YMCA of the Rockies donates tax interest to Grand County after lawsuit
July 5, 2017
Following a legal battle that lasted more than a decade, it was announced this week that YMCA of the Rockies will donate a portion of tax interest payments back to Grand County.
YMCA of the Rockies, which has locations in Larimer and Grand counties, announced it will donate a total of $1,098,948.76, split between the two counties.
The crux of the legal battle was YMCA's claim that taxes were improperly levied upon its institution, which is considered a nonprofit religious organization, from 2002 to 2004.
The donation represents 50 percent of the total interest repayment both counties were legally obligated to repay to YMCA, according to the announcement from Snow Mountain Ranch in Grand County. The remaining 50 percent of the interest payments will be kept by YMCA to cover a portion of the legal fees incurred while arbitrating the tax issue.
"Grand County is pleased to put this matter behind us and focus our energies on serving our constituents," said Lee Staab, Grand County Manager. "We hope to work together with the YMCA of the Rockies to serve our community in the future."
The county government serves as the property tax collection entity for multiple special districts that were also impacted by the taxing dispute with YMCA.
While the county's own budget was impacted by the proceedings, East Grand School District had the single largest individual share of the repayment figure — $646,434 — of which $392,419 derives from accrued interest.
"I thought that was a pretty good olive branch," said Frank Reeves, East Grand Superintendent. "When I heard, I was pleasantly surprised they thought of giving that much back."
Reeves said the donation now brings the issue to a close, for which he was grateful.
"We have a great relationship with the Y," Reeves admitted. "This sort of thing could strain relationships so I am glad this is over. Not having this looming over us is worth every penny."
Julie Watkins, chief executive of YMCA of the Rockies, said the repayment is part of furthering YMCA's overall goals.
"YMCA of the Rockies is pleased to provide this donation as we continue to focus on our mission of putting Christian principles into practice through programs, staff and facilities in an environment that builds healthy spirit, mind and body for all," Watkins stated. "We look forward to a bright future in both of the counties we are blessed to serve."
A YMCA of the Rockies spokesperson declined to provide additional comment as to why YMCA chose to donate the funds to Grand and Larimer counties.
From 2002 to mid-2004, property taxes were levied on the Snow Mountain Ranch property in Grand County and an additional YMCA property in Larimer County. In December 2003, YMCA of the Rockies applied for a tax exempt status. That request was approved, reversed, appealed then reaffirmed.
After roughly 13 years in limbo, the legal question was decisively answered last December when the Colorado Supreme Court declined to review a lower court's decision exempting the properties.