And, according to a proposed timeline detailed to Miss Fortune by the East Bay Township Assessing Department, in a perfect world Mark Noss should be getting the assessment ball rolling now.
But Noss has already covered his end, sticking the Grand Traverse Academy with the responsibility for paying the commercial real estate taxes on the building under construction, a building Noss owns and will rent back to the school.
(Don't these people have a lawyer review their contracts and get the best deal for all those tax payer millions? Oh, wait, it's the same group that paid out thousands in legal representation fees so that Brad Habermehl could have a lawyer in court...while he testified on behalf of Steven Ingersoll in December 2015 during Ingersoll's ongoing sentencing hearing.)
During my conversation yesterday with an East Bay Township representative, where I described the Grand Traverse Academy's relationship with Mark Noss and MDN Development without identifying any party by name, I was told the new building would be considered commercial property.
Commercial real estate refers to buildings or land intended to generate a profit, either from capital gain or rental income.
In order to get the property on the East Bay Township tax roll and schedule the appropriate key milestones with the Assessing department, in a perfect world, Noss should initiate the process now as construction commences.
But the Academy board's given him a pass (wittingly or unwittingly), with Noss adding this weak conditional clause under Section Nine-Utilities and Taxes: “Lessor shall seek an exemption from Michigan property tax based on the educational purpose of the premises, unless already recognized by the relevant taxing authorities.”
Educational purpose? Other than building this expansion on the backs of teachers and staff members, what exactly is the educational purpose of MDN Development? Has Noss initiated the exemption process? If so, what's the result?
I'm wondering: will this issue be on the agenda for this Friday's Grand Traverse Academy board annual meeting?
But that's nearly impossible for anyone other than board members to know, as the board is apparently reluctant to post its meeting agendas online in advance.
The Traverse City charter school signed its most recent lease resolution with MDN Development on February 2, 2016.
And while the school's superintendent, Susan Dameron, asserted in an April 10, 2016 Record-Eagle article that “Traverse City State Bank has agreed to loan GTA the money necessary to purchase the facility once the school has been out of deficit for three years”, why the rush to build the expansion? And what bank makes a loan decision two or three years in advance?
The school emerged from its deficit at the end of the 2014-15 fiscal year ending June 30, 2015.
However, according to its lease agreement with Mark Noss/MDN Development, there's only a one-time option to purchase the building on February 1, 2019 at an already agreed upon asking price of $3.9 million dollars.
If the Grand Traverse Academy is unable to purchase the building from Noss in February 2019, and continues to lease the building through the end of its twenty-year contract, total lease payments could exceed $8.5 million dollars.
Shouldn't we know exactly how much Mark Noss is paying Comstock Construction for the building? And the identities of his investors?