Save Mart Center owes millions in taxes to the City of Fresno

FRESNO, Calif.

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Right from the start Fresno County Assessor Robert Werner questioned the set up. "There is actually no arena that has exactly the same kind of leasehold structure as the Save Mart Center." He told a news conference on Monday.

Werner said he sent the association a tax bill, but they didn't pay. After years of negotiation he took the case to the Fresno County Assessment Appeals Board. They ruled last week that the center had $62 million of assessed valuation as a non-educational entertainment enterprise, and owed about $5 million in property taxes. Fresno County would get about 30 percent or $1.5 million of that. The state would get most of the rest with the city of Fresno and the Fresno Unified School District getting a cut.

Werner said the money would be welcome in this difficult budget time. "If and when these monies become available to municipal government it will come in very handy."

But, the California State University Association is not about to write a check for $5 million.

Executive Director Debbie Adishian-Astone says the assessment too high. "We've always acknowledged that we did owe tax on the non-university events. We just don't agree with the methodology of how they came up with the amount of tax due."

Werner says the State Board of Equalization helped Fresno County come up with the figures. Adishian-Astone said efforts to negotiate with the county have failed and the matter is expected to be settled in court.

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