Luxury senior center wants non-profit status, would cost Kirkwood $1 million

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by KMOV.com Staff

KMOV.com

Posted on March 7, 2013 at 11:48 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 8 at 6:08 AM

(KMOV.com) -- A luxury living center in St. Louis County is trying to get out of paying tax bill, and the county assessor is having a hard time seeing why.

The owner of Aberdeen Heights, Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America, wants to make the luxury retirement center a non-profit facility.

It already has 18 similar non-profit communities across the country.

St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman says he doesn’t know what’s going on in other states, but in St. Louis County he expects non-profits to be more charitable if they want to be exempt from paying taxes.

“If you’re operating a high-end senior citizen facility with a billiards room and all sorts of elaborate services and you charge thousands of dollars to get in and provide very little charitable care, to me that looks like a business not a charity,” he said.

Zimmerman says he’s carefully reviewed Aberdeen Heights’ request for tax exemption and he doesn’t like what he sees.

According to the assessor, residents can pay more than $770,000 to live out their lives here.

There are 326 beds available in the facility.

“Six of them may hypothetically be available for people on Medicaid,” said Zimmerman. “We haven’t seen evidence they’ve let in at least one person who didn’t have the ability to pay.”

He adds Kirkwood may lose $1 million in taxes a year if the facility becomes tax exempt. This has other members of the community on edge as well.

“When they came into our community three or four years ago they stated they would be paying their taxes,” said Board of Education President Scott Stream

He estimates the Kirkwood School District would lose $700,000 a year were the facility to stop paying taxes.

“[It] could impact a lot of students, classroom programs classroom teachers,” he said. “We don’t know yet how it will all play out “

Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America released a statement on their application for non-profit status. It read:

“A tax-exempt status allows us to reinvest in our residents, our communities and the greater St. Louis community.”

The Board of Equalization has the final decision and will hold a public hearing April 17 on the request.

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