Grand County will appeal YMCA tax case
The Grand County Board of Commissioners has moved to file an appeal in a recent decision to grant Snow Mountain Ranch a full property tax exemption for religious use. The board moved at their Aug. 12 meeting to allow Grand County Attorney Anthony "Jack" DiCola to move forward filing appeal with the Colorado Court of Appeals. DiCola had recommended that Grand County Commissioners appeal the decision from the Colorado Board of Assessment Appeals to grant religious use tax exemptions to YMCA of the Rockies, which owns Snow Mountain Ranch. "With taxes, we just want to get it right," DiCola told the Sky-Hi News. "There's really no question that we need an appellate decision on this issue." DiCola, who met with attorneys for Larimer County over the weekend, said during the board meeting that the state constitution contradicts the Board of Assessment Appeals' ruling. "I don't believe the YMCA property is used solely and exclusively for religious purposes," DiCola said. "I believe we should appeal this decision." Larimer County attorneys made the same recommendation to the Larimer County Board of Commissioners at their Aug. 12 meeting, DiCola said. The exemption means that YMCA of the Rockies does not have to pay the more than $200,000 annual property tax bill for its Snow Mountain Ranch Property. It also means that Grand County will have to refund taxes paid in 2002, 2003 and 2004. YMCA of the Rockies, which is headquartered in Estes Park, first applied for religious purposes and charitable use property tax exemptions for two of its properties, Snow Mountain Ranch and the Estes Park Center, in December 2003. The Property Tax Administrator eventually granted both exemptions, though the Board of Assessment Appeals reversed them. The Colorado Court of Appeals vacated the Board of Assessment Appeals' decisions in April 2013. After the appellate ruling, the Board of Assessment Appeals reversed its previous ruling and granted YMCA of the Rockies religious use exemptions. It declined to rule on the charitable exemption. DiCola told the Sky-Hi News that he was frustrated with the Board of Assessment Appeals' decision, and called the board's and the Colorado Property Tax Administrator's handling of the cases a "real failure." He criticized the lengthiness of proceedings and the Board of Assessment Appeals' decision not to rule on the charitable use exemption. DiCola did say that he believed the counties had a chance for a successful appeal. "I wouldn't recommend that we appeal it if I wasn't at least optimistic," DiCola said. Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.