McDonald’s Makes Pitch For Tax Reduction Due To Nelsonville Bypass

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A hearing was held Wednesday on the request by McDonald's restaurant of Nelsonville for a reduction in property taxes because the Route 33 bypass has hurt business. However, the restaurant may have made the argument a year too soon.

McDonald’s request for a reduction in taxable value was filed March 27 by local franchise owner Chris Cielec. The property is owned by McDonald’s Corp. Wednesday's hearing was held by the Athens County Board of

Revision, which was hearing complaints about the tax values that were used to determine tax bills for tax year 2013.

"Obviously when the bypass opened …. we saw a huge loss in sales at that particular store," Cielec told the board. "We've been averaging roughly a 27-28 percent loss in sales every single month since that's happened."

Current taxable value set for the restaurant building and land totals $341,180. In his complaint, Cielec asked that it be reduced to $255,863. Tax value is 35 percent of market value.

County Auditor Jill Thompson, a member of the board, said that tax value is computed from the market value of the property on the tax lien date — which for 2013 taxes would have been Jan. 1, 2013.

That would have been before the bypass completely opened.

The western portion of the bypass opened in the fall of 2012, although traffic still had to travel through Nelsonville and past the McDonald's restaurant. The full length of the bypass did not open until Oct. 1, 2013.

Bob Drain, a consultant who serves as project manager for the county's appraisals, also told Cielec that 2013 taxes are based on "how the world existed Jan. 1 of '13."

"What we're saying is that you'll have a better chance next year … because it lags behind a year," said County Commission President Lenny Eliason, also a member of the Board of Revision.

"I absolutely understand that, and we will give it a shot if you guys don't do anything this year, but we'd still like you to consider it for this year," Cielec said.

Thompson asked Cielec to provide the board with a copy of the lease he has with McDonald's Corp.

Eliason said Cielec will be notified of the board's decision in the next 10 to 14 days.