Tax board won’t exempt apartment complex from $300,000 bill unless cleanup continues

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — A north side apartment complex will have to do more work to keep from paying $300,000 in property taxes next year.

FOX59 started looking into Lakeside Pointe at Nora earlier this year, as residents said they struggled to get the complex to make repairs, even for emergency issues like broken hot water and air conditioning.

In June, the Marion County Health Department initiated a sweep of the complex and handed out more than 200 repair orders. That action prompted the county’s Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals, or PTABOA, to suspend the complex owner’s tax exemption in July.

Records show that owners of the complex have been exempt from paying property taxes for more than 10 years. Paperwork filed by the owners claims that they run a charitable organization that provides affordable housing.

At a PTABOA meeting Friday, board members voted to uphold their suspension for another 60 days. The meeting was the first time anyone responsible for the complex has spoken publicly.

“There were severely bad units there for a while and I do understand that, those are the ones that have been taken care of first, the residents that have had the worst units,” said Meagan Scott, a regional manager for Aloft Management, which runs the complex for the owner, JPC Charities.

Scott and an attorney hired by JPC Charities argued that the property should keep its exemption.

“In my view, and the position of the owner, would be that it is a premature decision to suspend the exemption. … The owner should be allowed to have a reasonable time to correct these items,” attorney Paul Jones said.

“I feel with the tax bill and us trying to afford these items by the contractors and things like that, I don’t know that we will be able to function at that point and be able to take care of these repairs at the same time as having this tax bill,” Scott said.

Two board members, Kevin Robinson and Brian Barton, expressed concern about the state of the property.

“They knew stuff that needed to be fixed, right? But they just didn’t do it, because I drove through the property and it’s bad,” Robinson said.  “What have you guys been doing with that extra money, you haven’t had to pay taxes?”

“It shouldn’t take losing your tax exemption to do the right thing and that’s kind of how I feel is what’s happened here, and if one or two people are still living in bad conditions that’s too many. So, I would love to have this conversation further down the road when the health department gives you guys a clean bill of health,” Barton said.

Keri Kornelsen teaches English as a Second Language classes in the area and spoke at the meeting, saying she advocates for residents who live in the complex.

“I have documentation and pictures and experience advocating for families back to 2015, 2016, and the conditions have just been dangerous and unsafe and ridiculous,” Kornelsen said.

Kornelsen also took issue with a list of charitable services provided to board members, saying she has not seen evidence that any of the services have actually been provided. Scott said she had recently started up English classes on site and admitted that she could not speak for what happened before she started in her position in late May.

Scott said work is underway in the complex to fix issues both inside apartments and outside buildings.

“I’ve been there almost every day trying to make sure these repairs are taken care of,” Scott said. “I know the owners are working really hard and … we have a new asset manager that started just about three weeks ago. He wants, to be honest, his answer to me was he wants it to look like the property down the road.”

Board members will likely take up the issue again at their December meeting. If they do not reinstate the tax exemption, Lakeside Pointe at Nora would have to pay its first tax bill next year.

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