Maurer v. Young Life

Citation779 P.2d 1317
Decision Date18 September 1989
Docket NumberNo. 87SC481,87SC481
PartiesMary Anne MAURER, Property Tax Administrator, State of Colorado, Petitioner, v. YOUNG LIFE, formerly the Young Life Campaign; and The Board of Assessment Appeals, State of Colorado, and its members, Henry F. Schiver, Chairman, Joy C. Carpenter, and James T. McDonald, Respondents.
CourtSupreme Court of Colorado

Duane Woodard, Atty. Gen., Charles B. Howe, Chief Deputy Atty. Gen., Richard H. Forman, Sol. Gen., Larry A. Williams, First Asst. Atty. Gen., Denver, for petitioner.

Holme Roberts & Owen, Richard R. Young and Susan D. Campbell, Colorado Springs, for respondents.

Kenneth A. Baker, Chaffee County Atty., Salida, for amicus curiae Bd. of County Com'rs of Chaffee County.

Justice LOHR delivered the Opinion of the Court.

We granted certiorari to review the judgment of the Colorado Court of Appeals in Maurer v. Young Life, 751 P.2d 653 (Colo.App.1987). The issues presented in this case are whether the Property Tax Administrator of the State of Colorado (Administrator) has standing to appeal from a ruling of the Board of Assessment Appeals (Board) granting an application for an exemption from property taxes and, if so, whether the Board erred in awarding such an exemption to Young Life for the tax years 1976 through 1984. We hold that the Administrator has standing, and is authorized to bring such an appeal for the tax year 1984 pursuant to section 39-2-117(6), 16B C.R.S. (1988 Supp.), but that section 24-4-106(4), 10A C.R.S. (1988), which governed rights of appeal for earlier years, did not permit the Administrator to seek judicial review. 1 We also hold that the Board's action in granting the exemption for the tax year 1984 is legally correct and factually supported by the record. Because the court of appeals held that the Administrator lacked standing to appeal from the Board's decision for any of the tax years at issue and affirmed the district court's judgment of dismissal of the Administrator's appeal for that reason, we affirm the court of appeals' judgment as to tax years 1976 through 1983 but reverse that judgment as to tax year 1984 and affirm the decision of the Board for that latter year. The effect of this decision is to leave unreviewed and in force the Board's decision granting Young Life's exemption application for the tax years 1976 through 1983 and to affirm on the merits the Board's decision granting such application for the tax year 1984.


Young Life is a nonprofit corporation organized under the laws of Texas. Its purposes include the promotion of an evangelistic Christian testimony among adolescents. According to its articles of incorporation, the organization seeks to introduce the Christian gospel to young people, particularly those without a church affiliation. It also seeks to encourage Christian young people in the development of their spiritual lives and to promote their participation in the activities of their respective churches. One Young Life activity in furtherance of such purposes is the development of camping programs during which Christian teachings are related to camping experiences in a low-key, informal manner.

At all times relevant to this opinion, Young Life owned properties in the Chalk Creek Drainage in Chaffee County, Colorado, consisting principally of Frontier Ranch, Silver Cliff, 2 Trail West and Rancho Caballo. Frontier Ranch and Silver Cliff were used for youth camps during the years in question. Trail West was a lodge used for Christian retreats. Rancho Caballo This case had its inception in 1976 when Young Life filed an application for an exemption from property taxes with the Administrator with respect to the Chaffee County properties. See § 39-2-117, 16B C.R.S. (1982). It sought such an exemption based on the use of the properties for religious worship and for charitable purposes. See § 39-3-101(1)(e), (g). The Administrator denied the application, and Young Life appealed to the Board pursuant to section 39-2-117(5). The Board held a hearing and then remanded the case to the Administrator for consideration of certain matters the Administrator had not previously taken into account. The Administrator again denied the application and Young Life once more appealed. The Board held a four-day evidentiary hearing concluding on September 13, 1984, after which it issued a written decision on October 26, 1984, reversing the decision of the Administrator and directing the Administrator to grant the requested exemption, based on the use of the properties for religious worship, retroactive to January 1, 1976.

was a ranch where horses were raised for use in the camping programs at the other three properties.

