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Church charity status

Published October 30. 2010 09:00AM

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Allentown has filed appeals in the Schuylkill County Court from the recent action by the Schuylkill County Assessment Board which removed, on request of the school districts of Panther Valley and Mahanoy Area, seven religous properties owned by the diocese and located in Coaldale and Mahanoy City.

The diocese is requesting the county court to put back the properties on the exemption list from paying real estate tax and also claims the market value placed on the properties by the assessment board was exceedingly high and asked that it be lowered. The diocese claims the assessment board erroneously determined the fair market value on the properties and that it doesn't represent the actual value of the properties.

The diocese states in its petition two parishes in Coaldale have now been merged and consolidated into a large and stronger parish known as Saint Katharine Drexel, located at 120 East Abbot Street, Lansford.

Earlier this month, the assessment appeals board handed down an order removing church buildings, rectory, school building, all owned by the diocese, from the examption list and fixing a market value and assessment on the structures which are to be taxable in 2011.

The petition states Ss Cyril and Methodius Parish Rectory, Ruddle Street,Coaldale; Saint Mary of the Assumption Church Building, Second Street, Coaldale, and Saint John the Baptist, West Phillip Street Coaldale, were "suppressed and merged" into and are now part of Saint Katharine Drexel Church.

Former religious buildings in Mahanoy City are the Sacred Heart Church, Saint Canicus church and school and Saint Fidelis Church. Also, a structure belonging to Saint Mary of Assumption Church is used by nuns who teach at Marian Catholic High School.

The diocese claims it is a public charity and under state law is exempt from paying taxes on its buildings and if forced to pay it would take money away from charitable programs.

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