Letters 10-12-2015

Replacing Pipeline Is Safe Bet On Sept. 25, Al Monaco, president and CEO of Enbridge, addressed members of the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance. His message was, “I want to be clear. We wouldn’t be operating this line if we didn’t think it was safe.”

We pretty much have to take him for his word...

Know The Root Of Activism Author and rabbi Harold Kushner has said, “People become activists to overcome their childhood fear of insignificance.” The need to feel important drives them. They endeavor good works not to help the poor or sick or unfortunate but to fill the void in their own empty souls. Their various “causes” are simply a means to an end as they work to assuage their own broken hearts...

Climate’s Cost One of the arguments used to delay action on climate change is that it would be too expensive. Such proponents think leaving environmental problems alone would save us money. This viewpoint ignores the cost of extreme weather events that are related to global warming...

A Special Edition Cuckoo Clock The Republican National Committee should issue a special edition cuckoo clock commemorating the great (and lesser) debates and campaign 2016...

Problems On The Left Contrary to letters in the Oct 5th edition, Julie Racine’s letter is nothing but drivel, a mindless regurgitation of left-wing stuff, nonsense, and talking points. They are a litany of all that is wrong with the left: Never address an issue honestly, avoid all facts, blame instead of solving; and when all else fails, do it all over again...

Thanks, Jack It is so very difficult for the average American to understand the complex issues our country faces in far off places around the globe. (Columnist) Jack Segal’s career and his special ability to explain these issues in plain English in many forums make him a precious asset to all of us in northern Michigan...

Home · Articles · News · Other Opinions · Tax Threat could Freeze...
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Tax Threat could Freeze out Non-Profit Skating Programs

Michael Anton - November 18th, 2004
Approximately 2,000 individuals are on skates each week at facilities operated by ICE (Involved Citizen’s Enterprises). ICE operates Howe Arena through a lease from Grand Traverse County. ICE also owns a twin sheet ice arena in East Bay Township, known as Centre Ice. The youth hockey and figure skating programs are held at the rinks, the high school hockey teams play and practice there, adult leagues take place, and there are daily public skating sessions. These programs are offered without taxpayer support. All that is currently threatened.
ICE is a 501(C)3 non-profit organization and hence is exempt from taxes. That includes sales tax, income tax, and property taxes. Without that exemption, the cost of operating the facilities would make participation prohibitively expensive, and out of reach for many area residents. Grand Traverse County and East Bay Township have challenged that exemption, and placed ICE on the tax rolls.
Michigan Court cases clearly have identified a four part test that must be met for a property to be exempt. 1) The non-profit must be incorporated in Michigan. 2) The real estate must be owned and occupied by the non-profit. 3) The property must be used by the non-profit for its exempt purpose. 4) The non-profit must be a library, benevolent, charitable, educational or scientific institution.
The first three conditions are undisputable. The fourth also has clear court cases defining a charitable group as one that provides a building for use by the public and lessens the burden of government. The ICE facilities are obviously open to the public. With Wexford, Kalkaska and Otsego counties all operating arenas at a substantial cost to the taxpayers, it is also obvious that ICE is lessening that burden for Grand Traverse County.
When first put on the tax rolls, East Bay Township said they did no research but were ordered by Lori Spencer to place ICE on the tax rolls. Ms. Spencer’s justification was that she didn’t know of any tax exempt arenas in the state. That isn’t one of the four test items, and is only a tribute to the fantastic job the community has done to support the unique ICE organization.
Grand Traverse County has officially backed off, and is no longer part of the tax tribunal case. Now, East Bay Township is continuing to seek taxes, asserting that political pressure from the county is their reason for continuing the fight.
Meanwhile, ICE continues to rack up legal bills to fight the community it serves. The issue clearly threatens the survival of the organization since the property taxes assessed ICE would amount to almost $200,000 per year. Without the Red Wings training camp or a junior hockey team, ICE has suffered a drop in revenues. ICE costs would jump from $170/hr. to approximately $220/hr. to cover the taxes.
Hopefully the community will rally and give some support. As taxpayers who elect and hire our government officials, I don’t believe the community is behind forcing this issue and trying to win a case which will only hurt us if we do.

Michael Anton is a local CPA and the treasurer of the ICE organization.

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