July 27, 2011
AIDS Services for the Monadnock Region, represented by Boston-based Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), is suing the town of Gilsum to block its efforts to seize the property of a group home for people living with HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C for nonpayment of taxes.
The Cleve Jones Wellness House currently accommodates five residents and has been at the heart of several GLAD battles with Gilsum. The city has consented to forego the scheduled deed transfer until the lawsuit is decided.
AIDS Services acknowledges not filing an application for exemption in 2007 due to an administrator's misunderstanding that the exemption was automatic. The exemption was filed one month late in 2008 and only three days late in 2009. City officials exercised their prerogative to decline accepting the late applications. The organization was taxed $11,559, which it had to borrow and has been incapable of repaying.
GLAD attorney Ben Klein maintains the home is tax exempt, should never have been charged the taxes, and is the victim of an "egregious violation of constitutional equal treatment." The lawsuit asserts both the American Legion and the Gilsum Congregational Church failed to file for exemptions numerous years between 2004 and 2009. Yet they were exempted, along with all other nonprofits that regularly filed late if at all. The lawsuit seeks a refund on the taxes and interest AIDS Services paid to Gilsum in 2010.
GLAD previously sued Gilsum on behalf of the home in 2008 when the city "imposed conditions on who could live" there, said Klein. That case was settled and most of those restrictions were dismissed, continued Klein.