The YMCA of the Rockies question of whether or not they are exempt from taxes as a religious and charitable organization recently came to an end.
The Colorado Supreme Court denied a request by Grand County and Larimer County, Colorado to review the Colorado Court of Appeals decision that the property owned by the YMCA in each county is exempt from local government real and personal property tax.
The YMCA of the Rockies originally claimed its tax exempt status in 2003. 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. Then in 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. In Grand County, this means 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. The affected governments must refund taxes collected in 2002, 2003, and first half of 2004, plus interest. Interest on the amount garnered approximately $5500 month.
All in all, over $1.3 million is expected to be returned to the YMCA by Grand County taxing districts. . Districts effected include: the Colorado River Water Conservancy, East Grand Fire, East Grand School, Fraser Valley Metro Recreation, Grand County, Middle Park Water Conservancy and Grand County Library District. The East Grand School District carries the largest burden of repayment with an amount over $600,000 projected.
Frank Reeves, East Grand Superintendent of Schools, said, “We will be paying whatever our portion is out of our reserve fund. This will not affect any current school programs or teachers or classes. We may have to put a future project on hold for a year or two.
We will be in contact with the County, State and our attorney to see if there are any other steps we can take to minimize the impact. What sort of gnaws at me is we have no control of who we tax and the amount we tax and now we are stuck with this large outlay from our reserves. It’s good we have a final resolution, although not the one we had hoped for of course. Now we can move forward.”
The Grand County Library District board president Mary Chance admits the library board hoped for a different outcome, but says they were not completely caught off guard, and will work to minimize the impact on Grand County library users. After the tax rebatement, the GCLD is expected to repay approximately $70,000.
Grand County is expected to repay $404,000 and East Grand Fire is expected to be between $160,000 and $200,000. Of the entities, the East Grand School District shares the largest burden with over $600,000.
Grand County treasurer Christina Whitmer, does caution that the preliminary figures are not official yet and that the original figures are estimates.