Save Mart Center’s Taxing Problem

The nonprofit organization set up to build and run Fresno, Calif.’s Save Mart Center is in arrears to the state taxman to the tune of $5 million, the county’s Assessment Appeals Board confirmed Nov. 5.

The California State University, Fresno Association intends to appeal that decision in court, contending the bill – which was first received by the auxiliary five years ago – should be much lower because of its association with the university, according to the Fresno Bee.

An associate VP with the university, who serves as the CSUF Association’s executive director, could not immediately be reached but told the paper that the association will also contest the additional penalties and interest reportedly accruing for five years.

Fresno County Assessor Robert Werner told the Bee his office has been sparring with the association over the property tax bill since the SMG-managed Save Mart Center opened in 2003. The assessor claims the taxes are owed based on how often the arena is used for noneducational purposes and hosts for-profit ventures like concerts, pro wrestling, rodeos and monster truck rallies.

The association counters that the 16,000-capacity Save Mart Center has lower tax liability because it is part of a public education institution.

Fresno County reportedly sent out a $2.4 million bill in 2007, covering three years of assessments, according to the Bee. Werner told the paper the Save Mart Center’s assessable value is $62.5 million based on the for-profits events taking place there.