by Mark McKimmy
At the direction of the Grand County Board of County Commissioners, Lee Staab, Grand County Manager, will be meeting with representatives from YMCA of the Rockies (Snow Mountain Ranch) to seek full or at least partial reimbursement of the interest paid to the YMCA for property taxes collected.
It all started December 2003 when the YMCA of the Rockies originally claimed its tax exempt status, at which time the Property Tax Administrator granted a religious exemption for operating in a “religious” and “charitable” nature.
After Grand and Larimer Counties successfully appealed the religious status in 2006 case, the YMCA appealed for a charitable tax exemption for all of its Grand County property. In 2011 The Board of Assessment Appeals ruled The YMCA of the Rockies should be paying property taxes for both its Grand and Larimer county locations. On August 01, 2014 The YMCA of the Rockies was granted a full property tax exemption by The Colorado Board of Assessment Appeals. This ruling is retroactive to the 2002 tax year. The YMCA of the Rockies stopped paying property taxes in 2005, and has instead been putting the money it would have paid aside into savings. The Colorado Supreme Court denied a request by Grand County and Larimer County to review the Colorado Court of Appeals August 2014 decision. In Grand County, this meant that Grand County, East Grand School District, East Grand Fire Protection District, Fraser Valley Metro Recreation District, Middle Park Water Conservancy District, Grand County Library District, and the Colorado River Water Conservancy District will not collect property tax on the YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch and related properties and have to repay property taxes collected plus the interest accrued.
The Grand County Treasurer’s Office paid Snow Mountain of the Rockies a total of $1,166,418.80 at the end of February. The amount included taxes refunded in the amount of $422,551.20 and interest in the amount of $743,867.60. Grand County’s portion of this amount included $137,168.18 in taxes refunded and interest paid in the amount of $193,968.64. Grand County and the other taxing entities hope to recoup all or most of the All Districts total. From 2005 thru 2016, all of the taxing entities did not receive any revenue from YMCA property taxes, as the lawsuit was pending. When the lost revenue amount is added to the amount already reimbursed to the YMCA, the total increases to $4,124,828.06 for all taxing districts. The County loss is $1,153,795.85. Lost revenue is the property taxes that would have been collected from the YMCA by each taxing entity. By law, the taxing districts are allowed to recover the refunded taxes and lost revenue thru a one-time only mill increase. Each taxing district can make an independent decision on whether to pursue this recoupment. If recoupment is pursued by any taxing entity, this increase would be added to the 2018 property taxes.
Staab will meet with all of the taxing entities in order to determine the intent of each district regarding recoupment of lost revenue. “We want to approach the YMCA with a united and clear voice. I believe that it is important for the YMCA to understand just how much of a negative impact this will have on the taxpayers of Grand County, regardless of where they live. I am confident that the YMCA will be receptive to reimbursing some if not all of the interest paid out.” Staab said.