Gorge News Report
When Olympia told them no, the Glenwood Rodeo Association sought the help of State Sen. Jim Honeyford, and the local legislator came to the rescue.
The Glenwood Rodeo Association lost its tax exemption in January 2002 when the state audited the Klickitat County Assessor's Office. At that time, it was discovered that the tax exemption status applied for in the mid-1980s was never certified. So, the association began the year long, one and one-half inch thick application.
In early December of 2002, Mark Bacca of the Washington Department of Revenue in Olympia informed the rodeo association that it did not qualify for tax exemption.
"He said we were too developed," said Roxie Clemmer, secretary and treasurer of the Glenwood association.
This ruling made the Glenwood Rodeo Association liable for four years of back taxes at abut $1,500 per year.
Association President Keith Kreps said $1,500 is too steep for an organization that uses the property two days a year.
"It's not that we're trying to dodge paying taxes in the county," Kreps said.
He explained that the rodeo is a non-profit community celebration. Occasionally, the association makes some money from its Father's Day weekend rodeo, but the money all goes back into the rodeo grounds, according to Kreps.
According to Clemmer, the association met with the Klickitat County Commissioners on Dec. 16, 2002, to ask for help. The commissioners suggested contacting legislators to rewrite the laws so the association would fit the tax exemption criteria. Kreps explained that the commissioners were very compassionate, but didn't have the authority to help them out directly.
Kreps added that he was sure County Commissioner Joan Frey talked with Sen. Honeyford on the association's behalf.
Honeyford's office was contacted after the commissioners meeting and Patrick Connor, one of the senator's aides, took the problem to the senator.
"[Connor] said, `send everything up here, I think Sen. Honeyford would be interested in this," Clemmer said.
Connor was right.
"I felt like the Department [of Revenue] was wrong. It just didn't seem right, when it's just used during the rodeo season," Honeyford said.
Honeyford made a phone call, and on Feb. 22, a letter was received from the Department of Revenue stating they had made an error and that the rodeo association need only resubmit its paperwork and filing fee and the situation would be taken care of.
"Sen. Honeyford really helped us out big time and we really appreciate it," Kreps said.
Clemmer added that although the organization had to put out $2,200 in back taxes this year, the 69th annual Ketchum Kalf will continue as scheduled on June 14-15.
"The rodeo will go on and it will be as good as always. We'll just have to tighten our belts," Clemmer said.