Sunday, February 20, 2011

Board of revision problems cost Cuyahoga County schools, governments and libraries $21 million

Written and reported with Gabriel Baird

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Throughout the scandals that plagued the Cuyahoga County boards of revision in 2010, the question that went unanswered was whether school districts or cities lost taxes because of the problems.

The question arose after a Plain Dealer investigation found that lax work habits were partly to blame for a backlog of hearings for nearly 29,000 taxpayer challenges to property values. It arose again when the newspaper reported that 2,200 property records were illegally altered to reduce property values. And it arose again when the newspaper found that the boards improperly and illegally wiped more than a billion dollars in values from the books. 

Losses due to improprieties might never be fully measured. But The Plain Dealer has discovered that the massive backlog of delayed cases has cost schools, local governments and other public agencies more than $21 million since 2007. And that money cannot be recovered.

Read the full story