October 22, 2014

Sterling Sportsman’s Association stripped of tax reduction

Group’s annual property tax to go from $100 to $3,500

Tim Barnum
The Sterling Sportsman's Association headquarters in Deep River Township.
Posted

DEEP RIVER TOWNSHIP — Some community events, scholarships and classes offered by the Sterling Sportsman’s Association (SSA) may be in peril now that the organization is no longer privy to a property tax reduction.

Steve Hoag, the group’s president, said the possibility of cutting some of the aforementioned items out of the association’s budget may become a reality, now that the club owes roughly $3,500 in property taxes for 2009. He added the sportsmen will also have to pay back approximately the same amount for the years 2007 and 2008, when the state informs it to do so.

Department of Treasury Public Information Officer Terry Stanton explained how the reduction came about for the SSA, and why it will no longer be upheld.

“The assessor had cited a 1987 Michigan Tax Tribunal (MTT) case (which indicated that property owned by a conservation club should receive a nominal value because of deed restrictions which prohibited building on the property) in setting the assessment for the Sportsmen's Club at $100 for 2006, 2007, and 2008. … A later MTT case (from 1999), said however, such deed restrictions could not be ‘self-imposed,’” said an e-mail sent to the Independent from Stanton, who added that the issue of the group losing its tax reduction actually started with a complaint from a Deep River Township Assessor. “The State Tax Commission ordered the assessor to put the property back on the roll...but the Board of Review ‘undid’ that, putting it back to $100.

“The STC then ordered the assessor to file a 154 petition to add the property back to the roll for 2007, 2008 and 2009 (the years the STC has jurisdiction over). The STC acted on said petition in August, and the parcel went back on the roll.”

Township Clerk Karlia Kroczaleski-Raymond gave details on the SSA’s restricted deed.

“If they dissolve and there is no more sportsman’s club, the property reverts back to the township,” she said.

SSA Vice President Charlie Morton said the $3,500 saved each year was beneficial in continuing programs for the community as well as offering new ones.

Stanton said the group does have the right to appeal the decision, but legal opinions from counsel for the SSA are advising against it.

“He (lawyer) said that he didn’t think we could win it,” Hoag said.

“We decided not to fight it,” Morton said. “We’re just going to do what the law says we have to do.”

Morton also said the assessor who filed the complaint no longer works for the township.

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