If you, like me, read the legal notices in the newspaper you might have noticed the large section in Wednesday, April 4th’s edition of the News and Tribune that lists properties for sale for delinquent taxes or special assessments. Among these properties are two vacant lots currently owned by the Charlestown Foundation for Excellence, Inc. The Foundation’s website explains that it is a “non-profit foundation that uses its donated resources to facilitate the highest level of academic performance within Charlestown Schools.” (You might recognize the name, since this is the Foundation that recognizes Seniors from the high school every year by placing their banners on the light posts in town.) The two parcels in question are vacant lots on Madison Street (although the paper incorrectly labels one on Main). I was curious about why these properties were listed in the sale, so I took a trip to the Clark County Courthouse to pull public records to learn more.
The two lots in question were deeded to the Charlestown Foundation for Excellence, Inc for $1,348.60 by Clark County, which obtained the properties due to delinquencies in ad valorem real estate taxes unpaid by the previous owner. The Quit Claim Deed documenting this transaction was recorded on January 27, 2016. No record of the $1,348.60 payment was found at the Treasurer’s office.
Since the time of transfer, the property taxes for said properties have remained unpaid. The Foundation, as a non-profit agency, appears to be entitled to a tax waiver, but such waiver has not been applied because no evidence that the Foundation ever filed appropriate paperwork with the County can be located.
At this point, the total of delinquent taxes on both properties is $4,163.26.
This investigation raises some questions worth considering and begging for answers.
- Why is a private, non-profit organization linked so closely to the City? (Notice that the official address for the incorporation is that of City Hall.)
- Why is a private, non-profit organization that concerns itself with improving academic performance in Charlestown Schools purchasing vacant lots adjacent to the Mayor’s private residence?
- Why can no record of the required $1,348.60 purchase price be located at the Treasurer’s office?
- Why did the responsible party from the Foundation not file appropriate paperwork to have the taxes waived?
- Why did a Foundation that boasts of “Excellence” not pay their taxes?
Let me be clear that I am NOT trying to suggest that an organization dedicated to academic success is a problem. As an educator, I have a strong appreciation for efforts to help students succeed. What concerns me is the appearance that something is amiss with the administration of this organization when it comes to this property.
If anyone has any answers to these questions or can help provide relevant information to help folks understand what’s gone wrong here, please contact me. I’m sure I’m not alone in my desire to understand.
Copies of the documents that informed this investigation are available here: Charlestown Foundation for Excellence Tax Info