(IUP's Robertshaw Building -- Photo taken by Michael Sullivan)
The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania denied a petition Friday from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education for tax immunity in regard to the Robertshaw Building on Rose Street in White Township, Pa.
According to court documents, IUP and PASSHE filed a petition for tax immunity Sept. 30, 2011, against the Indiana Area School District, Indiana County, and the Indiana County Board of Assessment Appeals. The petition came less than a month after President Judge Bonnie B. Leadbetter denied a previous petition for tax exemption Aug. 5.
The document states that until 2011, the property was listed as exempt from taxation by the Indiana County Assessment Office as part of the Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone, which expired in 2011.
But the conflict began in 2010.
According to the document, IUP received a tax notice in March 2010 demanding more than $30,000 in taxes on property valued at nearly $1 million. But on July 10, 2010, an Indiana County assessor allegedly discovered commercial leases on campus and filed a notice removing the exempt status.
The commercial leases in the document refer to Eberly College of Business and Information Technology's Indiana County Small Business Incubator housed in the Robertshaw Building.
(Indiana County Small Business Incubator -- Photo taken by Michael Sullivan)
The incubator's website states that the incubator, established in 1986, is "dedicated to increasing Indiana County's economic prosperity by encouraging high-tech development and industrial diversification" by assisting start-up and developing companies. Services provided include a low initial rent and student interns.
IUP does receive rent from participating companies, however, in the document, PASSHE argued that it is equal to the state in regard to tax immunity. Judge Bernard L. McGinley ruled that PASSHE is not equal to the state and that it acted outside of its government purpose. However, he stated there wasn't enough evidence to determine taxability.
Court documents state that taxes would be collected on the portions of PASSHE's property where commercial rent is collected.