Appeal from the Circuit Court of Jackson County. No. 90-MR-41. Honorable J. Phil Gilbert, Presiding Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Maag
JUSTICE MAAG delivered the opinion of the court:
In this case, we are presented with the question of whether several vacant parcels of land owned by Comprehensive Training and Development Corporation (CTDC) are entitled to a property tax exemption due to CTDC's claimed status as a charitable organization. The Illinois Department of Revenue denied the exemption, and the circuit court upheld that decision. CTDC now appeals.
The inception of this case can be traced to a plan conceived in 1989 by CTDC to study the development potential for 18 vacant lots in Carbondale. The lots had been owed by CTDC since the 1970's.
Funding was requested from the city of Carbondale to perform the study. Although the city council authorized $2,000 in funding and prepared a contract in furtherance of that authorization, the city declined to execute the contract when it was discovered that property taxes were owed on the property.
CTDC then applied for a tax exemption for the land. The exemption was requested for the year 1989. The Jackson County Board of Review recommended to the Illinois Department of Revenue that the exemptions be denied. The exemptions were denied, and CTDC then requested an administrative hearing.
On May 2, 1990, the hearing was held. The only witness that appeared in person was Jane Hughes, the director of the Human Development Division of the City of Carbondale.
Hughes testified that an urban renewal program was started in Carbondale in 1974. As a part of that program, the city contracted with CTDC to rehabilitate residential housing. Carbondale has had other dealings with CTDC over the years, including CTDC's participationin a Federal model-cities program in 1975, and city funding for a program conducted by CTDC to train unemployed residents. This training program took place in 1977 after the model-cities program expired.
Regarding the 18 lots in question, Hughes admitted that no actual development had occurred on the property during 1989.
CTDC's articles of incorporation and corporate bylaws were admitted into evidence, and those documents identified it as a not-for-profit group formed for charitable purposes.
The affidavit of a Carlson Smith was also admitted. Smith's affidavit stated that he had been the president of CTDC since 1987. In 1987, several members of the organization's board had died or lost interest. He had attempted to revitalize the organization, and it was his plan to develop the vacant land that led to the whole controversy.
Finally, the affidavit of Robert Stalls was admitted into evidence. He was Director of the model-cities program in Carbondale from 1968 to 1975. Thereafter, he served as director of the Division of Human Resources for Carbondale until he retired in 1987. Stalls' affidavit, in substance, stated the following: (1) Some of the goals of the model-cities program were to rehabilitate deteriorated housing, create new low- and moderate-income housing, and train disadvantaged residents; (2) He initiated the formation of CTDC as a not-for-profit corporation to work with the city to achieve these goals; (3) The property in question was purchased by the city to transfer to CTDC for development; and (4) It was understood at the time that CTDC was acting as an agent of the city and that the property would remain tax exempt until it was developed.
After considering this evidence, the administrative law Judge rendered his decision. He ruled that CTDC had been a dormant organization during 1989, it had no financial resources, and it did not qualify as a charitable organization. He ruled that the parcels in question were not used for charitable purposes during 1989 and that they had remained vacant and unimproved since their acquisition in the 1970's. He recommended ...