Springfield Rescue Mission in debt following $150,000 property tax bill

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Springfield Rescue Mission provides shelter and services for people in need.

David Terry has been getting help from them for the past 11 months. “Can you imagine, not having to put out money to get something to eat, having plenty of clothes to wear, a good place to sleep at night?” he said.

But in January, they became the ones needing help when they were handed a property tax bill for $151,000, and given one month to make the first payment.

The Springfield Rescue Mission had to pay a tax bill because they bought the facility in the middle of the fiscal year. The only problem is, they didn’t realize they owed any money until weeks before the deadline.

Ron Willoughby, the Executive Director of the Springfield Rescue Mission told 22News that amount of money came as a shock. “A nonprofit does not have a lot of money to throw around,” he said.

The deal for the new property closed on October 31st. The value had increased, but the Mission didn’t find out until months later.

“I’m not quite sure how this slipped through. It seems like if the assessment was done in August, we’re talking two months later, we would have had solid figures on the table at the time of the closing,” Willoughby said.

But they didn’t have those figures until January. They paid $44,000 on February 1st, then started scrambling for the $107,000 due May 1st.

They borrowed $100,000 from Berkshire Bank.

Marie Meserve-Lucier of Berkshire Bank told 22News they saw an opportunity to help. “Our mission was to just reach out to them, because they’re very important to our community,” she said.

22News asked the city’s assessor, Richie Allen, why the tax exempt organization was forced to pay taxes in the first place. Allen told 22News properties are deemed to earn their exemption as of July 1st, according to state law.  The owner of the facility as of July 1st 2015 was still Blue Tarp Redevelopment, LLC. Since the Rescue Mission purchased the property in October, they had to pick up the bill that was already determined the previous summer.

The Rescue Mission did file an abatement, which the Assessor’s Office is expected to take into consideration.

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