Archive for Monday, March 25, 2013

Senate advances bill giving private health clubs property tax break

March 25, 2013


— The Kansas Senate on Monday advanced a measure that would exempt private health clubs from local property taxes.

Supporters said Senate Bill 72 would even the playing field between for-profit gyms and the nonprofit YMCA and YWCA, which receive tax exemptions.

One of the main proponents of the bill was Rodney Steven, the owner of Genesis Health Clubs, who said it was unfair his clubs have to compete against tax-exempt facilities.

Several conservative senators said the charitable and for-profit clubs should be treated the same for tax purposes.

But opponents said the measure would hurt local governments that depend on the tax revenue.

"This is just a special interest carve-out of the worst kind," said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka.

And opponents said it was unfair to compare nonprofit and for-profit health clubs because the nonprofits provide programs and services to the community that private health clubs don't.

Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, said the bill would deprive local governments of needed revenue without giving them a say in the matter. Holland offered an amendment that would have let local officials decide on whether to grant property tax exemptions to the private health clubs, but that proposal failed 8-24.

Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City, said the whole issue gave the perception of "pay to play" because Genesis Health Club owner Steven had made campaign contributions to Republican leaders in the Senate.

But Sen. Les Donovan, R-Wichita and chair of the Senate Tax Committee, said he received no campaign funds from Steven. "I really don't like those kinds of aspersions," Donovan said.

The bill was given preliminary approval on a voice vote. A final vote was expected Tuesday.


Just_One_Voice 4 years, 12 months ago

Why is there so much corruption at every level of government? Why do business owners get to propose and vote on legislation that will 'exempt' their for-profit business from paying taxes? You know who will make up the tax dollars....the homeowners and working class individuals, that's who!

oldexbeat 4 years, 12 months ago

second bananas have made their move -- no taxes for the people -- brownback istan levels the field -- private salaries capped to keep equal with pay for legislators next. Or like that -- Love living in a 1950s absurdist theatre. Where is Jules Feiffer when he is needed.

texburgh 4 years, 12 months ago

What competition from a YMCA or YWCA in Lawrence is Steven talking about. The only competition here is other for profits. Under this bill hundreds of private clubs around Kansas will be exempt from property taxes; I think this bill also exempts them from collecting sales taxes. Now they just need to organize as an LLC and they won't pay income taxes either.

Guess who gets to pick up the slack?

texburgh 4 years, 12 months ago

My error on the sales tax exemption; it was taken out in committee. But for the whole unvarnished truth about this deal and its impact, read here:

texburgh 4 years, 12 months ago

And it is also interesting to note that Mr. Steven - the health and fitness guru - is the same clan that brought us Spangles.

oldexbeat 4 years, 12 months ago

ps over 200 private golf clubs -- now 'health' clubs ? You think ?

Paul R Getto 4 years, 12 months ago

Molly Ivins once tracked this. The return on many political contributions was 3,000 %. Not a bad investment, no?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 12 months ago

If Steven wants to avoid property taxes, all he has to do is reorganize as a non-profit. No need to change the laws at all.

jafs 4 years, 12 months ago


But, then of course he'd have to abide by the regulations concerning non-profit organizations and deserve the tax break.

This way he gets to eat his cake and have it too - disgusting.

1southernjayhawk 4 years, 12 months ago

I hate that this is being proposed. It is wrong on so many levels. That said, I also don't think that cities/counties/townships/etc. should be in the business of providing rec centers or health clubs, that don't pay property taxes, and that compete directly with private enterprise. This applies to golf courses as well. How can a private golf course, paying probably 30-40% of its gross revenue in property taxes and water bills, compete with a public course which doesn't?

SpeedRacer 4 years, 12 months ago

I can see it now, all of the businesses that are suddenly classified as health and fitness facilities: bag your own grocery stores, pump your own gas, malls that have running/walking clubs, sweat shops.

tomatogrower 4 years, 12 months ago

"But Sen. Les Donovan, R-Wichita and chair of the Senate Tax Committee, said he received no campaign funds from Steven. "I really don't like those kinds of aspersions," Donovan said."

