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Dispute over tax-exempt status of Solarium leads to notice of tax sale

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Dispute over tax-exempt status of Solarium leads to notice of tax sale

A sign placed outside the Solarium in Decatur regarding a tax sale. The city confirmed that this tax sale will not take place while the owners of the property resolve a dispute with the county about the property's tax-exempt status. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

Decatur, GA — A yellow notice of a tax sale was recently posted in front of the Solarium in Decatur, due to a dispute about the property’s tax-exempt status.

The city has confirmed that the tax sale, scheduled for Sept. 6, will not take place while the dispute is resolved in court.

The Solarium hosts community events and is owned by the nonprofit Community Center of South Decatur.

Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

Leah Manley, president of CCSD, provided additional information about the dispute.

“The Community Center of South Decatur, Inc. (CCSD) is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation dedicated to preserving the historic Solarium property and using it as a resource for the Decatur community,” Manley said. “Despite this, DeKalb County removed the Solarium property’s exemption from property tax assessment in tax year 2020. In response, the CCSD formally applied to DeKalb County for the public charity exemption provided for under Georgia law. This application was denied by DeKalb County, and CCSD appealed this decision. This appeal of the Solarium property’s tax status is currently ongoing and will be heard in the Superior Court of DeKalb County.”

CCSD requested that the city of Decatur remove the property from its September tax sale, and the city agreed.

“The CCSD wants to stress that the Solarium will not be sold at the tax sale scheduled for Sept. 6, 2022,” Manley said. “The CCSD appreciates the support of the city of Decatur in removing the Solarium from the tax sale while the appeal with DeKalb County proceeds. It greatly appreciates the public support it has received from the community at large. The CCSD pledges that it will continue its efforts to preserve the Solarium so that it will remain a treasured community resource for generations to come.”

Decatur City Manager Andrea Arnold said the property was also slated for a tax sale in 2021.

“In June 2021, the president of the CCSD requested that this property be removed from the 2021 tax sale while the CCSD was appealing the tax status of the property,” Arnold said. “The city accommodated that request.  In August 2022, the CCSD president again reached out to have the property removed from the tax sale pending the appeal of the decision of the DeKalb County Board of Tax Assessors in the Superior Court of DeKalb County. The city has pulled the property from the tax sale pending the outcome of the appeal.”

Arnold said the county determines a property’s tax status, and the city follows the county’s determination about whether a property is tax-exempt.

“The county transmits to the City the property tax digest, which includes property values as well as taxable status, and the city uses this data to generate the city tax billing,” Arnold said.

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