income-capitalization and sales-comparison approaches, Snyder opined a value of $750, 000 as of January 1, 2012-an opinion of value that was equal to the 2009 sale price. Snyder also criticized the cost-approach valuation set forth on the property-record card, which expressed a "current value" of $1, 557, 760.

         {¶ 8} The BTA adopted Snyder's valuation for 2012 and 2013 but ruled that it lacked jurisdiction to determine the value for tax year 2014. Novita has appealed the BTA's jurisdictional ruling regarding 2014, and the BOE has cross-appealed, contending that the BOR lacked ...


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