The Nordonia Hills School District in Ohio will receive a $15 million payment from MGM Northfield Park as a tax settlement over the Northfield racino, as announced on Monday. The fiscal office records of Summit County reported that the lots where various harness racing and casino operations are taking place at Summit County’s northern edge occupy an area of around 80 acres and thus, the appraised value is somewhere around $4.5 million. Last October, MGM Northfield Park was among the top earners in Ohio.
The District Challenged the Property Value
The district stated that it challenged the potential undervaluation of Northfield Park Casino. It also used a special Ohio Revised Code procedure. This procedure allows taxing authorities in which school districts are included to challenge the value of a property that is set by the fiscal offices of the county.
Over the past three years, MGM paid property taxes of around $323,000 for its Northfield gaming operations, which opened in 2013, as reported by the records of the Fiscal Office of Summit County. But the company states that it paid upwards of $5.9 million in that timeframe.
Brad Bryan, the Northfield Village Law Director, stated that a majority of that money was paid directly to Northfield Village via the Tax Increment Financing program. Bryan added that the property tax of the racino development’s value is paid to the village directly and the village keeps its and the county’s revenue share for property-related infrastructural improvements.
According to Bryan, the village uses the rest of the revenue to distribute to other entities like school districts, county parks and Akron Zoos. These entities would normally receive that revenue from the County itself and the exact figures on how the TIF revenue was given weren’t available.
In a Monday release, the Nordonia Hills Superintendent, Joe Clark stated that the Nordonia Hills City School District monitors industrial and commercial property values annually as community tax dollars’ good steward with the goal of determining whether the assessed values from the fiscal officer are actually reasonable.
The Settlement Will be Paid Through 2026
The Nordonia Hills Board of Education accepted the terms of the settlement via a unanimous decision on Monday. As a result, the amount of the Nordonia Hills Schools settlement will be paid through early 2026, expected to finalize in March of that year. Additionally, the Board of Education accepted to direct the first settlement payment of $3.46 million to the improvement fund of the district.
Clark stated that to reach a settlement, the school district worked with MGM directly and added that the process opened the doors for the district to dedicate the funds for various infrastructural needs and to support future facilities.
When the property was sold to MGM in 2019 for a price of around $1 billion, the former Rocksino by Hard Rock was the leader among Ohio’s seven racinos. Rocksino opened in December 2013 and the operation netted $246 million, thanks to the fact that it had more than 2,300 video lottery terminals. That was the biggest racino net win in Ohio.
MGM was praised by Clark, who said that it cooperated with the district and showed that it is a good corporate citizen. He also added that the school district settled the situation with reasonable terms and with the purpose of maintaining a good relationship so that the overall community can reap all the benefits.
Chad Lahrmer, the School Board President, stated in a Monday release that the district intends to use the money on long-term facility needs. As officials noted, Nordonia Hills is the only Summit County school district that does not have a permanent improvement levy, which is a levy for school repairs.