Tri-State Memorial Hospital in Clarkston is seeking a property tax exemption on its medical clinic and a handful of other buildings that would cost Asotin County taxing districts $146,836 in 2020.
Those hardest hit would be the Clarkston School District, which would lose $63,354, and the city of Clarkston, which would miss out on $45,836.
The Washington state Department of Revenue will decide if the request will be granted.
The issue will be discussed at a workshop at 10 a.m. Tuesday, at the Asotin County Annex, 095 Second St., in Asotin, during a session where public comment will not be accepted.
The Asotin County assessor and Asotin County commissioners are expected to attend, along with officials from the hospital, Clarkston School District and the city of Clarkston.
The meeting follows months of behind-the-scenes work on the proposal, which was filed in October, said Asotin County Assessor Jenny Rynearson.
The hospital is asking that its medical clinic, pulmonology clinic, minor care clinic and an office for dietitians be removed from the property tax rolls, said Tri-State CEO Don Wee.
The main hospital building has been tax-exempt since Tri-State’s founding because the organization is a not-for-profit that provides health care, often writing off bad debt of individuals who can’t afford their bills, he said.
The idea of expanding the exemption surfaced when hospital staff were taking a routine look at Tri-State’s assets, not because of a change in state law or a financial need of the hospital, Wee said.
Previously, many of the medical clinic offices leased to for-profit medical practices, but that has changed over the years as a number of the doctors became hospital employees, he said.
“It’s something our team came across and they said, ‘We need to get this clarified or rectified,’ ” Wee said.
What Tri-State wants could create a number of hassles for the nine entities that receive property tax revenue from Asotin County, Rynearson said.
If the exemption is approved, those entities would have to figure out how to trim Tri-State’s share from their 2020 budgets, she said.
Among them are Asotin County, which would need to get by with $23,410 less, the library district, which would see a $6,362 cut, and the aquatics center, which would have a $3,990 reduction.
Plus, state law might permit the tax exemption to be retroactive for three years on some of the properties.
Were that allowed for all of the properties, Asotin County would have to reimburse the $469,287 that Tri-State paid in 2017, 2018 and 2019 for the newly exempted properties, Rynearson said.
That amount could be less depending on what portions, if any, of the properties are allowed to be tax-exempt retroactively.
The possibility of Asotin County residents and businesses being responsible for taxes Tri-State already paid troubles Asotin County Commissioner Brian Shinn, even though he said he appreciates the important role Tri-State plays in the community.
“I wonder why is it necessary to go retroactive and penalize the same citizens that are patients?” Shinn said.
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