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Schools lose bid for more tax revenues

Board of Review lowers portion of Quad Graphics plant assessment

OREGON – The Polo School District’s efforts to get the assessment of a local grain rail terminal increased have failed, while the abandoned Quad Graphics plant in Mount Morris was ruled substantially less valuable.

The Ogle County Board of Review agreed Tuesday with the $1.8 million assessment set in the fall by Ogle County Supervisor of Assessment Jim Harrison for the rail terminal owned by Bocker-Ruff LLC.

The nearly new facility is on U.S. Route 52 just west of the intersection with state Route 26.

An appraiser hired by the school district set the value at $2.4 million, which would have meant $27,000 more in real estate taxes paid to the school district.

The district’s attorney, Scott Ginsburg, argued Jan. 24 that legs of the grain bins, classified as equipment and therefore not taxable, are actually permanent fixtures and should be assessed as real property.

The board, however, ruled that because the legs can be removed, they are not part of the real estate assessment.

Wednesday, the board agreed to substantially lower the assessment of a portion of the abandoned Quad Graphics printing plant in Mount Morris.

The company asked that the assessment on the older portion of the building be dropped from $1.2 million to $295,240, citing contamination issues, vacant property, and deferred maintenance.

Barb Ricken, manager of Grant Thornton, a Chicago auditing and advisory firm hired by Quad Graphics, told the board that the company intended to appeal the assessment of the entire facility, not just the older portion.

“In all honesty, the appeal was supposed to be filed on both parcels but it wasn’t filed in time,” she said.

Last year Quad Graphics paid a of $116,044 in real estate taxes on the portion listed on the appeal. The successful appeal means that amount will be reduced to $26,600.

The affected taxing bodies include Ogle County, the village of Mount Morris, Mount Morris Township, Mount Morris Public Library, Mount Morris Fire District, Oregon School District, and Highland Community College District in Freeport.

Quad Graphics Inc. ceased production at the plant on May 13, 2011 as a cost-cutting measure, ending 113 years of printing at that location.

Since then, crews have been dismantling portions of the plant and removing the equipment inside.

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