Meeting Monday, Red Willow County Commissioners approved a real estate and personal property tax exemption for the Bartley Development Committee, which owns and manages the Bartley Cafe. Other than the cooks, board members and cafe personnel are volunteers, and the cafe provides reduced-cost meals to the elderly and shut-ins.
James Moore, committee chairman, told commissioners with a chuckle that if the cafe had any profits, they would be invested back into the cafe. But the cafe, he said, has "a long way to go" before board members have to figure out what to do with profits.
The cafe was built with donations and volunteers, and previous lease-holders have left it in debt, said committee treasurer Murietta Proud. Board members have taken over management and operation to ensure that the cafe stays open, she said.
County assessor Sandra Kotschwar said the operation meets requirements to be exempt for charitable tax reasons. "In my heart, that's what I would have done," she said, "but I wanted input from the board."
The vote was unanimous to allow the exemption for charitable reasons.
In other business, the board:
* Disapproved a real estate and personal property tax exemption application from the Norris Institute, which is requesting the exemption on a "natural prairie" canyon in the northwest corner of J Street and North Highway 83. The land is to be used for educational purposes, although, Kotschwar said, she has not noticed any activities that would comply with statutes that require regular courses and systematic classes.
Hoyt said he can't justify the exemption, a thought echoed by McNutt, "not until it becomes a full-blown project."
The vote to disallow the exemption was unanimous.
* Received letters from taxpayers requesting re-payment of illegal taxes based upon the unconstitutionality of taxes assessed by Natural Resources Districts under LB 701. McNutt said that county treasurer Marleen Garcia can do nothing about refunding taxes until county treasurers receive guidance from the state attorney general's office.
Commissioners also received more requests for refunds.
* Tabled until 9:30 a.m., Monday, March 16, discussion of the removal of Stan Quigley's fence that borders the county's Road 713, embroiled in a neighborhood dispute last summer.
* Were assured in a letter from the U.S. Department of the Justice that the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) is doing everything it can to get federal recovery act funding out to the states and local governments. The recovery act will inject $737 billion into the American economy, the letter states, providing jobs and much-needed resources for states and local communities.