Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Silver Springs Property Owners' Recreational Improvement District No. 30 of Haskell v. Arey

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

November 6, 2019

SILVER SPRINGS PROPERTY OWNERS' RECREATIONAL IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT NO. 30 OF HASKELL, ARKANSAS APPELLANT
v.
JEFF AREY, SALINE COUNTY JUDGE; BOB RAMSEY, SALINE COUNTY ASSESSOR; JOY BALLARD, SALINE COUNTY COLLECTOR; SALINE COUNTY QUORUM COURT; SALINE COUNTY BOARD OF EQUALIZATION; AND SALINE COUNTY, ARKANSAS APPELLEES

          APPEAL FROM THE SALINE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [N O . 63CV - 16 - 932 ] HONORABLE GRISHAM PHILLIPS, JUDGE

          Baxter Law Firm, by: Bobby McCallister, for appellant.

          Clay Ford, for appellees.

          LARRYD. VAUGHT, JUDGE

         Silver Springs Property Owners' Recreational Improvement District No. 30 of Haskell, Arkansas ("Silver Springs" or "the District"), appeals the Saline County Circuit Court's denial of its request for a public-use/public-ownership exemption to ad valorem taxation. We affirm.

         Silver Springs is a statutorily created, quasi-governmental entity that exists in Haskell, Arkansas. It encompasses a residential neighborhood and 156 acres of recreational facilities, which include a golf course, tennis courts, a swimming pool, and two buildings. Silver Springs purchased the recreational facilities in 2011 from Doug Loftin, who originally created the improvement district and developed the neighborhood.

         The golf course, the swimming pool, and all other facilities on the property are open to the public and have been since before they were purchased by the improvement district. There are fees for the use of these facilities. There are also assessments against the properties in the neighborhood. The assessment is $540 per year for each lot. The daily fee for playing golf at the course for the general public is $25. The daily fee for use of the pool is $5. A membership to the facility can be purchased for $99 per month for nonresidents and $59 per month for residents who pay a $540 per-year assessment to the District. Those residents are given a credit of $40 per month toward their membership to the recreational facility, bringing their monthly payment down from $99 per month to $59.

         Portions of the clubhouse are leased to a third-party vendor that provides restaurant services, manages the bar, and occasionally operates the cash register in order to take payment from golfers. The third-party vendor operates the restaurant for profit.

         Since the purchase of the recreational facilities by the District, ad valorem taxes have not been paid to Saline County. Doug Loftin made the District commissioners aware of this in 2015, and the District commissioners then filed a request to be declared exempt from ad valorem taxation as a result of the public-ownership/public-use exemption.

         The Saline County Judge denied the District's request for exempt status, and the matter was appealed to the Saline County Circuit Court. The circuit court likewise denied the exemption on October 29, 2018, and this appeal followed.

          The party seeking a tax exemption has the burden of proving its claim for tax-exempt status beyond a reasonable doubt.[1] Pledger v. Baldor Int'l, 309 Ark. 30, 827 S.W.2d 646 (1992). Tax exemptions are strictly construed against the exemption and "to doubt is to deny the exemption." Id. at 33, 827 S.W.2d at 648. The court in Arkansas Conference Ass'n of Seventh Day Adventist, Inc. v. Benton County Board of Equalization, 304 Ark. 95, 800 S.W.2d 426 (1990), stated that

[i]n Arkansas the rule of strict construction applies to tax exemptions, therefore the term "exclusively" is to be narrowly construed. Hilger v. Harding College, 231 Ark. 686, 331 S.W.2d 851 (1960). Moreover, "[t]o determine whether property is used 'exclusively' for a particular purpose, generally it is necessary to look to the primary use to which the property is put and not to the secondary use." 2 T. Cooley, The Law of Taxation § 685 (4th ed. 1924).

304 Ark. at 97, 800 S.W.2d at 427. On appeal, we review such cases de novo and will not reverse absent a finding that the circuit court's finding was clearly erroneous. Id.

         Under article 16, section 5 of the Arkansas Constitution, public property used exclusively for public purposes shall be exempt from taxation. Arkansas Code Annotated section 26-3-301(10) (Repl. 2012) states that: "[p]ublic property which may be reserved for use by any person or organization, with or without fee for such use, and is being used exclusively for public purposes, regardless of whether the event for which the property is reserved is open for attendance or participation by the general public" shall be exempt from taxation. It is not enough that public ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.