EGSD eyes YMCA tax exemption proceedings
March 10, 2016
An ongoing taxing dispute between the YMCA of the Rockies, Grand and Larimer Counties and various taxing entities in the two counties has officials from the East Grand School District (EGSD) cautiously watching developments and preparing for a potential repayment of over half a million dollars in tax funds from the school district alone.
Over the past several months members of the EGSD Board of Education discussed the issue during Board meetings. East Grand Business Manager Donette Schmiedbauer briefed the Board of Education on the subject with updates during the late Feb. Board meeting.
As it now stands the YMCA of the Rockies has been ruled tax exempt. Grand and Larimer Counties are appealing the decision. If the appeal is denied local taxing entities such as Grand County and the EGSD will be required to return previously taxed funds to the YMCA. According to Grand County Treasurer Christina Whitmer the funds to be repaid include owed interest, which accrues at a rate of one percent per month.
For the EGSD alone the total repayment figure is around $618,000. Grand County would be looking at a repayment total of around $1.3 million. The taxed funds from YMCA were taken during 2003 and half of 2004. The total amount of funds taxed from YMCA during that year and a half period was $531,494.42. The total interest accrued on the taxed funds is $762,622.85 making the possible interest owed greater than the initially taxed total.
The Colorado Court of Appeals is currently handling the dispute with both Grand and Larimer County acting on behalf of the other affected taxing entities, such as the EGSD. Grand County Attorney Alan Hassler provided details on the process
According to Hassler Grand and Larimer Counties have filed a motion with the Colorado Court of Appeals to reconsider a previous decision from the court that declared the YMCA properties in Grand and Larimer Counties as tax exempt. Hassler said no decision on the motion to reconsider has been received yet and he had no expected timeline. "I hate to second guess the court," Hassler said.
The Colorado Court of Appeals most recent decision declaring the YMCA tax-exempt was made on Jan. 22, 2015. If the Court of Appeals denies the motion to reconsider and funds must be repaid to the YMCA Grand and Larimer Counties will administer the process for the various other taxing entities affected by the decision.
County Treasurer Whitmer explained that any repayment process would be complex and would depend largely upon when the abatement order would be received. A potential repayment process would be made easier, according to Whitmer, if the abatement were processed in April when the County receives an influx of tax revenue. The County will handle any repayments from entities such as the EGSD. Grand County serves as the collection agent for taxes for entities such as the EGSD. Repayments to the YMCA will likely be covered by withholding tax revenue payments to the EGSD and the other taxing entities.
Despite no longer receiving tax funds from the YMCA EGSD Business Manager Schmiedbauer maintains figures on uncollected property taxes related to the YMCA's Grand County property. According to Schmiedbauer's figures if the YMCA were not considered tax exempt the entity would have paid a total of $1,129,010 in taxes to the EGSD alone over the nearly 12 years since it was granted exemption and a total of $2,722670 to all taxing entities affected by the exemption decision.
Among the taxing entities affected by the YMCA's tax exemption are: the Colorado River Water Conservancy, East Grand Fire, East Grand School District, Fraser Valley Metro Recreation, Grand County, Middle Park Water Conservancy and the Grand County Library District.
The YMCA of the Rockies first applied for religious purposes and charitable use property tax exemptions for its two properties, Snow Mountain Ranch and the Estes Park Center, in Dec. 2003. The Property Tax Administrator granted both exemptions though the Board of Assessment Appeals reversed the decision.
In April 2013 the Colorado Court of Appeals vacated the Board of Assessment Appeals' decision. After the appellate ruling the Board of Assessment Appeals reversed their previous decision and granted YMCA of the Rockies religious use exemptions but did not issue a ruling on the charitable exemptions requested by the Y.
The Sky-Hi News requested comment from representatives of the YMCA of the Rockies on this story but received no responses as of press time.