The German Village Society's Meeting Haus is now tax-exempt.

The German Village Society's Meeting Haus is now tax-exempt.

Jim Hopple, GVS board member and attorney, confirmed last week that the Ohio tax commissioner will not appeal a decision that ruled the Meeting Haus should be tax-exempt.

The decision ends a lengthy court case that stretched most recently to 2003 but had its start when the society purchased the property at 588 S. Third Street in 1991.

In a divided decision dated Aug. 18, the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals overturned an earlier ruling by the state tax commissioner that stated the property was not tax-exempt.

When the Meeting Haus was purchased, the society unsuccessfully sought tax-exemption. It tried again in 2003 and was rejected. The 2-1 ruling by the board of tax appeals overturned the 2003 rejection.

When the board of tax appeals issued its ruling in August, Hopple cautioned restraint, as the commissioner had until Sept. 17 to file an appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court. This date passed without any filings.

"We are thrilled with the decision that has been made," said society president Brigid Butler. "It is wonderful news for the society and our community."

Since the decision was not appealed, the society will receive a tax refund going back to the date of the application and two years prior, after which the property will be tax-exempt.

Hopple did not want to speculate on the amount of money the society will receive from the ruling, saying the worth of the Meeting Haus has changed, as well as the taxes collected on the property.

"I just don't want to speculate about it until we see the number calculated by the auditor's office," Hopple said.

Previously, it was estimated the society paid $17,000 annually in property tax.

"It will be a significant sum, no doubt about it," Hopple said.

He said it may be some time before the society collects the funds, as the board of tax appeals' order must be processed by the state auditor's office.

"I don't know the time," Hopple said. "I would think it would take at least 30 days. More likely in the range to 60 to 90, but I just don't know."