Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

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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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