With the economic meltdown, more than a few local businesses can’t keep up with their bills. If a business becomes defunct, it might garner some news coverage. If it garners news coverage, there’s a good chance that the outstanding debts will be reported, particularly if taxes are overdue, especially when taxes are a matter of public record.
Elyria’s Chronicle-Telegram has a story about a shuttered strip club that, yet again, reveals the trend of inflating property tax assessment values beyond what the market would support. This particular property was sold for $10 to get out from under the debt, but the prior sale price was $750,000. One would think that the ever-worsening economy would support the notion that assessed values would be revised downward, but the Lorain County Auditor’s office assessed the value at $768,200. Does anyone know anybody that will by this property for &768,200? Didn’t think so. When you add this bit of information to the info about tax assessments on the former Ford Lorain Assembly Plant property, and the complaints I’ve heard from some Lorain County homeowners, it’s clear to me that Stewart has been gouging the public. In October, the Lorain County Auditor’s office announced that assessed property values were dropping, and a news story of potentially-inflated assessed property values in neighboring Huron County may have motivated the Lorain County Auditor’s office to make such an announcement.
But these are not the most egregious excesses perpetrated by Mark Stewart during his tenure as Lorain County Auditor. For the most egregious excesses, I recommend poring over That Woman’s Weblog under the category heading of “CRA.” Mark Stewart thinks that a Lorain County Auditor has the right to veto ordinances enacted by Lorain City Council. In Stewart’s wranglings to retroactively (a violation of ex post facto provisions of the Constitution) rescind tax abatements, he’s cost the county and Lorain city lots of $$$ in legal fees. The power Stewart has usurped is absolutely tyrannical.
In my opinion, Lorain County Auditor Mark Stewart is in need of some checks and balances. The check and balance I’d prefer is that someone runs against him for election this year so that voters can show him the door.
The deadline for submitting election candidacy petitions to seek party nominations in the primaries is February 18, 2010, before 4 p.m., at the Lorain County Board of Elections.