Ask SAM added to shell 110518

Q: Property taxes keep rising. I understand costs are going up for operation of our government services. Am I wrong to assume that when I see a private practice health facility take down their sign I am witnesses a property being taken off the tax rolls because it is now a non-profit business? For example, Sears at Hanes Mall paid a huge amount of property tax. Now that is owned by Novant.

A.B.

Answer: Some of your assumptions are incorrect, according to John Burgiss, the Forsyth county tax assessor/collector. The tax-exempt status depends on the usage of the building.

“Property tax exemptions are an important component of our work in tax administration,” he said in a response to SAM. “North Carolina statutes allow for certain and specific property tax exemptions, exclusions and deferments. Each county is responsible for accepting and processing new applications, and we monitor and audit existing exemptions as well. Exemption applications usually have an application deadline of the January listing period or by June 1, depending on the statute requirements.”

Typically, he said, exemption requirements include two major components — ownership and use. In the example you cited, “to qualify for charitable hospital purposes, the ownership would have to be by a non-stock, non-profit charitable institution and used for charitable hospital purposes,” Burgiss said. “As of January 1, 2019, these circumstances did not exist for the property at the mall and therefore remains taxable. Similarly, doctor’s offices that operate in a typical fashion are also taxable, even if they are operated under the name of a hospital organization.”

More on Heat-Related Illness

In Thursday’s column, Dr. Michael Fitch, professor of emergency medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Health, addressed some of the signs that someone may be having a heat stroke. Today, we are giving information on two other heat-related illnesses, heat exhaustion and heat cramps.

Heat exhaustion can develop over time with continued exposure to high temperatures and inadequate replacement of fluids. Those most at-risk for developing heat exhaustion are the elderly, people with high blood pressure and those who work or exercise in a hot environment.

Signs of heat exhaustion may include heavy sweating, pale skin color, muscle cramps, headaches, and nausea or vomiting. If experiencing these symptoms, Fitch recommends drinking cool, nonalcoholic beverages, resting in the shade, a cool shower or bath, and spending time in an air-conditioned environment. If symptoms do not improve, seek medical attention.

Heat cramps are muscle pains and spasms that often occur in large muscles such as arms, legs, or abdomen. This can begin while performing strenuous activity during hot weather. People who sweat a lot during strenuous activity can be more prone to develop heat cramps, because heavy sweating can deplete the body’s electrolytes and moisture. According to Fitch, if medical attention is not necessary, it’s best to take a break, sit in a cool place, and drink water, clear juice or a sports drinks. Seek medical attention if heat cramps last longer than one hour.

“Heat related illnesses are largely preventable and when the right steps are taken, you and your family can safely enjoy your time outdoors,” Fitch said.

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