The Fayetteville School District is intervening in a lawsuit between the University of Arkansas and Washington County over property taxes, and the school district is not on the university’s side.
The Fayetteville School Board voted unanimously Thursday night to intervene in the suit, in which the university seeks a refund of all personal property taxes paid in 2010 and 2011.
The school district stands to lose about $165,000 per year in property tax money if the university prevails in its lawsuit, said Alan Wilbourn, district spokesman.
The intervention in the suit is meant to “protect the fiscal interest of the school district,” Lisa Morstad, the district’s chief financial officer, said in a letter to the school board.
The school district will hire Jack Butt of the Davis, Clark, Butt, Carithers & Taylor Law Firm to serve as legal counsel for the intervention litigation, according to the Fayetteville School District.
University administrators believe several parcels of land owned by the university should be exempt from property taxes, according to the lawsuit.
“In April and May 2011, the…Washington County Assessor distributed Commercial Personal Property Assessment forms to various locations on the university campus,” the suit states. “These forms covered university-owned personal property that had previously never been assessed by the Washington County Assessor.”
Following a dispute over which UA parcels of land were exempt from taxes, the university submitted tax payments in protest and notified of the county of their intent to seek an appeal.
Disputed parcels of land include several student rental properties, green spaces and student eateries.