• Ohio Supreme Court Clarifies that Taxing Authorities Must Pass Two Pieces of Legislation in Order to Place a Statutory Levy on the Ballot
  • June 22, 2016 | Authors: Stephen L. Byron; Benjamin Grant Chojnacki
  • Law Firm: Walter - Cleveland Office
  • On January 26, 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court decided State ex rel. Cornerstone Developers, Ltd. v. Greene Cty. Bd. of Elections, Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-313. In the case, the Court ordered the Greene County Board of Elections to remove a tax levy from the March 2016 ballot because the Sugarcreek Township Board of Trustees failed to follow the statutory procedure for placing the question of a tax levy on the ballot.

    Chapter 5705 of the Ohio Revised Code establishes the procedure for placing a statutory tax levy on the ballot. First, a taxing authority must pass a "Resolution of Necessity" asking the county auditor to certify the current tax valuation of the political subdivision. After receiving the auditor's certification, a taxing authority must pass a separate "Resolution to Proceed" submitting the question of the tax to the voters. The taxing authority must certify the "Resolution to Proceed" to the county board of elections at least ninety (90) days prior to an election.

    Instead of following the statutory procedure, Sugarcreek Township's Board of Trustees passed legislation making a finding that the taxes that 'may be raised within the 10 mill limitation will be insufficient' and declared the necessity for an additional levy. The Trustees transmitted this legislation to the county board of elections and the tax levy was placed on the ballot.

    Cornerstone Developers challenged the tax levy's placement on the ballot because the Board of Trustees failed to pass a Resolution to Proceed and failed to certify such resolution to the county board of elections at least ninety days prior to the election. The Ohio Supreme Court recognized this to be a fatal flaw, and ordered the tax levy removed from the March 2016 ballot.

    Cornerstone Developers is significant because it demonstrates that omnibus tax levy legislation is insufficient to satisfy Chapter 5705. Instead, a taxing authority must pass both a "Resolution of Necessity" and a "Resolution to Proceed," then timely certify the "Resolution to Proceed" to the county board of elections at least ninety (90) days prior to the election.