MOUNT VERNON — The old Mount Vernon Middle School on Mulberry Street is still on schedule to be the first delinquent tax case to be considered by the Board of Revision, but that won’t happen when it meets at 2 p.m. today.
County Prosecutor Chip McConville said that when the board convenes, Area Development Foundation President Jeff Harris, who serves as a special prosecutor for the Board of Revision, will ask for a 60-day postponement of the case.
This comes in the wake of an administrative appeal being filed with Common Pleas Court and with Brian Ball, chair of the city’s Board of Property Maintenance Appeals, of that board’s vote to condemn the old middle school and ordering it demolished within 180 days. That appeal was filed by Noel Alden, attorney for Jason and Larry Gunsorek, owners of the school building.
Boards of Revision were authorized by the Ohio General Assembly about 10 years ago to handle a growing number of cases involving vacant and abandoned property that is delinquent on tax payments and to do it in a faster forum than Common Pleas Court.
The Board of Revision, consisting of the county treasurer, auditor and one county commissioner, can award a vacant and abandoned property to the county Land Bank for redevelopment. However, local taxing authorities forfeit delinquent taxes and assessments.
On Feb. 28, the city’s Board of Property Maintenance Appeals voted to condemn the middle school property, ordering it torn down within 180 days.
At the time it was reported that the delinquent taxes had been paid, apparently by Joel Mazza, who has been negotiating to buy the old school property.
However, Land Bank President Jeff Gottke, said that under the Ohio Revised Code, properties delinquent of taxes cannot be “redeemed” while facing unresolved code violations and an order for condemnation is considered a code violation.
Therefore, the tax payment was returned and the middle school still comes under the Board of Revision’s authority, but then came the appeal, further complicating the situation.
And as if to underscore the complaints that have swirled around the building for years, on the evening of March 7, police were called to the building, where a neighbor had seen three people going through the security fence and entering the building. When the officer arrived, he found three juveniles, a male and two females, inside the building. They were transported to their homes and a report sent to the juvenile prosecutor for review.