New Mediation Program Available For Property Owners - WCMH: News, Weather, and Sports for Columbus, Ohio

New Mediation Program Available For Property Owners

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A backlog of complaints about property values has prompted the Franklin County Auditor to try a mediation program. A backlog of complaints about property values has prompted the Franklin County Auditor to try a mediation program.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -

Franklin County Auditor Clarence Mingo has started a new mediation program to resolve property-value complaints. The program is expected to help cut down on the backlog of property owner complaints currently pending before the County Board of Revision.

"It's an expeditious way to get a decision as to what the value of the property should be, and more important, they participate in the process," Mingo said. "They have a voice in the process and it's an opportunity for them to weigh in and give us their input, and hopefully we can reach a fair and meaningful agreement as to what the value should be."

The Board of Revision has a backlog of more than 13,000 cases, a few dating to 2008. Most were filed in the wake of the sharp drop in the real estate market in 2008 and 2009.

It's not unusual for property owners to wait 12 to 18 months for a hearing date with the board. Then they wait for the board's decision which can be followed by an appeals process.

Property owner Don Schlater and his attorney Buddy Marks agreed to mediation as a way to try to resolve Schlater's dispute with the county over the value of a number of properties. Marks said mediation streamlines what could otherwise be a lengthy process.

"This avoids all those issues because both parties are in agreement as to what the valuation is," Marks said.

Todd Brubaker is one of nine mediators hired by the county to handle the cases. He facilitated the discussion between Schlater, Marks and a representative of the auditor's office.

"We worked through 10 or 12 so far and we're in agreement on all 12 cases, so a very positive outcome," Brubaker said.

Property owners can choose to do the mediation in person but the auditor expects most will opt for mediation by phone. The goal of the mediation program is to resolve as many as 4,000 cases.

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