Logos Academy wants its $116,938.07 back.
Officials of the York City private school filed a lawsuit Tuesday that argues Logos should never have been required to pay 2013 property taxes.
They want the York County Court of Common Pleas to order the York City School District to refund the school's $116,938.07 payment.
In addition to the district, the York County Assessment and Tax Claim Office is named as a defendant in the suit.
Logos, a faith-based school funded primarily by private donations, was granted tax-exempt status in May of last year for its property at 250 W. King St.
But the change did not go into effect until the beginning of 2014.
So the school approached the city, county and district with a request for exoneration of its 2013 tax bill — a total of about $150,000, according to Aaron Anderson, a local pastor and Logos board member.
County officials agreed to the exoneration. The York City Council approved an "amicable" agreement that Logos would make an annual payment in lieu of taxes, Anderson said.
"We felt like the commissioners and city council really handled the matter with justice," Anderson said.
Denial: The school board, however, voted Oct. 16 to deny Logos' exoneration request.
But, as the Logos lawsuit points out, a district employee sent a letter dated Oct. 17 to Logos' attorney indicating the board had granted the school's request.
"We felt like the matter had been settled and all was good," Anderson said.
A few weeks later, the district's business manager sent a follow-up letter to the Logos attorney explaining that the initial letter was in error.
Margie Orr, president of the district's school board, could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.
History: According to the complaint, Logos purchased land at 250 W. King St. in 2006. Construction of a new school began on the site in 2009, and the school opened the following year.
Between 2007 and 2012, Logos paid all real-estate taxes to the district, county and city — no more than $19,000 annually, according to the suit.
According to Logos' complaint, as a nonprofit entity, the school could have filed for tax-exempt status on the property in 2009.
The school did not file for the exemption because the taxes were affordable and because Logos officials have wanted to support local services through those payments, Anderson said.
Anderson said Logos was seeking to cover its legal bases when it filed for exemption in November 2012 with the Board of Assessment Appeals of York County.
"It really did not mean that we all of a sudden were going to cease making those (payment-in-lieu-of-taxes) payments," he said.
Reassessment: However, filing for tax-exempt status triggered a reassessment of the property in March of last year.
As a result, the property's annual taxes jumped significantly.
Logos argues in its lawsuit the assessment board misapplied state law when it activated the school's tax-exempt status in 2014 even though Logos had filed for exemption in 2012.
"We really feel like the delay to 2014 was unnecessary," Anderson said.
The exemption should have gone into effect on Jan. 1, 2013, according to the lawsuit.
Logos is also alleging the assessment office improperly conducted a "spot reassessment" of its property after the exemption request.
— Reach Erin James at firstname.lastname@example.org.