City opposes property tax exemption for health clubs

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

Leavenworth city commissioners have voiced their objection to a proposal for exempting health clubs from property taxes.

“The City Commission believes that allowing one market segment to leave the property tax pool is unfair to the rest of our businesses and residents,” City Manager Kramer wrote in a letter to state legislators who represent the Leavenworth area.

The letter addresses a possible amendment to a state bill dealing with property taxation. The amendment, if it were to be approved, would exempt for-profit health clubs from property taxes.

Supporters for such a measure have argued it is unfair for for-profit health clubs that pay property taxes to compete against nonprofit fitness centers and city-owned facilities that are not required to pay property taxes.

But in his letter to lawmakers, Kramer suggested charging a payment in lieu of taxes to tax exempt health clubs instead of creating an exemption for for-profit companies.

Rodney Steven, owner of Genesis Health Clubs, reportedly has been supporting the creation of a property tax exemption for health clubs.

Genesis Health Clubs operates a facility in Leavenworth.

In his letter, Kramer wrote that Genesis Health Clubs “joins the rest of our taxpaying residents and businesses to fund our Police Department, Fire Department, our parks, our roads, our building inspectors, our community center and on and on. Surely, if the legislature believes there are unfair business forces in play, we can come up with a better solution than simply removing a business from its obligation to contribute to the common cause.”

During a Leavenworth City Commission meeting last week, Commissioner Mark Preisinger noted that news reports have indicated Genesis Health Clubs has unpaid property taxes for some of its locations.

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