Updated Fri, Mar 21, 2014 7:50 am
The Ohio Department of Taxation has determined that Holzer Clinic of Athens qualifies for a property tax exemption, but school districts have an opportunity to present evidence to the contrary.
It is unclear whether such evidence will be offered.
Federal Hocking Local Schools and Tri-County Career Center had earlier objected when Holzer filed for tax-exempt status last September. Federal Hocking stands to lose the most revenue, about $100,000 annually, if the exemption is fully granted.
“We sent a letter on March 13, 2014 to the school districts that objected to the exemption, indicating our intent to grant the exemption pursuant to (Ohio law),” said taxation department spokesman Gary Gudmundson. “The districts have 30 days to respond.”
Federal Hocking officials contacted Wednesday indicated they were unaware of having received such a letter, however career center Supt. Bill Wittman sent The Messenger a copy of a letter (actually dated March 14) that his school’s attorney had received.
“The evidence on record shows that the property is used as medical facilities, and was financed in whole or in part by obligations issued by a public hospital agency, as required by (the tax exemption law),” the letter reads. “The property is therefore entitled to exemption for tax year 2013.”
The tax bills on the parcels listed in the letter totaled $197,620 for tax year 2013, according to the Athens County Auditor’s Office.
Tri-County Career Center initially objected in order to lend support to Federal Hocking, Wittman has said. The career center’s annual share of Holzer’s tax bill is less than $8,000.
Wittman said it will be up to the school board to determine if it wants to submit evidence to the Division of Tax Equalization as the letter indicates the school can do. Wittman said the benefit of pursuing the matter will have to be weighed against the cost.
Federal Hocking Supt. George Wood could not be reached for comment.
Gudmundson said he expects a final determination on the request for tax-exempt status to be made in mid- to late April.
He said the schools would have the option of appealing that determination to the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals.
In 2012, Holzer Clinic in Athens was purchased by Holzer Health System, a not-for-profit corporation, for $21 million. Holzer Health System was formed by a merger between between the Holzer Clinic company (which operated several clinics) and Holzer Consolidated Health Systems, which operated medical centers in Gallipolis and Jackson.
Karrie Davison, spokeswoman for Holzer Health System, told The Messenger last fall that prior to the merger, Holzer Clinic in Athens was a for-profit enterprise, but that now it is not-for-profit.