MERCER — In a move that resolved two years of squabbling over the taxable value of Shenango Valley Mall, Mercer County Commissioners approved an assessment agreement with the property owners.
Commissioners Scott Boyd and Tim McGonigle approved the settlement, which set the mall’s total assessed value at $1.41 million for 2018 and $1.39 million for 2019. The third commissioner, Matt McConnell, abstained from the vote because he is part of the mall’s ownership group.
The agreement ends appeals of a 2017 county decision that lowered the mall’s assessed value. The property’s other two taxing bodies, the city of Hermitage and Hermitage School District, previously approved the agreement.
Before the 2017 ruling, the mall had a total value of $3,589,750. The decision by Mercer County Assessment Appeals Board set the new total value at $1,353,600.
In 2018, the city and school district filed a suit to invalidate the new assessment.
Under the pre-2017 values, Shenango Valley Mall’s owners would have paid more than $332,000 in property taxes, including $229,410.16 to Hermitage School District.
With the agreement approved by all three taxing bodies, the mall’s property tax burden decreases to $130,505.37, with a little more than $90,000 to the school district.
Figures set in the agreement are based on the property’s fair market value of $5 million, and the common level ratio, the percentage of assessed values compared with market values across the county. The common level ratio was set at 28.2 percent for 2018 and 27.8 percent for 2019.
The agreement eliminates one area of uncertainty surrounding the mall, which has faced difficulties since early 2017, when Sears and Macy’s, two of its anchor stores, left the mall. Other retail outlets followed suit, which forced the mall leaseholder into receivership.
In January, Mercer County Common Pleas Court invalidated the lease because the leaseholder had failed to pay rent or taxes on the mall buildings, as required in the contract.
GFM 23, comprised of 23 relatives of former property owner George F. McConnell, is marketing the mall with the objective of filling the vacant retail spaces.
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