Letters

Letters 08-29-2016

Religious Bigotry President Obama has been roundly criticized for his apparent unwillingness to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism.” His critics seem to suggest that through the mere use of that terminology, the defeat of ISIS would be assured...

TC DDA: Focus On Your Mission What on earth is the Traverse City DDA thinking? Purchasing land around (not within) its TIF boundaries and then offering it at a discount to developers? That is not its mission. Sadly enough, it is already falling down on the job regarding what is its mission. Crosswalks are deteriorating all around downtown, trees aren’t trimmed, sidewalks are uneven. Why can’t the DDA do a better job of maintaining what it already has? And still no public restrooms downtown, despite all the tax dollars captured since 1997. What a joke...

European-Americans Are Boring “20 Fascinating People” in northern Michigan -- and every single one is European-American? Sorry, but this is journalistically incorrect. It’s easy for editors to assign and reporters to write stories about people who are already within their personal and professional networks. It’s harder to dig up stuff about people you don’t know and have never met. Harder is better...

Be Aware Of Lawsuit While most non-Indians were sleep walking, local Odawa leaders filed a lawsuit seeking to potentially have most of Emmet County and part of Charlevoix County declared within their reservation and thus under their jurisdiction. This assertion of jurisdiction is embedded in their recently constructed constitution as documentation of their intent...

More Parking Headaches I have another comment to make about downtown TC parking following Pat Sullivan’s recent article. My hubby and I parked in a handicap spot (with a meter) behind Mackinaw Brew Pub for lunch. The handicap spot happens to be 8-10 spaces away from the payment center. Now isn’t that interesting...

Demand Change At Women’s Resource Center Change is needed for the Women’s Resource Center for the Grand Traverse Area (WRCGT). As Patrick Sullivan pointed out in his article, former employees and supporters don’t like the direction WRCGT has taken. As former employees, we are downright terrified at the direction Juliette Schultz and Ralph Soffredine have led the organization...

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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