Northfield, OH – (Oct. 11, 2021) – The Nordonia Hills City School District announces a settlement with the MGM Northfield Park Casino.
School districts and other taxing authorities are able to perform their necessary functions by utilizing, primarily, taxes paid by home and business owners based upon the value of their property.
“As a good steward of community tax dollars,” stated Joe Clark, Nordonia Hills City School District Superintendent, “the Nordonia Hills City School District monitors commercial and industrial property values annually to determine if the fiscal officer’s assessed values are reasonable.”
The District became aware of the potential undervaluation of the Northfield Park Casino through press releases announcing MGM’s acquisition of the property and operations.
Based upon this information, The Nordonia Hills School District utilized a procedure within the Ohio Revised Code that allows school districts and other taxing authorities to challenge property values that were set by county auditors and fiscal officers.
The District filed tax documents with the proper officials regarding the Northfield Park Casino property’s value for tax year 2018 and tax year 2020.
“MGM has been a good corporate citizen and has cooperated throughout the process,” stated Clark. “The Nordonia Hills City School District has settled the situation based upon reasonable terms with the purpose of maintaining a positive working relationship for the benefit of the overall community.”
The school district selected to work directly with MGM to reach a settlement as this legal process gave the district more flexibility in allowing the funds to be predominantly dedicated to support future facilities and infrastructure needs in the form of a Permanent Improvement Fund and Capital Projects Fund.
The settlement amount will be over $15 Million which will be paid out between October 2021 and March 2026.
“The District is presently analyzing all options to address its long-term facility needs,” stated Chad Lahrmer, Nordonia Hills City School District Board President. “As a part of this process, the District is conducting a community engagement initiative to understand the resident’s sentiment regarding potential facility solutions.”
No matter which facility option is eventually selected, the establishment of a mechanism to pay for these future needs is a priority. To that end, the first settlement will be used to immediately provide funding to the District’s Permanent Improvement Fund to address facility needs for the school district.
The Nordonia Hills City School District is the only school district in Summit County that does not currently have a Permanent Improvement Levy, which is a dedicated Levy fund for school facility repairs. This means that presently when necessary facility repairs need to be made, they are paid for out of the General Fund.
“A dedicated Permanent Improvement Fund that is well funded would be used as a fiscally responsible method to pay for needed school repairs in both the short and long term,” stated Board President Lahrmer.
At the October 11th School Board Meeting, the School Board voted unanimously to both accept the terms of the settlement and to dedicate the first settlement payment of $3,465,575, in its entirety, to fund the District’s Permanent Improvement Fund. It is the hope that future school boards will use these settlements to continue providing the necessary funding to the Permanent Improvement Fund which will be used to continue focusing upon facility needs.
“Importantly,” stated Matt Brown, The Nordonia Hills City Schools Treasurer, “having the ability to fund future capital improvements and repairs from the Permanent Improvement Fund will extend further into the future the District's ability to operate its General Fund in the black.”
Although the funds coming to the school district resulting from the MGM settlement will be significant, they will fall far short of the amount needed to address the district’s long-term facility needs. Any long-term solution, whether it consists of new facilities or renovations, will still require the community to pass a bond levy at some point in the future.
“We are thankful to the many individuals involved with this process that have worked so hard for this favorable outcome,” stated Clark. “The utilization of these funds as an investment into the facilities and infrastructure of the Nordonia Hills City School District will provide benefits for our community, our District and for the students we serve, for generations to come.”