He probably didn't directly receive donations, but he probably received donations from the Chamber of Commerce and other anti tax organizations. How many communities even have a non profit gym? Is Stevens going to lower his rates accordingly? Probably not. He will just get to keep more money, while we have to pay for the infrastructure that supports his business. Get ready for more free loading business people.

LadyJ 4 years, 12 months ago

So soon any for profit business will be exempt from taxes if a nonprofit exists in the state. Examples, resale stores that have to compete with nonprofits such as the Restore or Goodwill. I'm sure there are many for examples. How about private childcare facilities? This is a dangerous step to take.

Keith 4 years, 12 months ago

But Sen. Les Donovan, R-Wichita and chair of the Senate Tax Committee, said he received no campaign funds from Steven. "I really don't like those kinds of aspersions," Donovan said.

If you don't like those kind of aspersions, you should at least attempt to look like you don't deserve them.

Michael LoBurgio 4 years, 12 months ago

A con game in Kansas swipes budget integrity

Beware, Kansans. A band of pickpockets is roaming your state Capitol.

They are not easy to spot, blending easily into the crowd in their coats, ties and business dress. But if you stop to watch certain committee meetings or sessions of the House and Senate, you can see them at work.

They are your state legislators, desperately seeking cash after giving it away in the form of income tax cuts last session.

The disastrous tax move has stripped the Kansas Legislature of its integrity. There is no promise that can’t be broken, no pot of money in state government safe from plunder.

Just look at some of what has been proposed:

• Swipe $500,000 from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks’ cabin rental fund. The department, which is under orders to become financially self-sufficient, had been accruing the money to pay for maintenance projects.

• Dip into an oil and gas depletion trust fund, which uses a portion of the excise tax on oil and gas production to protect rural counties from harm to their property tax bases from those activities. Senators voted to take $5 million from that fund to pay for university building projects.

Read more here:

John Sickels 4 years, 12 months ago

Let's review:

Tax breaks for private gyms GOOD Support for special education, autism, disabled services BAD

These are the priorities of the Kansas legislature and the Republican leadership.

Immoral cretins.

UneasyRider 4 years, 12 months ago

KS legislators, the very best money can buy.

webmocker 4 years, 12 months ago

And next week . . .

Senate considers request from pedophiles for tax breaks due to competition from non-profit churches.

Senate considers request from restaurants and grocery stores for tax breaks due to competition from non-profit food banks.

Senate considers request from landlords due to unfair competition from non-profit homeless shelters.

Lynn Grant 4 years, 12 months ago

Another stupid piece of legislation from this bunch of numbnuts.

globehead 4 years, 12 months ago

And, non-profits are exempt why? Churches are exempt why? They use our streets, sewers, fire protection, police protection, etc. just like everyone else. Instead of exempting anyone which shifts the burden to everyones homes, why not REALLY level the playing field and make anyone using these services pay fairly. This legislature never ceases to come up with moronic ideas. It is becoming a daily routine.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 12 months ago

Because they exist to provide a service to their client base, not to profit from them. The idea is that they return value to the recipients of those services instead of a business owner or shareholder.

Churches are exempt for a more practical reason, I think: if we accept that "the power to tax is the power to destroy," the government could use taxes to destory religious institutions it found inconvenient. The tax-exempt status protects religious institutions from being taxed out of existence by the government.

globehead 4 years, 12 months ago

I don't even begin to accept this. They should dig up your street!

Dave Trabert 4 years, 12 months ago

There's an easy way to fix this. Pass pay-to-play laws for state and local elected officials. It sure would be interesting to see how many indignant elected officials would vote for such a measure.

Of course, pay-to-play would also have to apply to KNEA political contributions.

