Update, 8:45 p.m.
York City Council passed a resolution exonerating Logos Academy, a private, non-charter school that serves low-income students, from its 2013 taxes during a council meeting Tuesday night.
Logos was awarded tax-exempt status beginning in 2014, but accrued about $40,000, including fines, for its 2013 property tax bill.
The school requested to enter into a Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement with the city in which it will pay $5,000 a year for five years. The school also said it would include a good-faith clause to continue payments after the five-year agreement is up.
Council approved the request unanimously.
For two years, Logos Academy footed a $4,500 annual real estate tax bill for its property at 250 West King Street — despite the fact that the private, non-charter would have qualified as a tax-free entity.
The payments were part of an effort to build community partnerships before the school chose to seek — and was granted — an exemption in 2012, a lawyer for the school said last week during a City Council meeting.
Now, school officials are hoping Council will keep those payments in mind as they seek to be exonerated from the city’s bill and future tax bills through a deal worked out with Michael O’Rourke, the city’s business administrator.
Despite being granted an exemption, Logos is facing a budget gap because of a property reassessment triggered by the application process. With significant infrastructure improvements made after the academy purchased the site, the real estate tax bill shot up to about $36,000.
And the exemption did not take effect until 2014, meaning that the school was on the hook for its 2013 bill, which including fines, now totals more than $40,000.
Logos also has not paid its 2013 school taxes, which, with fines, now total nearly $88,000. It was not clear at the meeting whether Logos has petitioned the district for exoneration from its school taxes. Jason Lewis, dean of the school, did not return a call for comment.
Under a resolution reviewed by City Council during the committee meeting, Logos is requesting to enter into a Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement. While details of the agreement were not included in agenda documents, Lewis said the terms established included payments of $5,000 for five years and a good-faith agreement to continue with annual contributions of $4,500 after the agreement runs out.
The conversation turned heated, however, when council members questioned why the terms didn’t cover the 2013 tax bill from the city in full, as a recently approved exoneration agreement with Stillmeadow Church of the Nazarene did.
Lewis told council that a five-year agreement was all that he was able to authorize and that he would have to take a longer agreement before the school’s board of directors.
“I don’t know what my board’s position on taxes is,” he said.
Without relief, the school’s penalties will keep adding up — making for a difficult situation, officials said.
“You need this nonprofit organization to partner with you,” a lawyer for the school said.
Council will vote on the resolution at tonight’s meeting, which beings at 6:30 p.m.