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County treasurer files tax lien against Role Models America

April 26, 2002|BY JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

CASCADE - Washington County's treasurer has filed for a tax lien against the Role Models America Inc. program, alleging the school is delinquent on personal property taxes.

Role Models President and founder Robert Alexander said additional documentation may be all that is required to rectify the situation.

The military-style academy for high school dropouts at the former Fort Ritchie U.S. Army base in northeastern Washington County owes $27,729 in personal property taxes, records in Washington County Circuit Court allege. Personal property taxes are levied on furnishings, equipment and fixtures.

The taxes for the current fiscal year became delinquent on Oct. 1 and Treasurer Todd Hershey filed for a tax lien on Tuesday, court records state. The lien is for $35,216, including $1,941 in interest and $5,546 in penalties and attorney's fees.

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Alexander said Wednesday he didn't believe the school should owe personal property taxes because Role Models is a nonprofit 501(c)3 program. Also, the school got its furniture from federal government surplus and it remains owned by the government for the first 18 months, he said.

The school needs to file the appropriate paperwork to prove it doesn't owe the money, said Michael Griffin with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation in Baltimore.

Nonprofit groups are not automatically exempt from paying personal property taxes, said Griffin, assessment supervisor for personal property. There are tighter rules for personal property tax exemptions than there are for income and sales tax exemptions, he said.

If the furnishings are owned by the federal government, the school might be exempt, Griffin said Thursday. He said the proper paperwork must be filed.

Hershey said the tax lien request won't be withdrawn unless the school can prove it isn't required to pay the tax.

Federal funding for Role Models will end May 31 when a $10 million, two-year grant period ends, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Role Models officials are seeking private funding and have said they hope to have the grant renewed.

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