BOISE For the first time in over 100 years, the YMCA could have to turn people away.
That's one of the things I love about this job, I have never had to say no, said YMCA President and CEO Jim Everett.
That could happen if the Treasure Valley YMCAs are not able to regain their tax exempt status.
A few months ago, during a routine application to maintain its property tax exemption, two fitness companies filed a formal complaint against the Y saying it should no longer be exempt from that tax.
The Ada County commissioners agreed and decreased its status from 100 percent to 19 percent.
Now the Y is fighting to regain what it lost.
Because the Y does not pay property taxes, it's able to provide a lot of services that take a burden off of the government. If it ends up having to pay property taxes, Everett says, those services will likely go away.
On April 7, Shaun Wardle with Idaho Athletic Club and JP Green with Axiom, attended an Ada County Commission meeting that looked at the tax exempt status of several companies. They went to question the West Boise YMCA's tax exempt status.
We asked the county to take a look at that exemption because there was a change in use to the property, said Wardle.
Everett says that change came in the way of a new childcare center. They outgrew the old one and built a new one, 50 percent larger, then used the old space for CrossFit and yoga.
We added some new services that we hadn't previously had, said Everett.
But you did not take away any of the benefits that you've been providing away? asked KTVB.
We actually increased the benefits to everybody, but most notably to kids, said Everett.
Wardle says that new facility is not in question, rather what happens inside the main building.
I wouldn't say that we're targeting the YMCA, said Wardle. I can tell you we're experts in that business. We offer health and fitness facilities. The question really right now is whether everything that happens in that building is a charitable activity.
We've never had anybody else voice a concern about our tax exempt status, so it's a bit coincidental, I'd guess I'd say at the least, said Everett.
What does Idaho Athletic Club get out of this? asked KTVB.
Currently, we get some press, said Wardle with a smile. There isn't any financial gain in it for me. I think really it's a question, is it reasonable to assume that everything that one organization does is always charitable.
Everett and others with the Y have already spoken to the Ada County commissioners and are confident that their charitable work, which is millions of dollars a year, will help restore their tax exempt status.
If we have to pay that, something will have to give and it's not going to be from the people who can afford to pay it, it will probably be from those people who we've never had to turn away, said Everett. We never have to say no. I won't want to be involved with the Y if we get to a point where we can't be the open door that we are right now, to everybody, regardless of their ability to pay.
The YMCA will make its case at 9 a.m. Thursday at the Ada County Commission meeting. The commission is expected to decide the YMCA's tax exempt status at that meeting.
We reached out to commissioners for comment on this story, but they declined saying they don't want to say anything before the hearing, but will comment after.