WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins has instructed Trumbull County Auditor Adrian Biviano to withhold repayment of overpaid taxes to the successor of WCI Steel, Inc.
Earlier this month the successor of WCI, which hasn’t been in operation for at least a decade, requested repayment of over $3.2 million by Warren City Schools and Howland Schools in tangible personal property tax for the years of 2001, 2002 and 2003.
The request was made after a recent ruling by the Board of Tax Appeals for the Ohio Department of Taxation.
Watkins submitted a response to attorneys representing RG Steel (formerly WCI Steel, Inc.) stating that they are reviewing the claim with legal counsel. Watkins also stated in his response that both WCI and RG Steel have been through bankruptcy proceedings which left “our community with unemployed steelworkers and facilities, equipment and materials to be sold only for their value as scrap.”
Repayment of the taxes by Warren and Howland schools would be “a substantial burden” Watkins wrote in his response, adding that the county has retained attorney Michael A. Gallo to determine if there is valid legal defense to the refund claim.
Biviano stated earlier that the case is strange because the property tax was discontinued six years ago by the state and WCI also does not exist anymore. Biviano said that it would be different if the company was still in business generating revenue, which would give the school districts some room to work with when it comes to repayment of the tax.
School treasurers in Howland and Warren both said if they are required to repay the money as is, it could have devastating effects on their budgets. Howland is currently seeking a school levy.