May 5, 2009
A dispute has arisen over who owes more than $59,000 in past-due property taxes on the U.S. Olympic Committee headquarters being built in downtown Colorado Springs, the latest in a series of snags that have tripped the signature project.
"No money as of today," El Paso County Treasurer Sandra Damron said Tuesday.
As far as Ray Marshall, the developer who owns the South Tejon Street building, is concerned, the taxes haven't been paid because he doesn't owe any.
"Under the economic development agreement (between and among the city, the USOC and Marshall's LandCo Equity Partners), it is clear that no property taxes are legally owed because of the tax-exempt status of the city and the USOC," said Steve Long, an attorney for Marshall.
Damron has a different interpretation.
"They don't own the property. (Marshall) owns the property, and our tax figures are the 2008 taxes," she said.
Long declined to respond to Damron's comments, pointing instead to the agreement, which states that the USOC "shall not be responsible to pay any property taxes ... levied against the USOC Office Space."
The year-old agreement, however, is tied up in a lawsuit that Marshall filed against the city and the USOC in March.
Although court documents filed Monday state that a settlement is in the works, Marshall claimed in the lawsuit that neither the city nor the USOC was living up to its obligations.
Under the agreement, the city was supposed to have issued certificates of participation in November to buy the top five floors of the six-floor building, which is still under construction.
But that never happened.
Damron said taxes would be owed for the portion of 2008 that Marshall owned the property.
"The property belongs, belonged and may still belong, for all I know, to the 27 South Tejon Partners, LLC, and they're the ones that are responsible for paying the 2008 taxes," she said.
Marshall was the registered agent of the company when it was formed in 2005, according to the Secretary of State's Office.
A woman who answered the locked door at Marshall's downtown office referred inquiries to a public relations firm, which referred questions to Marshall's attorney.
This year, the first half of property taxes was due Feb. 28, and the second half will be due June 15, Damron said. If taxes were paid in full, however, the deadline was April 30.
Taxes that haven't been paid by June 15 are considered delinquent.
"But we do charge interest" in the meantime, Damron said.
The 2008 property tax bill on the headquarters building has accrued $599 in interest, and an additional $599 will accrue monthly.
Marshall didn't pay the property taxes on the building on time last year either.
The property tax bill of $47,433, plus about $2,400 in interest, was paid Oct. 1. That's about a month before the tax lien on the building would have been sold, Damron said.
A property owner has three years to cure the lien by paying the bill and any interest. If they fail to do so, whoever bought the lien can get the deed.
"That almost never happens," Damron said.