Government should not be operating health clubs or otherwise competing with employers. Non-profits like the YMCA are competition for the private sector but exempting private health clubs from property taxes only shifts the burden to everyone else. This doesn't hurt local government...they will make it up by raising everyone else's taxes.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 12 months ago

D. Trabert wrote: "Government should not be operating health clubs or otherwise competing with employers." Which is an excellent point. Some other things government should get out of the business of doing: Running prisons--directly competes with prisons-for-profit Running hospitals--directly competes with hospitals-for-profit Tax and fee collection--directly competes with private collection agencies Law enforcement--directly competes with private security agencies

Isn't there a city in GA that outsourced its entire government? So, really, having a government directly competes with private business. Let a private business run your government for you!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 12 months ago

"Let a private business run your government for you!"

That's exactly what AFP has mind. Level and quality of service would be reduced, and it'd be more expensive, but the quarterly profits for stockholders would be great.

Dave Trabert 4 years, 12 months ago

Nonsense. And I work for Kansas Policy Institute, not AFP.

And we're showing legislators how governments are adopting a Better Service, Better Price mentality to bring down the cost of the same (or sometimes better) service.

chootspa 4 years, 12 months ago

All you Koch-funded propaganda fronts look alike.

chootspa 4 years, 12 months ago

Note the non-denial of this particular point. Only a quibble about which Koch group funds him.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 12 months ago

I like my idea better-- let the health clubs that don't want to pay property taxes reorganize into non-profits. They might not make as much money, but people who work for non-profits can still make decent living, and they'd be competitive with the other non-profits (which is what they say they're after.)

voevoda 4 years, 12 months ago

Instead of giving for-profit health clubs a tax exemption, why not give the individuals who buy memberships a tax write-off for that amount, on the grounds that they are improving their health by exercising, and thus saving the state money?

jafs 4 years, 12 months ago

There seems to be a misunderstanding.

Public services aren't supposed to "compete" with private business. They're supposed to be offered as public services and paid for by taxes.

If we decide that we want public recreation facilities, then that's a public service offered here.

Non-profit organizations get tax breaks because they're...non profit. The idea that a for profit institution should get the same tax breaks is absurd.

All of these entities are different - organized and operated differently, with different motivations, and different positive/negative aspects. There's no good reason why they should all be treated the same way.

Gina Becker 4 years, 12 months ago

The best solution is to get rid of non-profit status altogether. All businesses serve society, much better than non-profits do. Non-profits are mechanisms for people to avoid taxes, to pay higher salaries rather than take "nasty profits," and to act like they're actually doing something noble.

Either tax all organizations, or tax none.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

Kansas will be filing bankruptcy soon as the GOP runs out of money intentionally. Thenj Koch industries and Wal-Mart will take over loving those trillions of tax dollars going to their bank accounts.

Then come CEO salaries/Shareholders/Golden Parachutes/Special Interest Campaign Donations/BOD Salaries/Double digit price increases annually/Expenses for Corp Jets/ GUARANTEED PROFIT

Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

Why would a country ever vote republican again after these crimes against america? WAGING WAR ON WOMEN.

--- Bush Reagan Iran – Contra Secret Weapons Affair

--- Did it ever stop?

--- Nixon's Watergate

--- Bush/Cheney dropping the ball thus 9/11/01

--- The Bush/Cheney money hole aka their multi-trillion dollar violent occupation of Iraq,Afghanistan,Pakistan

--- The Reagan/Bush Savings and Loan Heist

--- Bush family of politicians "Rebuilding America's Defences," openly advocates for total global military domination. Many PNAC members held highest-level positions in the George W. Bush administration.

--- The Bush/Cheney Wall Street Bank Fraud on Consumers

--- What did Bush and Henry Paulson do with the $700 billion of bail out money?

--- Why did GW Bush Lie About Social Security?( This would cost taxpayers $4 trillion,place taxpayers insurance money at risk and wreck the economy)

--- Still A Bad Idea – Bush Tax Cuts - The ENTITLEMENT program for the wealthy at the expense of the middle class

--- 11. The repub party declared the day Obama was elected their primary function would be to make Obama a one term president. WAGING WAR AGAINST USA ECONOMY.

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