By DENISE GRANT

By DENISE GRANT

Staff Writer

The Ohio Board of Tax Appeals has ordered a Cleveland attorney to reimburse Hancock County for time spent preparing for an apparently bogus property tax appeal hearing.

Hancock County Auditor Charity Rauschenberg said the state tax appeals board ordered attorney Rami Awadallah to pay the county $90 as a monetary sanction because of "the repetitive nature of his misconduct."

The order was issued Oct. 24, when Awadallah failed to appear at a hearing he initiated on behalf of a Hancock County rental company. Awadallah practices with the law firm Bernlohr, Niekamp & Weisensell, Akron.

Rauschenberg said Awadallah is an attorney with one of several companies that have been soliciting local homeowners, promising to lower their property tax bills.

Rauschenberg said the companies mail letters to area residents saying they could be overpaying their taxes because the county value of their property might be in error.

Some companies are offering a "custom report" on property values, charging as much as $159 for the work. The company then completes a board of revision filing, often without the knowledge or permission of the homeowner.

When the hearings are held, no one from the company appears to represent the taxpayer.

Rauschenberg said Awadallah was ordered by the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals to pay a much higher monetary sanction, $8,529, on Oct. 9 in a case filed in Lorain County.

Property owners should beware of companies offering to assist with valuation appeals, she said.

In October, property values in Hancock County were updated to reflect market sales from 2010 to 2012. State law requires a triennial update to values based on sales data.

Property values used by the county can be checked by using the auditor's website: http://auditor.co.hancock.oh.us/.

Homeowners can also file an appeal for no charge with the board of revisions.

Grant: 419-427-8412

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