LINESVILLE — Conneaut School District isn’t going to wait any longer for its money, as Conneaut School Board gave attorney George Joseph the go-ahead for a sheriff’s sale of Conneaut Lake Park during its monthly work session on Wednesday.
No vote was taken, but the general consensus of the board was to move forward with the sale to regain the $633,949.87 the park owes in delinquent taxes dating back to 1997. In order to get the park on the October sheriff’s sale list, formal paperwork will have to be filed by Monday.
The school board didn’t say on Wednesday when papers would be filed to initiate a foreclosure action.
Wednesday’s decision wasn’t reached without some discussion.
Board member Jody Sperry asked what would happen if the Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park would file for bankruptcy.
If the Trustees would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Joseph said, the Trustees would have to devise a reorganizational plan. Then, all the lien holders and creditors would have to vote on the plan. If enough vote against it, a judge could order the park to be sold. If the plan gets approved, the school district would have to wait the life of the plan, five years, to get its money.
During Wednesday’s discussions, some board members didn’t seem impressed with last week’s presentation to all four of the park’s taxing bodies — Conneaut School District, Crawford County and Summit and Sadsbury townships — by Mark Turner, executive director of the Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park.
Turner also serves as the executive director of the Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County. The Progress Alliance, which is the county’s lead economic development agency, proposed the revitalization plan for the amusement park.
“There’s so many maybes and ifs in his plan,” board member Dave Schaef said.
What bothered Sperry was Turner said if the school district went along with the plan he was going to immediately ask for a tax exemption for the park.
“We can’t afford to give away any more properties as tax exempt,” Sperry said.
“How did we get here?” board member Cheryl Krachkowski asked.
Joseph explained up until February, the only taxing body with the authority to execute a sheriff’s sale was the county. Act 93 of 2013 gave the power for all taxing bodies to initiate a sheriff’s sale. The only option open to the district prior to Act 93 being passed was to file a civil suit.
“No one else in this area can go 17 years without paying taxes,” Schaef said.
Schaef also referenced a recent Tribune article which said the Progress Alliance has two undeveloped parcels at the Crawford Business Park in Vernon Township posted to be sold at Crawford County’s annual tax upset sale to be conducted by the Treasurer’s Office on Sept. 26.
“That raises some red flags about leadership,” Schaef said. “I don’t see any advantage to waiting.”
Joseph asked if the board wanted to wait and see what the other taxing bodies wanted to do. An option was to wait to file for a November sheriff’s sale — when the park season was over.
Crawford County commissioners, meanwhile, have scheduled a special public meeting to take action on the park today at 9:30 a.m.
“I don’t think it would be in the district’s best interest to wait,” board member Dot Luckock said.
“We need to proceed,” Krachkowski said. “We owe it to our students.”
Earl Corp can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.