What is in this article?:
- Health Club Property Tax Break Bill Rejected by Kansas House of Representatives
- Opposing Views of the Bill
The bill had the support of Genesis Health Clubs owner Rodney Steven and other for-profit club operators from the state of Kansas and the industry.
Genesis Health Clubs owner Rodney Steven had a short, direct and to-the-point message to fellow supporters of a property tax break bill that was defeated in the Kansas House of Representatives last week.
In an email sent on Monday afternoon, Steven wrote to colleagues: "Toughest LOSS of any kind in my career—still trying to deal with it. Sorry we failed."
The bill was defeated 108-16 on Friday. Supporters of the bill in the Kansas House had tried to restore it after a House-Senate conference committee took the property tax break out of the bill two days earlier, The Wichita Eagle reported.
"We had a couple of very strong people in the House that were against this, and they were very successful," Greg Ferris, a consultant to Steven and a registered lobbyist for the Kansas Health and Fitness Association, tells Club Industry. "We never really got a clear, clean shot at a vote because the chair and vice chair of the tax committee just wouldn't let it move any further than it did."
Steven told Club Industry last month after the bill had passed the Senate that this was the closest he and fellow supporters had ever been to realizing their dream of getting a property tax break for for-profit health clubs approved in the Kansas Legislature. On Tuesday, Steven told Club Industry that it was "too soon to decide" what he and his group plan to do next year or in years to come.
Ferris also was unsure which direction his group will take.
"We're going to evaluate some things," Ferris says. "We may take some different approaches. We may just sit it out a year and come back after that. I don't know what we're going to do, to be honest with you."
The bill received support from more than just Steven and his Wichita, KS-based Genesis Health Clubs. Life Time Fitness, Chanhassen, MN, which has two clubs in Kansas in Overland Park and Lenexa, provided written testimony to the tax committee, Ferris says. A Gold's Gym franchisee in Merriam, KS, also provided support for the bill, among other club operators in the state.
"A lot of people thought Rodney was the only person involved in this," Ferris says. "There are several clubs that have a lot more at stake in this than Rodney does because Rodney doesn't even own all of his buildings. And if he didn't own them, he wouldn't have gotten the tax break. There were six different testimonies that were given at the committee hearing."
The property tax break would have helped for-profit health club operators combat their nonprofit competition, mainly YMCAs that are not required to pay property taxes. YMCAs are the not the only competition—newly built city-run rec centers around the state also pose a challenge to neighboring for-profit clubs, Ferris says.