Meeting for the first time after members of the Adams County Board of Equalization granted a 2019 permissive exemption for Lifehouse Church, board members corrected their action on Tuesday.
Acting as the Board of Equalization, members of the Adams County Board of Supervisors voted 7-0 at their regular meeting first to reconsider a resolution that was adopted June 16 that provided Lifehouse with the 2019 exemption and then also unanimously approved rescinding that resolution.
Board members had voted 4-3 on June 16 to grant Lifehouse’s permissive exemption for the church’s new home it purchased in 2019 — the building formerly occupied by Paul Spady Motors at 2850 Osborne Drive East.
The exemption in question equals $44,765 in property tax.
Lifehouse paid the first half of the property tax, $22,382.50, which was due May 1.
“The Lifehouse Church exemption that was approved at your last Board of Equalization meeting, it was not within the limits of the law,” Adams County Assessor Jackie Russell told the board Tuesday. “We all take an oath to, basically, faithfully and impartially perform the duties of our office according to the law. That wasn’t done. That’s something we need to make sure we’re adhering to.”
The church purchased the former Paul Spady Motors building on May 29, 2019, for $1.5 million.
Part of the building is being used for a for-profit business, but the space used by the church is nonprofit. Russell spoke a year ago with Paige Mackey, children’s pastor and administrator for Lifehouse, about the process of filing for a permissive property tax exemption. Russell informed her the church had missed the July 1 deadline for 2019 and was only eligible for the 2020 year at that point because Lifehouse missed the filing deadline.
The church never filed a permissive exemption for 2019.
If someone purchases a property and converts it to a tax-exempt use, such as a church, the property owner has until July 1 of the same year to file a request for a property tax exemption.
The purchaser has until Dec. 31 to apply for tax-exempt status for the upcoming year.
In this case, the property was purchased in May and the exemption wasn’t sought out before July 1.
After the last county board meeting, Russell asked the state’s property assessment division to weigh in.
“This is something I cannot correct,” she said. “I cannot knowingly break the law and correct this for you.”
Board Chairman Lee Hogan, as well as County Attorney Donna Fegler Daiss, received a letter on Monday about the exemption from Ruth Sorenson, who oversees the state’s property assessment division and oversees county assessors.
The letter cited state statute, which says “Failure to file application on or before July 1 disqualifies the property for an exemption for that tax year.”
Mackey said Lifehouse wasn’t trying to obtain an inappropriate financial advantage.
“As first-time buyers, nobody told us, ‘Oh, wait, there’s one more form now you have to fill out in order for your legal rights as a nonprofit to be tax- exempt,’ ” she said.
Supervisor Dale Curtis said the supervisors know the church was acting in good faith.
“We know that you didn’t do anything, or pull the wool or anything else,” he said.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the supervisors voted in favor of Maxine Strasburg in an isolated land hearing, stating a 33-foot access road will be built on neighboring farm ground with 16 ½ feet on each neighbor’s property to access ground owned by Strasburg and the Ronald D. Strasburg Testamentary Trust.
Construction and maintenance of the road will be paid for by Strasburg.
The supervisors will vote Aug. 4 on the amount of money involved.
In other business, the supervisors:
Unanimously approved signing the 2020-21 juvenile services grant.
Unanimously approved plans for the J&S Parr Subdivision. Applicant Jeffrey Parr of Kenesaw would like to subdivide 2.9 acres on 12th Street west of Overland Avenue. The proposed subdivision is on a pivot corner. Parr said during the meeting he plans to build a residence on the property. There are no other residences in that quarter.
Unanimously approved a cost sharing agreement between Adams County and Howard’s Glass for a portion of the Adams County Office Building parking lot resurfacing.
Unanimously approved the chairman’s signature for an audit acknowledgement relating to the victim witness grant.
Unanimously approved a resolution outlining revisions to the Adams County Wellness Program, which is now handled by the Mary Lanning Healthcare wellness department.
Unanimously approved, separately, road maintenance and gravel agreements between Adams County and Roseland Township through the end of 2020.
Unanimously approved a resolution allowing county bond counsel D.A. Davidson to negotiate with financial institutions for bond rates to pay for the resurfacing of the Adams County Office Building parking lot.
Unanimously approved the chairman’s signature on the parking lot contract with Heartland Concrete, as awarded on June 2.
Unanimously approved the 2020-2021 collective bargaining agreement with the Adams County Sheriff’s Office chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police. The agreement includes a 3% salary increase.
Unanimously approved the audit agreement with the state auditor’s office for the audit of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020.
The supervisors also heard 2020-2021 budget requests from representatives of several county departments and organizations that receive county support.
Stefanie Creech, executive director of Area Substance and Alcohol Abuse and Prevention, requested $10,000, which is the same as 2019-2020.
Tom Krueger, county surveyor, requested $27,935, which is a decrease from $28,000 in 2019-2020. The actual expense in 2019-2020 was $21,693.86.
County Treasurer Melanie Curry requested $622,163.40, which is an increase from $616,420.12 in 2019-20. The actual expense in 2019-20 was $594,157.78.
Chris Long, Veterans Service officer, requested $189,637, which is a decrease from $191,175 in 2019-2020. The actual expense in 2019-20 was $192,200.73
Joe Budnick, chief probation officer, requested $39,361, which is the same as 2019-20.
Ron Pughes, Adams County emergency management director, requested $179,240.41, which is an increase from $171,088. The actual expense in 2019-20 was $160,203.61.
Judy Mignery, zoning administrator, requested $69,296, which is an increase from $63,353. The actual expense in 2019-2020 was $56,658.57
Mignery also presented the county board’s 2020-2021 budget, requesting $263,820. That is an increase from $256,134. The actual expense in 2019-2020 was $250,954.36.
Anjanette Bonham, executive director of the Adams County Convention and Visitors Bureau, requested $257,467.27, which is a decrease from $259,821.77.
Tom Reichert, county maintenance supervisor, requested $562,764.74, which was an increase from $540,460.20. The actual expense last year was $485,952.38.
Diane McLeod, with the Adams County Extension Office, requested $227,634, which is a decrease from $228,967. The actual expense last year was $213,108.33.
County Clerk Ramona Thomas requested $384,091.83. The actual expense last year was $329,180.73. The clerk’s office returned $31,145.26.
Tom Hawes, county court magistrate, requested $171,000, which is a decrease from $182,000. The actual expense last year was $130,963.30.