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Monday, June 9, 2014
by Christine Yeres
New Castle’s tax roll for 2014 shows that the Legionaries of Christ property at 773 Armonk Road has lost its tax exempt status. The owners may appeal the decision, but for now instead of the $2,500 in taxes the property owner paid last year, it goes back on the rolls. Had it not been exempt for 2013, it would have paid around $134,000 to the Bedford school district, $27,000 to the Town of New Castle and $35,000 to Westchester County.
Neighbors of the property have for years claimed that it was not being used for its exempt-status religious purpose. In February 2014 NCNOW filed a request for Town Assessor Phil Platz to investigate the claim, especially since the property had been for sale since late 2011. [See 98-acre Legionaries of Christ property on the Armonk Road is up for sale, NCNOW.org, 10/7/11.]
On March 24, 2014, Platz wrote to the property owner pointing out that “the Property is reportedly the subject of an option to purchase, and the nature and frequency of its continued use for tax exempt purposes is unclear.” Platz went on to request “an itemization as to the tax exempt activities undertaken in the past year on the property” as well as documentation that relates to or evidences Legion of Christ, Inc.‘s use of the property and the structures thereon.”
On May 14, Rev. Jose Felix Ortega, Secretary to the Legion of Christ, Inc., responded, “The renewal application tendered by the Legion on Febuary 24, 2014 disclosed that the property is being offered for sale but continues to be used for charitable purposes. Regrettably, we do not have an itemized list of use of the Property for the year but will certainly maintain one moving forward.”
Based on Ortega’s response, Platz removed the exempt status. The organization has the right to appeal the decision.
Below is the Assessor’s current computer record of the property: