The Leavenworth County Commission agreed Thursday to oppose a bill now in the Kansas Legislature that would exempt “health clubs” from the tax rolls.
Senate Bill 72 as introduced would exempt qualified health clubs exempt from both property taxes and sales taxes.
According to the Senate record, the Senate Committee on Assessment and Taxation voted to strike the sales tax exemption before sending the bill to the full Senate. On the floor, two amendments were offered ― including one from Sen. Tom Holland, a Democrat from the 3rd District that includes a portion of Leavenworth County, that would have left the decision to exempt the taxes to county commissions – but both failed. The bill was approved 25-14, with Leavenworth's 5th District Senator Steve Fitzgerald voting in favor and Holland voting against.
Even without the sales tax exemption, the bill had the potential to cost the county considerable tax revenues, County Administrator Pat Hurley said.
“I checked with (County Appraiser) Bob Weber as to the impact and loss of revenue to this county,” he said. “He estimates it would be at least $58,200.”
As defined in the proposed statute, among those clubs eligible would be any facility that contains “cardio, weight training or strength and conditioning equipment.”
The statute does not include health spas, dance or martial arts studios, swimming pools, golf clubs or those facilities primarily geared toward “weight control,” though Hurley said the language of the bill was somewhat fuzzy as to what facilities would qualify.
“It's not clear in the bill how far the definition goes,” and how broadly the language could be interpreted, Hurley said.
With businesses like senior living facilities also boasting fitness equipment and programs, Commissioner Dennis Bixby said that lack of specificity is what concerned him.
“I could stick a broomstick between two watermelons and classify a grocery store as a health club,” he said.
Now in the House Tax Committee, Hurley said bill does still have a chance of passing despite the fact that the chambers are supposed to be in conference committees following the turnaround period. The city of Leavenworth has already voiced opposition to the bill, he said. The commission agreed to do the same.