SPRINGBORO — City school board member Kelly Kohls, who ran for her seat last year on a platform of responsible spending, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on April 8.
Kohls and her husband, Thomas P. Kohls, listed assets of $678,580 and liabilities of $908,110, records with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Dayton show.
Kelly Kohls, a former college nutrition instructor and real estate developer, said Wednesday, June 2, her family is like many others these days — as the mortgage period on their home neared an end, they couldn’t get refinancing because the value had fallen below the loan amount. Also, their bank had failed.
“We’ve never been late on any payments on anything in our whole lives, ever, including this one,” she said. “Definitely this community is suffering in a lot of financial ways, and I’m one more.”
Court records show the Kohls value their home, 4151 Belle Terrace Lane in Lebanon, at $450,000 but state they owe $829,016 on the property. They own also nearly eight acres of undeveloped residential land in Clarksville in eastern Warren County valued at $35,000.
Board Vice President Michael Kruse said he viewed Kohls’ bankruptcy filing as a personal issue. “We’ve all made mistakes, we’ve all had situations,” he said, acknowledging it could be a distraction to the board’s official business.
“Anything that shows a negative against the board concerns me, because our focus should be to help the administration provide the best quality of education to our kids and anything that’s negative to that takes away from that,” Kruse said.
Kohls is not the only member having financial difficulties.
Board President Craig Colston recently settled a $60,000 debt with the Ohio Department of Taxation before resigning from the board May 25. He said his resignation had nothing to do with his tax debt, but with his growing frustration over division on the board and in the district after its top two administrators resigned and the failure of four consecutive school levies.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows the court to liquidate the filer’s assets but lets the debtor reaffirm some debts and select certain property to retain. The Kohls, who have five children, intend to surrender their home and one vehicle and reaffirm the debts on two vehicles. Court documents also show Thomas Kohls works for Bill DeLord Auto Center in Lebanon. He expects his income to be lower this year because the dealership no longer sells Cadillac and Pontiac and because the government’s Cash for Clunkers program has expired.
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