A pair of elected officials from Saline County joined forces Tuesday to lend a hand to the Salina-based nonprofit humanitarian organization caught up in an unusual decision to block a property tax exemption.

Saline County Appraiser Sean Robertson said the Occupational Center of Central Kansas, which provides employment and independent living support for people with disabilities, learned in October the Kansas Board of Tax Appeals denied OCCK an exemption from property taxes because it was a limited liability company and not a corporation. The board’s decision conflicts with past rulings, he said.

“Though this strict interpretation of the statute is correct,” Robertson said, “I do not believe the intent ... is to exclude a property owned by an LLC from exemption when it meets all the other criteria to be exempt.”

If the Board of Tax Appeals ruling was applied statewide, he said, organizations across Kansas would lose exemptions.

Sen. Randall Hardy, R-Salina, said Senate Bill 279 would reform state law so OCCK and other charitable organizations created as LLCs would be eligible to for a property tax exemption along with not-for-profit corporations. The bill before the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee would override the Board of Tax Appeals ruling.

Sweeping language in the Senate bill may have significant financial implications for municipal units of government because it is written to include humanitarian organizations offering health, recreation, child care, counseling and other services, said Sen. Julia Lynn, an Olathe Republican.

“We need to know what we’re doing before we pile on,” Lynn said.

Jay Hall, who represents the Kansas Association of Counties, said the organization appreciated the value of tax exemptions to support work by organizations supporting communities of Kansas.

“While KAC does not specifically oppose the exemption, KAC is cautious of adding additional exemptions without examining existing exemptions,” Hall said.

The Senate committee didn’t take action on the bill.