INDIANAPOLIS — A problem-ridden northeast side Indianapolis apartment complex facing hundreds of health code violations has lost its tax-exempt following months of reporting on the issues at the complex by RTV6.
RTV6 uncovered not only the Lakeside Pointe at Nora's charitable status but also hundreds of health code violations.
A spokesman from the Marion County Property Appraiser's Office said managment and ownership of the property was sent notice that it needed to send documents by July 15 to establish why the property should maintain its charitable designation. It's a status the property has had since 2007.
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The designation means the property has not had to pay taxes on its assessed value of more than $16 million — amounting to around $360,000 each year the property has not been obligated to pay.
That changed Friday. Officials said no documents were sent to the assessor's office by management. When the Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals met on Friday they voted unanimously to suspend the tax-exempt status of the apartment complex effective for 2019 taxes.
Indiana property taxes are paid a year in arrears so management will receive its first bill in January that will be due at tax time next April.
The decision is being touted as a win by community members.
“We praise God for the media coverage and community and jurisdictional response, leading to today’s progress on behalf of our vulnerable immigrant and refugee neighbors at Lakeside Pointe apartments," Neil Cox, a community member who helped bring the issue to the attention of city leaders, said. "The Board of Appeals action will help toward bringing greater accountability for proper corporate behavior among low-income residents they purport to serve. “
Keri Kornelsen teaches English as a second language to adults, and she is among a group of volunteers that has advocated for residents at Lakeside Pointe in recent years.
"It was just amazing to me the conditions that these folks were living in and they couldn’t get anything done anything to happen to help them," she said. "Mold. Ceilings literally falling in. Black mold that’s been painted over. Wet carpets that have just been left and smells that you can’t even be in the apartment without getting a headache. Definitely a health hazard to the children and adults that are living there."
This is not a done deal. Management can reapply for the tax-exempt status, and there is no deadline for that. It will ultimately be up to the board to weigh in on what they want to see from the property owners to have the exemption reinstated.
But, for now, Kornelsen is thrilled to see action being taken against an apartment complex that she believes has taken advantage of its tenants.
"It is so exciting to see the community coming together and work for justice and say, 'We can’t ignore this anymore, and this is not OK,'" Kornelsen said. "I hope it will put enough pressure on them to, like I said, be accountable for how they’re treating their residents and how they’re using their money."