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Washington Local Schools due to get overdue $500,000 held by Toledo

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The Blade/Jetta Fraser
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Washington Local Schools soon will receive more than $500,000 that was collected over the past seven years on its behalf by the city of Toledo but never transferred to the school system, Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez said.

Ms. Lopez said after taking office she learned the school district had approved a 100 percent tax abatement Dec. 11, 2000, for what was then DaimlerChrysler Corp.

Under the agreement, the company made payments in lieu of taxes totalling 45 percent of the real property taxes generated by improvements to its sequencing center at the Toledo Jeep Assembly Plant.

"This agreement was reached under the Ray Kest administration where the city would collect the money," Mrs. Lopez said. "I'm very happy that once the city recognized that our files were accurate, they immediately said they would get the funds to the school district."

Washington Local Superintendent Patrick Hickey said he agreed to forgo attempting to collect interest from the city in exchange for quick payment along with help resolving a similar problem collecting payments in lieu of taxes regarding the Westgate development in West Toledo.

"Somehow there was a disconnect where Chrysler was sending the money to the city and that money was not getting forwarded to the district," Mr. Hickey said. "We have some culpability here since we weren't banging on the city's door asking for our money."

The tax abatement agreement runs through 30 years.

Subsequent to Washington Local approving the abatement, Toledo City Council approved it and created a fund to receive payments from the company.

Mrs. Lopez said payments in lieu of taxes are usually made to the county rather than the city.

Officials from the Finkbeiner administration could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Hickey said he took the matter to councilmen Lindsay Webb and Tom Waniewski after he was hired as superintendent in August, 2007.

- Ignazio Messina

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