Southland Christian Church's planned purchase of Lexington Mall will have an adverse effect on organizations that receive tax money linked to the site. That's because as a tax-exempt organization, Southland does not have to pay property taxes on property it owns and occupies, according to state law.
Saul Centers paid $114,965 in property taxes on the four parcels in 2009, according to city records. Those are based on a total assessed value of $10.7 million, down from the property's peak of around $18 million in 1998.
About half of all property taxes in Fayette County go to the Fayette County Public Schools. The state receives 25 percent and the remaining 25 percent is divided among a host of organizations and the city government. The city's general fund, which has been the subject of much wrangling, receives 3 percent, or close to $3,500 from the property. Other organizations receiving property taxes include the Lexington Public Library, which receives 5 percent; LexTran and the health department
Susan Straub, spokeswoman for Mayor Jim Newberry, noted the transition to tax-exempt property is not unusual and said the church would pay payroll taxes, which make up the vast majority of the city's revenues, on workers at the site. Early talk suggests at least 20 staffers, said Kurt Braun, executive director of finance and administration for Southland.
Braun acknowledged that the lack of property taxes is "a very real issue certainly."
"But on the other hand, we know that we would be directly and indirectly driving a number of new jobs with this campus ..." he said. "We think it will be a really positive impact."