Kansas State Teachers Ass'n, Inc. v. Cushman

Decision Date09 April 1960
Docket NumberNo. 41752,41752
Citation186 Kan. 489,351 P.2d 19
PartiesKANSAS STATE TEACHERS ASSOCIATION, INC., Appellant, v. Myron CUSHMAN, County Clerk of Shawnee County, and John Towle, County Assessor of Shawnee County, Appellees.
CourtKansas Supreme Court

Syllabus by the Court

The record in an action in mandamus to compel the county clerk and county assessor of Shawnee County to comply with orders of the State Commission of Revenue and Taxation finding the appellant's real and personal property to be used exclusively for educational purposes and exempt from taxation pursuant to Article 11, Section 1 of the constitution of Kansas, and to remove such property from the tax rolls, is examined and it is held: the district court did not err in finding that the evidence failed to show the appellant's property to be so used as to be exempt from taxation under Article 11, Section 1 of the constitution of Kansas, or under the provisions of G.S.1949, 79-201.

Walter G. Stumbo, Topeka, argued the cause, and Robert R. Irwin and Mary Schowengerdt, Topeka, were with him on the briefs for appellant.

Lester M. Goodell, Topeka, argued the cause, and Adrian Allen, County Attorney, Margaret McGurnaghan, Marlin S. Casey, Raymond Briman, Thomas R. Sewell and Gerald L. Goodell, Topeka, were with him on the briefs for appellees.

FATZER, Justice.

This was an action in mandamus to compel the defendants to remove the plaintiff's property located at 715 West Tenth Street, Topeka, Kansas, from the tax rolls of Shawnee County. Judgment was entered for the defendants and the plaintiff has appealed.

During 1956 the appellant filed an application with the State Commission of Revenue and Taxation requesting that its real and personal property situated at the above address, more particularly described as lots 49, 51, 53, 55, 57, 59, 61 and 63 on Tenth Street, West, in the City of Topeka be declared exempt from taxation for 1956 and subsequent years. Following a hearing, and on June 18, 1956, the commission issued its order declaring the appellant's property to be exempt from taxation and ordered it removed from the tax rolls of Shawnee County.

Pursuant to the commission's order, the appellee county clerk removed appellant's property from the tax rolls for the year 1956, but in 1957 the appellees placed the property back upon the tax rolls for assessment and taxation. Subsequently, the appellant commenced this action and in its motion for an alternative writ alleged inter alia that the commission, by its order of June 18, 1956, found appellant's real and personal property 'to be used exclusively for educational purposes within the meaning of the exemption granted by the Constitution of the State of Kansas, Article 11, Section 1, which finding was affirmed by the Commission in its order on rehearing dated September 20, 1956.' And further, by the same order, it found such property 'should be and the same is hereby ordered removed from the tax rolls of Shawnee County, Kansas.' No other claim or basis for tax exemption was alleged. The motion further alleged 'that the uses, functions and purposes of the property in question remain the same as they were when the matter was determined by the Commission.'

Summarized, the appellees' answer alleged that the orders of the commission were illegal and void; that there was no competent evidence before the commission to show that appellant's property was used exclusively for educational purposes as provided in Article 11, Section 1 of the constitution of the state of Kansas; that appellant's property was not exempt from taxation under the provision of the constitution or laws of the state of Kansas, and that the appellees, by virtue of their offices, took official action by placing appellant's property upon the tax rolls of Shawnee County pursuant to G.S.1949, 79-101 which requires that all property in the state of Kansas, both real and personal, not expressly exempt, be subject to taxation.

On May 1, 1959, the cause was tried to the district court upon an agreed stipulation of facts, various exhibits attached thereto, and the transcript of both hearings before the commission. The stipulation of facts provided that, among other things, the transcripts were subject to objection by either party as to the competency or relevancy of the testimony. The appellees submitted written objections to portions of the testimony upon the ground of incompetency. While the district court made no rulings upon those objections, it is presumed the court considered only the competent evidence introduced before the commission. Neither party requested findings of fact, nor did the court on its own initiative make findings of fact, other than that recited in its judgment that the evidence failed to show appellant's property to be so used as to be exempt from taxation under Article 11, Section 1, of the constitution of Kansas, or under the provisions of G.S.1949, 79-201.

