Tulsa County Assessor Says Montereau Owes Taxes On $107 Million

Friday, May 18th 2012, 10:49 pm

The Tulsa County Assessor says a Tulsa retirement community is not paying the taxes it owes. Now, he's trying to re-evaluate its tax exempt status.

The county assessor says it's state law to periodically look into the status of tax-exempt properties. The property in question, Montereau, has not paid taxes since it opened 12 years ago.

Montereau is an upscale retirement community - tucked away in south Tulsa. Tulsa County Assessor Ken Yazel says they owe taxes on more than $107 million.

Montereau was given notice on Monday that it's time to pay up.

"The taxpayers need to be protected and here's a case where I think they're not getting the protection they need," Yazel said.

To dispute the tax assessor's decision, taxpayers normally have to go through three steps: hearings with the assessor's office, then the equalization board, and finally it would go to court.

But Montereau was granted an emergency stay petition by a Tulsa County Judge, meaning they won't have to sit down with the equalization board.

"Why do they not follow the process like everybody else, as the law requires them to?" Yazel said.

But the attorney representing Montereau says it's up to the court's discretion.

"The district courts of Oklahoma have always had the power to stay proceedings, whether they be court proceedings or administrative proceedings," attorney Joel Wohlgemuth said.

Wohlgemuth says his client shouldn't owe a penny.

Montereau is a licensed continuum care retirement community, which means the facility will continue to fit people's needs as they age. It's also a non-profit community.

"There is a specific Oklahoma statute, which is passed by the legislature, which exempts CCRCs, such as Montereau," Wohlgemuth said.

Yazel says that's true, but only 40-percent of the property would be exempt, the rest just doesn't fit the bill. A hearing is set for June 5th to decide if Montereau will keep its tax-exempt status.