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Lack of Leadership by County Auditor on SPIRE

The SPIRE controversy has been a black mark in Ashtabula County for taxpayer trust and business certainty. Sadly, our former County Commissioners and current County Auditor’s office have played hot potato over the issue, leaving the taxpayer and community at a loss. Now, with news of an 87% reduction in SPIRE's value by the County Auditor and more delays with information promised this fall, possibly after the November election, the kicking-the-can-down-the-road must end.

There has been a void of leadership with uncertain taxes, leaving Ashtabula County tax-payers with many questions.

- With this new valuation, does that mean that past property taxes were incorrect for area taxpayers, were they paying the wrong amount based on SPIRE's old $54 million value and not the much lower $7 million?

- How often is this special form of valuation used for County businesses and why is it being applied just to SPIRE now, and not before, and not to other businesses?

- Why was the County Auditor’s value for SPIRE at 8 times the most recent Auditor’s appraisal value?

- Will other taxpayers’ property taxes go up now that SPIRE’s County Auditor Valuation has been decreased by 87%?

- Why didn’t the Auditor’s office use the Geneva School Board appraisal for valuation which was free and higher than the lower new Auditor’s valuation?

- Why was this new, low Auditor’s valuation released just after the Levy Passage and SPIRE tax law passage in Columbus and not before?

- Why wasn’t the Board of Revisions Process followed for valuation appeals and sent to the state?

- Where did the original Auditor’s Valuation for SPIRE come from and why is it so drastically different?

- Who paid for the Auditor’s $150,000 estimated appraisal on SPIRE?

- How much will Geneva Schools and other local governments lose now that the Auditor’s Valuation has SPIRE paying less taxes than the School Board Agreement with SPIRE?

- Why has there not been a definitive value in the over 8 years of negations for SPIRE?

How can we try to attract new and large businesses to Ashtabula County or even keep the ones we do have when this serves as an example of the way things get done? Years of back and forth, delays on valuations, side deals and negotiations, special legislation, the list goes on and on.

Uncertainty harms business, harms investment, harms our residents. The time for decisive and active leadership on this issue is now.

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