The Lakeside Wellness Center in Omaha, Neb., isn't your typical upscale health club. Sure, it offers many of the facilities one would expect to find in such a club--a heated pool, massages, a wide variety of exercise equipment, trained staff and classes in subjects such as aquatic therapy, Tae Kwon Do and Pilates. However, Lakeside has one major advantage over many of its rivals: It is exempt from local property taxes.
Alegent Health, a large health care organization, owns the club and claims it serves a charitable purpose like its nearby hospital. And because Alegent is a non-profit institution, Lakeside is tax exempt.
"[Lakeside] is essentially a private health club," says Mike Goodwillie, legal counsel to the Nebraska Department of Property Assessment and Taxation, who argued Morrissey's position before TERC.
Alegent argues the facility provides needed physical therapy to individuals who are feeble or sick.