April 20, 2014

Elyria
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Judge to decide appeal deadline

LORAIN — A county Common Pleas Court judge will decide today whether to extend the amount of time that Lorain residents have to appeal the county auditor’s decision to decline their property tax abatements.

Today was supposed to be the last day for more than 300 west-side residents to appeal Auditor Mark Stewart’s decision not to approve their 15-year, 100 percent abatements. The city of Lorain offered the abatements, mainly to the burgeoning west side, late last year.

The city, along with the county commissioners, wants to extend the appeal time at least another month while Judge Mark Betleski decides whether what Stewart did was within the scope of his powers.

On Thursday, Judge Mark Betleski heard arguments on the issue from attorneys representing several of the parties involved.

Stewart’s attorney, Subodh Chandra, said the city went outside its scope when it offered the abatements for all homes built in 2000 or later because the abatement wasn’t approved by council until 2006. As a result, people who had moved to Lorain years earlier were being offered the abatement, even though the purpose of an abatement is to entice new residents to a city, Chandra said.

If the abatements are approved, the county will lose out on millions of dollars, which will affect school districts and other agencies, Chandra said.

Contact Adam Wright at 653-6257 or awright@chroniclet.com.