Career Center Objects To Holzer Clinic Seeking Tax-Exempt Status

By
Steve Robb- Athens Messenger staff journalist

Dateline
Updated Mon, Jan 20, 2014 2:00 pm
Holzer Clinic in Athens, Ohio

Tri-County Career Center in Nelsonville has also submitted an objection to Holzer Clinic of Athens filing for tax-exempt status.

The Messenger had previously reported that Federal Hocking School District — which is estimated to lose nearly $100,000 a year if the exemption is fully granted — had filed an objection with the Ohio Department of Taxation.

Bill Wittman, superintendent at Tri-County, confirmed that the Career Center also filed an objection, mostly in support of Federal Hocking.

The Career Center itself stands to lose a much smaller amount from the exemption.

For tax year 2012, the career center received $7,870 in tax money from the clinic.

"We chose to support Federal Hocking in raising an objection as well," Wittman said, noting that Federal Hocking is an affiliated school district of the career center.

Juniors and seniors from Federal Hocking can attend the center.

Even though Holzer is a not-for-profit organization, Federal Hocking does not believe Holzer has demonstrated or provided sufficient information to qualify under the charitable-purpose tax exemption statutes, The Messenger previously reported.

Secondly, the school district believes the Ohio Supreme Court set a precedent when the justices denied a property tax exemption for a similar claim in a 2010 case involving a different health care facility.

In its objection, Tri-County Career Center argues that the application for tax exempt status is too vague.

Also, the center points out that some of the parcels are vacant land.

"...Nowhere in the application does Holzer provide information about plans for any future improvements" to the land, the center's objection states.

Holzer filed for tax-exempt status last fall, but a decision has not been made by the state.

"The case has been assigned to an attorney and is currently under review, but we expect it to take some time," said Ohio Department of Taxation spokesman Gary Gudmundson.

"The applicant hasn’t yet provided much information about the scope of its charitable activities, and both the school district and the (career center) have objected to the exemption of all or at least part of the facilities."

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 previously that prior to the merger, Holzer Clinic in Athens was a for-profit enterprise, but that now it is not-for-profit.

She also pointed out that Holzer Health System, through its various facilities, provided more that $10 million worth of charity health care in fiscal year 2013.

Besides Federal Hocking and Tri-County Career center, full approval of the tax-exempt status for Holzer Clinic of Athens would mean it would no longer be paying taxes that benefit Canaan Twp., Athens County and the city of Athens.

For tax year 2012, Canaan Twp.’s share was $21,203; Athens County, $64,171; and the city of Athens, $8,928.

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