Earlier this year, the district voted to challenge the tax-exempt status of four organizations, explaining that the district, which includes a state park and prison, needs to enlarge its tax base.
While ruling in favor of Ursinus and the 4-H, the assessment appeals board stripped the Kline-Styer-McCann Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7155 in Trappe and the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Philadelphia Camp Arthur-Reeta in Zieglerville of their tax-exempt status.
A spokesman for the Camp Arthur-Reeta, David Friedman, said that attorneys for the 220-acre overnight camp, which receives subsidies from the Federation of Jewish Agencies of Greater Philadelphia, plan to appeal the board's ruling.
The VFW will decide whether to appeal near the end of the month, according to its attorney, Thomas Keenan of Collegeville. The post operates seven days a week for its members and guests, and owns a football field used free of charge by local teams.
According to Rothstein, the school board's appeal of the 4-H decision would be based on the fact that the foundation derives income from four tenants that rent space on the property: a federal and county soil conservation program; the state agricultural conservation; the state Agriculture Department and a day-care center that rents 1,800 square feet for $500 a month.
The 13.6-acre 4-H Foundation offers agricultural and home economics programs to children and is administered through Pennsylvania State University.
The Ursinus appeal, she said, would be based on a five-part test established by the State Supreme Court in 1985, which ruled that only public charities can be exempt from taxes. That ruling defines a public charity as an organization that advances a charitable purpose; donates a substantial portion of its services; benefits a class of people who are legitimate subjects of charity; relieves the government of some of its burden, and operates entirely free from private profit motive.
Rothstein argued at the June 9 hearing on Ursinus that the college does not meet the test, largely because it does not benefit a needy group of people. Robert L. Brant Jr., an attorney for Ursinus, argued that the college should be tax-exempt because all operations are tied to education.
More than $540,000 in taxes could be derived from Ursinus if the decision was reversed. A state Senate bill that would protect private colleges and universities from such challenges is pending before the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Rothstein said she did not see any negative aspects to the board appealing.
The district, which is one of several districts in the state challenging the tax-exempt status of nonprofit organizations, includes Skippack, Perkiomen and Frederick Townships and Collegeville, Trappe and Schwenksville Boroughs.