Ohio approval clears group restoring Fairborn theater of $14K in back taxes



A Fairborn group awarded $500,000 in federal funds to restore a movie theater now has tax-exempt status, eliminating taxes owed since 2022, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation.

The Fairborn Phoenix Foundation has been listed on Greene County real estate records as delinquent on more than $14,700 in taxes, county records show.

But approval of the organization’s tax-exempt status is retroactive to tax year 2022, nullifying any taxes owed on six parcels involving the 74-year-old Fairborn Theater at 34 S. Broad St. near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio Department of Taxation Spokesman Gary Gudmundson said.

“The tax commissioner orders that the real property … be entered upon the list of property in the county which is exempt from taxation for tax year 2023 and that taxes, penalties and interest for tax year 2022 be remitted,” the Feb. 22 letter signed by Tax Commissioner Patricia Harris states.

“The tax commissioner further orders that all taxes, penalties and interest paid for these tax years be remitted in the manner provided by” Ohio law, it adds.

The Phoenix foundation is a nonprofit classified with 501 (c) (3) status. Foundation co-founder Jordan Terrell told the Dayton Daily News the organization in January received state “confirmation” on approval of its application for property tax exemption.

A Jan. 19 email indicates state Tax Examiner Simone Derby recommended granting the foundation’s application. But Gudmundson said the “final determination” letter by the tax commissioner last month was required for application approval.

The back taxes remained on the county’s delinquent list as of Friday afternoon, records show. But county Auditor David Graham said that would change after the state’s final determination letter is received.

“We will remit taxes for tax year 2022 and 2023 … and then place the parcels on the exempt list for tax year 2024 pay 2025,” Graham said in an email. “Once we remit the taxes, penalties and interest, they will no longer be delinquent.

“I might even take exception to calling them delinquent, due to its negative connotation,” he added. “They had unpaid taxes that were being disputed through (the) exemption process. Had they paid those taxes and received the exemption approval, we would be refunding the money they paid.”

Gudmundson said the foundation’s tax exemption application was received by the state on Jan. 18, 2023. That was more than a year after the organization acquired the land and about three months following Fairborn’s approval of $500,000 in American Rescue Plan Act money for the theater renovation, city records show.

The foundation’s allotment was one of the city’s largest single distributions of the estimated $6.8 million Fairborn received in federal funds.

Other city awards for funds for $500,000 or larger included:

• Former Fire Station #1 renovation, $2 million. In January, the city approved shifting the remaining $1.8 million to buy a new fire truck.

• Stormwater projects, $1 million.

• Economic development, $500,000.

• Nonprofits/small businesses, $500,000.

• Memorial Park construction, $500,000.

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