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Justices: College Tax Break Not For Private Owners

The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that private property owners that lease to community colleges aren't entitled to property tax exemptions available to the institutions. 

In a 4-3 decision Tuesday, justices reversed an Ohio Board of Tax Appeals decision granting tax exemptions to two private property owners for buildings they had leased to Columbus State Community College for branch campuses in Dublin and Groveport. Writing for the majority, Justice Terrence O'Donnell said Ohio's tax exemption for state-funded community colleges is only for properties owned, occupied and used by the institution for its educational mission. The state tax commissioner had also denied the exemption. In his dissent, Justice Paul Pfeifer argued the buildings fit into Columbus State's educational mission, despite the fact they were leased.