Tulsa County Board Rules Montereau Won't Have To Pay $1.5 Million In Taxes

Wednesday, June 20th 2012, 5:51 pm
By: Tess Maune

The battle between three Tulsa County retirement communities and the assessor's office continues.

The Tulsa County Equalization Board ruled Wednesday afternoon they will not have to pay up.

The three retirement communities, including upscale Montereau, have been tax exempt under state law for 12 years.

But they were re-assessed this year by the county, which determined only portions should be exempt.

6/6/2012 Related Story: South Tulsa Retirement Community Loses First Battle With County Assessor

Montereau is an upscale community just for senior citizens.

President and CEO, David Murlette says it's a place seniors go for retirement with refinement.

"These are all walks of life of folks, they moved there to live out their lives and enjoy their retirement and have the health care available," said Murlette.

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.

For those reasons, it's been exempt from paying property taxes since it opened back in 2000.

Montereau was asked to pay $1.5 million in taxes, but Wednesday's decision means it won't have to.

"We're just very pleased that the board of equalization agrees with what we saw was very clear that the communities are exempt by statute, by Oklahoma Statute," Murlette said.

Tulsa County Assessor, Ken Yazel, said it's just part of his job to periodically re-evaluate tax-exempt properties.

"We were attempting to implement the state statute for the taxpayers. We put value on property and we exempt whatever they have licensed to be exempt," Yazel said.

Yazel said he and his legal team will continue to study the legal issues to determine whether to appeal the board's decision.

All three of the communities that went before the Tulsa Equalization Board offer three levels of care: independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing.

The independent living portion was in question.

Yazel said only licensed beds - and any property related to those beds- fall under the tax-exempt status.

"I'm helping taxpayers by implementing the law," Yazel said. "That's my job-- representing them."

But Montereau's CEO argued that the county can't pick and choose portions to tax, because it's all one community.

"That independent living is an integral component of and a necessary component to have a continuum care retirement community," Murlette said.

The board agreed, voting unanimously, that the three retirement communities will keep their tax-exempt status.