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Fayette Resources, Inc. v. Fayette County Board of Assessment Appeals

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

December 23, 2014

Fayette Resources, Inc., a Pennsylvania non-profit corporation
v.
Fayette County Board of Assessment Appeals, and North Union Township, Laurel Highlands Area School District Laurel Highlands Area School District and Fayette County. Appeal of: Fayette County Board of Assessment Appeals

Argued November 10, 2014

Page 840

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 841

Appealed from No. 2588 of 2012. Common Pleas Court of the County of Fayette. Wagner, President Judge.

John M. Zeglen, Uniontown, for appellant.

Kenneth J. Yarsky, II, Pittsburgh, for appellees Fayette Resources, Inc. and Fayette County.

BEFORE: HONORABLE BONNIE BRIGANCE LEADBETTER, Judge, HONORABLE PATRICIA A. McCULLOUGH, Judge, HONORABLE JAMES GARDNER COLINS, Senior Judge.

OPINION

Page 842

JAMES GARDNER COLINS, Senior Judge

This is an appeal filed by Fayette County Board of Assessment Appeals (the Board) from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Fayette County (trial court) sustaining consolidated tax assessment appeals filed by Fayette Resources, Inc. (Resources) and holding that Resources is entitled to a real estate tax exemption as a " purely public charity." Because Resources failed to meet its burden to prove that it satisfies all of the requirements for tax exemption as a " purely public charity" under our Supreme Court's decision in Hospital Utilization Project v. Commonwealth, 507 Pa. 1, 487 A.2d 1306 (Pa. 1985), we reverse.

Resources is a Pennsylvania non-profit corporation, exempt from federal income taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. (Trial Court Hearing Transcript (H.T.) at 27-29, Reproduced Record (R.R.) at 69a-71a; Resources Ex. A, R.R. at 94a-118a.) Resources operates group homes for intellectually disabled individuals (persons with an IQ of 70 or less), which generally house three to four intellectually disabled adults per home with staff members on site in rotating shifts to assist them. (H.T. at 10-14, 19-22, R.R. at 52a-56a, 61a-64a.) Resources also provides services for the intellectually disabled, including training in daily living skills and training for employment. ( Id. at 10, 12-13, R.R. at 52a, 54a-55a.)

Page 843

Resources has approximately 80 group homes in Fayette County and other counties in western Pennsylvania, and has over 700 employees. ( Id. at 11, 16, R.R. at 53a, 58a.).

In 2012, Resources filed requests for exemption from real estate taxes for 15 properties that it owns that are located in six municipalities and four school districts in Fayette County. All but one of those properties are group homes and the other property is a training center, where Resources runs programs for the intellectually disabled persons that it serves and trains its staff. ( Id. at 11-13, 55, R.R. at 53a-55a, 57a.) The Board denied the requests for exemption and Resources filed separate appeals from the denials, which were consolidated by the trial ...


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