Having persuaded only the Kansas Senate last year to pass a bill that would exempt for-profit health clubs from property taxes, Genesis Health Clubs owner Rodney Steven asked a House committee last week to level the playing field with the nonprofit YMCA. “My direct competition is from tax-exempt facilities,” Steven said. “These are buildings that are twice our size and they are able to charge half our price because they do not pay or charge any sales tax, no property tax, no income tax.” But the exemption for for-profit clubs would cost the state and especially local governments a lot of revenue, while inviting similar tax-break requests from private golf courses, karate schools and more. A separate measure, HB 2498, would repeal the property-tax exemption for “community service organizations providing humanitarian services” such as YMCAs. Neither bill reflects the YMCA’s unique role in serving low-income populations and especially children and youths.
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