Created on Thursday, 15 August 2013 Written by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
ADDYSTON, Ohio (AP) — A plastics and chemicals producer cited for contributing to air pollution in a southwest Ohio village will get more than $1 million from the village because of a tax calculation error.
The Ohio Department of Taxation determined that the state over-valued Lanxess Corp. equipment and the company paid too much in taxes, The Cincinnati Enquirer (http://cin.ci/126Z3YA ) reported. That tax money had been disbursed to public entities including the Three Rivers Local School District and the village of Addyston, east of Cincinnati along the Ohio River.
Now the money must be paid back. Three Rivers Superintendent Rhonda Bohannon says that hurts the district's small budget at a time when many Ohio schools are struggling financially because of funding and reduced property tax revenues.
"This came from totally out of the blue," she said.
In 2009, Lanxess and another owner agreed to pay $3.1 million to settle environmental violations at an Addyston plant that contributed to high levels of toxic chemicals in the air. The money they are owed now isn't from the environmental issues but instead from a state determination that it had over-assessed values of Lanxess property such as machinery, fixtures and inventory.
Local officials are hoping Lanxess will work with them on a plan for paying back the money overcharged.
Lanxess said in statement that the company will strive for "coming to an amicable solution for everyone."
Bohannon said the school would like to pay its share — about $900,000 — in one payment to avoid interest. But that could mean going to voters to ask for a levy a year earlier than planned.
Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes said the state's tax appeals process is too long.
"It's brutal," he said, blaming officials in Columbus for causing communities, schools and other public entities to get blindsided as in this case.
The Ohio Department of Taxation says it's not a simple matter.
"The department doesn't exist to create inconvenience or hardship on any level of government or taxpayers, but this process — just by its nature — is long and protracted and taxes get paid that may ultimately be eligible for refund," spokesman Gary Gudmundson said. "It's just the name of the game, unfortunately."