HEBRON — Hebron Academy will not be reimbursed for 2009 property taxes paid on Robinson Arena and five other parcels, according to a decision by Justice Robert Clifford in Oxford County Superior Court.
However, Hebron Academy won a larger battle over its tax-exempt status. From 2010 on, the school is exempt from property taxes on most of its property, including the Robinson Arena.
In his decision Feb. 10, Clifford said Hebron Academy met the burden to prove it is a literary and scientific institution, and therefore eligible for tax-exempt status. But the 2009 taxes on the arena and other parcels must be paid because the school was too late in contesting them.
Hebron Academy had paid $19,000 in taxes for the arena and other parcels and was attempting to get reimbursed.
At a hearing on Nov. 22, 2011, Headmaster John J. King testified that Hebron Academy had dutifully paid property taxes on certain properties for years. Most of the campus is tax exempt, with the exception of the headmaster's house, 10 structures that house other faculty, and the school's business office building, half of which is rented to the U.S. Postal Service.
King said that in 2009, the school's property taxes doubled. The town had begun taxing the arena and five other school parcels. The town said that because the school rented the Robinson Arena to hockey teams for non-educational purposes, the school was profiting from the property.
The school contested the new taxes, but submitted its request for an abatement a few days too late in March 2010. King said there was a misunderstanding, and the school was told it had until the end of March rather than 185 days from when tax bills were mailed.
The town denied the school's request for an abatement. The academy took the case to the Oxford County Commission, which denied the abatement because of the missed deadline. Clifford concluded that “for the tax year 2009, Hebron Academy is not released of its obligation to pay real estate taxes on its property.”