What is mediation?
Mediation is a process in which a mediator facilitates communication and negotiation between parties to assist them in reaching a voluntary agreement regarding their dispute. This procedure is outside of the hearing process for the Board of Revision. However, the Board of Revision must approve any agreement which is reached in mediation. Due to public health considerations, all mediation sessions are currently conducted by phone.
Why is there mediation?
Mediation is an effort to serve Franklin County property owners by expeditiously resolving as many cases as possible.
By using mediation, your case will likely be resolved earlier than through the typical Board of Revision hearing.
What is a mediation agreement?
A mediation agreement is an agreement to the facts and terms which a complainant requests for the Board of Revision to adopt in its decision.
What is a waiver?
A waiver is the complainant's relinquishment of rights to such things as an appeal or the use of an attorney, for example. The complainant does not wish to utilize these types of rights because an acceptable arrangement has been reached and the Board of Revision approves through its decision.
What does the applicant/complainant do in the mediation?
The applicant/complainant needs to be organized and brief in his/her discussion points. Most mediation sessions will revolve around the central issue of valuation for a parcel(s) of real estate. You must be prepared to explain the circumstances surrounding the issues to be mediated in an organized and brief manner.
What kind of documentation do I need to submit if my case is selected for mediation?
If you have documentation substantiating the value you have requested in your Board of Revision complaint, then the documentation should be submitted well in advance of the mediation session. Sometimes applicants/complainants will have no documentation. Sometimes applicants/complainants will have appraisals of the parcels in question, comparable sales for the area, or sales documentation for the property in question. You are welcome to submit the documentation you believe will best serve your case but in the interest of time, please be sure the documentation is helpful to your case and on point.
Will my concerns be heard in mediation?
Concerns related to the case will be discussed but all parties must work together to stay on point. The amount of time in the mediation session is limited as other cases are awaiting mediation. You must be able to state your concerns in a precise manner. The mediator will assist in facilitating communication on relevant concerns which can have a positive outcome from mediation.
What does the mediator do?
The mediator facilitates the communication and negotiation between the parties. The mediator is not your attorney and does not take sides. The mediator helps the parties work through case issues and reach an agreement. The mediator is not a judge. The mediator will not make a determination as to right or wrong or decide the case.
Who will be in the mediation?
A basic mediation will normally consist of the applicant/complainant, a Franklin County Auditor's office representative, and a mediator. If the Board of Education has counter-filed on a case, then it may be involved in the mediation
How long will the mediation session last?
The mediation will last about 20 minutes. The issues are typically not that complicated and often revolve around agreement on a valuation amount for a parcel of real estate.
May I bring someone with me to the mediation?
Currently, all mediation sessions are being conducted with the applicant/complainant on the telephone. Other individuals the parties designate are allowed to accompany them and participate in the mediation. However, this practice may impede progress in the mediation and slow down the process. Please contact the Mediation Division in advance if you want to have someone on the phone with you. Your participation and non-party participation is your consent to keep mediation communications confidential.
Will our agreement be put in writing?
Yes, the agreement will be put in a written agreement and signed by the applicant/complainant, the Auditor’s representative and the mediator. The mediated agreement will be emailed or mailed by regular mail to the applicant/complainant for signature. The applicant/complainant will then have a deadline to return the original, signed agreement by regular mail to the Mediation Division, 373 S. High St., 20th Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215.
Once the mediated agreement is signed, is it final?
Once the agreement is signed by the applicant/complainant, it must be submitted to the Board of Revision for approval. If the mediated agreement is approved by the Board of Revision, a decision letter will be issued to the applicant/complainant indicating the Board of Revision's decision. Often the mediated agreement will be approved with little or no modification, but the Board of Revision has to approve the mediated agreement. Once the decision is entered by the Board of Revision from a typical mediated agreement and waiver of appeal, the matter is final.
Do I need an attorney to mediate?
You do not need an attorney to mediate. You may have an attorney in the mediation but it is not required. Many mediation sessions are held without an attorney.
As an applicant/complainant, may I have a non-attorney (agent, POA, representative) mediate the case on my behalf?
These matters are much simpler when the complainant handles his/her own case. This matter will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Typically, a power of attorney is acceptable to handle the matter on behalf of the individual (complainant) authorizing the power of attorney.
For corporations, trusts, limited liability companies, and so forth, typically an attorney, the trustee, or the president of the corporation would need to sign the mediated agreement.
What if I am not happy with the settlement agreement?
Decisions have to be made every day by individuals on all types of issues such as property value, economic issues, the price of items to buy or sell, and so forth. The complainant has to decide whether it is better to know, with a high degree of certainty, the value you will likely receive through a mediated agreement, or whether they should wait for the unknown value to be determined after a full BOR hearing. Once the decision is made by the Board of Revision from a properly signed agreement, the decision is final. Applicants/complainants who are not happy with the terms should not enter an agreement. If no mediated agreement is entered, then the case will be set for full hearing in the regular course of business before the Board of Revision at some later date.
Is my mediated agreement a matter of public record?
Typically the agreement is a matter of public record as it is part of the decision reached by the Board of Revision. The mediated agreement has to be sent to the Board of Revision for review and approval/denial before a decision on the approval can be entered. If the mediated agreement is not approved, then the case will be eventually set for a hearing.