MGM Northfield Park and Nordonia Hills City School District in Ohio have reached a property tax settlement. The agreement will result in the public education system receiving more than $15 million over six years from the casino giant.
Ohio has a unique law that allows public schools and other taxing authorities to contest assessed property values that were previously determined by county auditors and local officials. Nordonia Hills did just that.
“As a good steward of community tax dollars, the Nordonia Hills City School District monitors commercial and industrial property values annually to determine if the fiscal officer’s assessed values are reasonable,” explained Nordonia Hills Superintendent Joe Clark.
When the school district first challenged MGM Northfield Park’s appraised property value, MGM Resorts — which operates the casino and harness horse racing facility, aka “racino” — agreed to negotiate a new tax payment with the K-12 district.
MGM Resorts operates video lottery gaming (VGT) machines on the Northfield racino floor. The 65,000-square-foot gaming space offers 2,300 gaming terminals. MGM’s real estate investment trust — MGM Growth Properties — owns the racino’s physical assets and land.
MGM Growth Properties completed its acquisition of Northfield Park in 2019 from Hard Rock International for a little more than $1 billion.
Northfield Park is Ohio’s top racino in terms of gross gaming revenue (GGR). The venue won more than $256 million off gamblers prior to the pandemic in 2019. MGM Northfield reported GGR of $243.1 million in its 2021 fiscal year (July 2020 – June 2021).
Harnessing More Money
The Northern Ohio school district, located roughly 15 miles southeast of Cleveland, challenged the property value of MGM Northfield Park’s horse racetrack, stables, and vacant land.
Summit County property records value the roughly 80 acres at $4.5 million. That assessment does not include the MGM Northfield Park casino building and adjacent 29-acre parking lot.
The district and MGM worked together to decide on a new assessment and associated payment for the horse-related assets. The sides came to agree on about $2.5 million annually through 2026 — or $15 million in total.
Clark thanked MGM for its cooperation and willingness to share more money with the school district.
MGM has been a good corporate citizen and has cooperated throughout the process,” Clark declared. “The Nordonia Hills City School District has settled the situation based upon reasonable terms with the purpose of maintaining a positive working relationship for the benefit of the overall community.”
MGM told Casino.org that the settlement will run through March 2026, at which time the final payment in the $15 million deal is paid.
Speaking with Casino.org, MGM Resorts communication officials said the casino opted to negotiate a property tax settlement with Nordonia Hills City School District because the gaming operator is committed to bettering the community.
MGM said it paid the district $5.9 million in local property taxes over the past three years. But moving forward, it will set aside additional funds to help the school. The Nordonia Hills Board of Education voted Monday night to dedicate its first check from the new tax structure towards establishing the district’s first permanent improvement fund.
The fund will be used to address long-term facility enhancements as needed. Nordonia Hills City School officials reveal the district was the only public education system in Summit County without a capital improvement fund.
“A dedicated permanent improvement fund will be used as a fiscally responsible method to pay for needed school repairs,” said Nordonia Hills City School District Board President Chad Lahrmer.
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