A summary of the evidence follows: The appellant association was founded in 1863 and incorporated as a non-profit corporation in 1876. Its activities have been carried on, for the most part, in Topeka, and its present headquarters is a modern two-story brick and rock building containing approximately 29,000 square feet of space. The building was constructed in 1955 at a cost of approximately $500,000. No public funds were used in its construction; the money to build it was raised from the sale of appellant's old headquarters building and a building assessment against each member.

The facilities within the building consist of a library for teachers and the public; offices for appellant's professional and clerical staff of approximately 20 full and part time employees; a mimeographing, duplicating and mailing room; extensive book provisions to maintain the 'Reading Circle'; a large storage room in the basement with hydraulic elevator connecting the various floors; board of directors conference room; committee room; kitchenette, and rest rooms. The entire second floor consists of conference rooms and an auditorium which seats up to 500 persons. The conference rooms and auditorium are made available to the teachers and many local and state educational, professional, religious and governmental organizations without charge, except a small janitorial charge is made to non-educational organizations. No part of appellant's property is rented to any person or organization, and no part of its activities result from funds supplied through any public treasury.

In its early days the association was a convention type organization. As early as 1914 there was need for a full time secretary, and as a result of the increase in school population in the state and a corresponding demand for higher standards in the teaching profession, the appellant has grown until its present membership is approximately 23,000 persons composed of 21,500 teachers and 1500 students in training, school board members, librarians and a few other interested persons.

The objects of appellant as set forth in its charter and in its constitution are:

'The support of the general educational interests of the State of Kansas, the collection and dissemination of educational intelligence, and the mutual improvement of its members in all that pertains to the teacher's vocation.'

The organizational structure of appellant is composed of a board of directors (of which the State Superintendent of Public Instruction is an ex officio member), an executive secretary, and professional and clerical staff members. Directors of the board are elected in accordance with appellant's by-laws and are required to be members of the association, however, they may reside in different communities throughout the state. There are numerous committees, the membership of which, for the most part, is made up of the association's members who likewise live in various parts of the state. Some committee meetings are held in the appellant's headquarters building and others are held elsewhere. Members of the committees are appointed by the board of directors or elected at the annual meetings of the association. In the main, the committees are of three types: the Constitutional Committee, which has five standing committees; the Regular Committee, which has sixteen standing committees, and the Special Committee, of temporary tenure, having special assignments. The committees pertinent to this controversy are hereafter noted.

The appellant has three sources of revenue: annual membership dues; advertising in the 'Kansas Teacher,' a magazine edited and published by appellant, and gross income from the sale of books through the 'Reading Circle,' hereafter referred to. Annual dues are graduated, depending upon the salary of the teacher; the average payment is $7 a year, plus $2 to the building fund. Total revenue received by the appellant for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1955, was $344,799 of which $149,916 was from membership dues, and $57,905 was contributions to the building fund.

The Kansas Teacher is a monthly magazine having a circulation of over 25,000 within the state of Kansas. It is appellant's official publication and contains its annual reports and also the official reports of the State School Retirement Board. Its editorial staff is made up primarily of personnel at the headquarters building, and approximately 80 percent of the magazine contains material which could possibly be used in the classrooms of schools. There is reserved in the magazine a section for the State Superintendent of Public Instruction where he may address teachers of the state. In publishing the magazine, there is no cost whatsoever to the state. Approximately two-thirds of the total cost is paid by the appellant and one-third by advertising. Advertising is sold in the conventional manner; various state teachers' associations band together to secure national advertising through cooperative agents in Chicago, and in Kansas a member of the appellant's...

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