WOODLAND PARK, Colo. — The City Council voted in favor to allow student housing at Charis Bible College to be tax exempt.
The council voted five to two to amend the terms struck with city leaders in 2012.
Charis Bible College is run by the ministry group, Andrew Wommack Ministries.
Previously the ministry signed an agreement saying their housing could be taxed. Now they are claiming it should be made void because the person who authorized the signing on behalf of the college was not allowed to do so. They asked for the old contract to be made void.
Due to legal technicalities, the council members say their vote in favor of the tax exemption was the only option as they did not want the city to be sued by the ministry.
Andrew Wommack ministries did offer a possible gift of $250,000 for city utilities as a showing of good grace; however, Mayor Hilary LaBarre said she does not trust the minitristy will follow through.
“Your organization is clever because you do this kind of work all over the world,” LaBarre said. “So dealing with us wasn’t that difficult and you probably knew you could renege on this obligation to us and the council to agree to it, and the previous attorney that agreed to it didn’t realize that would happen.”
City Council members are mainly concerned that the tax exemption will strain funding for emergency services in Woodland Park.
“Our fire department has no funding to grow and fill the staff. Of the $2.6 million budget… 99 % of the budget comes from property taxes… those taxes are being paid by you and me as property owners in the area but not by Charis,” said Tracy Bennet, a concerned citizen.
Andrew Wommack Ministries argued that Woodland Park is not meeting the need for student housing.
“…We have people going down to the springs living in their cars and we really need the housing to be affordable,” said Brenda Giaimo, a member of the ministry.