Charitable exemption process overhauled

Published 11:22 pm Wednesday, September 7, 2011

An audit conducted by the new city assessor discovered that 35 nonprofit organizations in the city do not conform to the requirements to be exempted from taxes.

The audit found that of 46 organizations, only 11 went through the proper procedure — obtaining approval from City Council — to have their taxes abated. The other 35 received approval from the city assessor’s office, which is not the proper avenue, new assessor Jean Jackson said during Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

In all, the 46 organizations are receiving tax beaks equal to $1.5 million.

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The city plans to work quickly to bring the organizations, which are not at fault in the situation, into conformity, city spokeswoman Debbie George said Wednesday. City Council passed a new ordinance incorporating old and new requirements.

Under the new ordinance, nonprofit organizations must submit applications to the assessor’s office every three years. Every organization must provide at least half of its services to Suffolk citizens and be providing services in Suffolk for more than three years.

If the application is approved, the process will move to a public hearing and City Council approval.

For the organizations that currently are not in compliance, the assessor will notify them by letter and give them the opportunity to apply. A potential 35 public hearings will have to be scheduled.

Sam Glasscock, a member of the board of directors of the Obici Healthcare Foundation, appeared at Wednesday’s meeting to remind City Council members that many of the nonprofit organizations are supplementing government services to help improve the quality of life.

“We know that you, as council members, are interested in improving the quality of life,” he said, adding that the grants provided by his organization have benefited the city’s residents more than the taxes could have.