The German Village Society must return to the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals to seek tax-exempt status for the Meeting Haus.

The German Village Society must return to the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals to seek tax-exempt status for the Meeting Haus.

The Ohio Supreme Court last week overturned a decision by the board of tax appeals that granted a property-tax exemption to the facility, 588 S. Third St.

The ruling gives Columbus City Schools, which stands to gain a substantial portion of the property-tax money, the opportunity to weigh in on the matter.

At issue is the society's failure to notify the school board of its decision to appeal a tax commissioner's ruling denying the exemption. Furthermore, the board of tax appeals erred when it did not properly notify the school board of the existence of the appeal, the court said.

The GVS filed for exemption of the property taxes in 2003, which would have been retroactive to 2000. The tax commissioner in August 2006 denied the society's application, a decision that was directly appealed to the board of tax appeals.

The board of tax appeals approved the tax exemption in 2009, meaning all taxes paid since 2000 were reimbursed to the society.

The GVS purchased the property in 1987 and, after a major renovation project, moved permanently into the building in 1991.

The tax savings since the exemption have averaged $17,000 per year, said David O'Neil, spokesman for the Franklin County Auditor Clarence Mingo. Last year, the society saved $23,917 in property taxes, based on the property's current valuation of $891,300, O'Neil said.

Jim Hopple, a member of the GVS board of trustees, said the society has set aside money because of the legal dispute.

"It would not be a big hit for the society because we have not spent the money," he said.

Hopple contends the Meeting Haus deserves tax-exempt status because of the charitable nature of the organization. It is unclear when the board of tax appeals will hear the appeal, he said.

"I'm really looking forward to the fact that this thing is coming to a resolution because we would really like to understand what we must pay and what we don't," said Roy Bieber, treasurer of the GVS board of trustees. "Instead of putting this into the special savings account, we would like to put this money toward the mission of the German Village Society preservation, education, all the good things we do."

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