The Administrator sought review in Chaffee County District Court. Young Life and the Board moved to dismiss, asserting that the Administrator had no standing to appeal. The district court agreed and granted the motion to dismiss. On appeal, the court of appeals affirmed the dismissal. Maurer v. Young Life, 751 P.2d 653, 657 (Colo.App.1987). We granted certiorari to determine whether the Administrator could appeal from the decision of the Board and, if so, whether the Board erred in awarding an exemption to Young Life for its Chaffee County properties. 3


In affirming the decision of the district court, the court of appeals adopted as its own the district court's order that the Administrator lacked standing to seek judicial review of the Board's decision. Maurer, 751 P.2d at 653. The Administrator argues that standing is proper under section 39-2-117(6), 16B C.R.S. (1988 Supp.). That statute, however, was enacted in 1983 and applies only "to property tax years commencing on or after January 1, 1984." Ch. 520, secs. 1 and 6, § 39-2-117, 1983 Colo.Sess.Laws 2086, 2088. In this case, the Administrator sought review of the Board's determination of Young Life's tax exemption for the 1976 through 1984 property tax years. Because section 39-2-117(6) applies only to the 1984 property tax year, we will examine separately the issue of the Administrator's standing for the 1984 property tax year and for the 1976 to 1983 property tax years.

A. 1984 Property Tax Year

Young Life contends that for all the property tax years at issue, the Administrator lacks standing to seek judicial review of the Board's decision under Martin v. District Court, 191 Colo. 107, 550 P.2d 864 (1976). In Martin, we held that

[i]n the absence of an express statutory right, a subordinate state agency ... lacks standing or any other legal authority to obtain judicial review of an action of a superior state agency.... Nadeau [v. Merit System Council, 36 Colo.App. 362, 545 P.2d 1061 (1975) ]; see Board of County Commissioners v. State Board of Social Services, 186 Colo. 435, 528 P.2d 244 (1974); and Board of County Commissioners v. Love, 172 Colo. 121, 470 P.2d 861 (1970).

191 Colo. at 109, 550 P.2d at 866. The Martin standard thus precludes standing when two conditions are met: (1) the agency seeking judicial review is subordinate to the agency whose decision is sought to be reviewed, and (2) no statutory provision confers a right on the subordinate agency to seek judicial review of the superior agency's decision. See State v. Colorado State Personnel Board, 722 P.2d 1012, 1018-19 (Colo.1986) (state department of personnel In the present case, Young Life asserts that the Administrator is a state agency subordinate to the Board and that section 39-2-117(6) does not constitute statutory authority granting the Administrator a right to seek judicial review of adverse Board decisions. Even assuming that the Administrator is subordinate to the Board for purposes of the Martin analysis, we conclude that section 39-2-117(6) constitutes statutory authority for the Administrator to seek review of adverse Board decisions under the circumstances specified in the statute. 4 Therefore, Young Life's reliance on Martin is inadequate to demonstrate that the Administrator lacked standing.

lacks standing to seek judicial review of decision of state personnel board); Ad Hoc Executive Committee v. Runyan, 716 P.2d 465, 469-70 (Colo.1986) (public county hospital executive committee does not have standing to seek judicial review of decision of hospital board of trustees).


Section 39-2-117(6) outlines the availability of judicial review of Board decisions on appeals from the Administrator's determinations on property tax exemption applications. This section provides in part that

[i]f the decision of the board is against the respondent, the respondent, upon the recommendation of the board that it is a matter of statewide concern and within thirty days after such decision, may petition the district court of the county in which the property is located for judicial review pursuant to section 24-4-106, [10A] C.R.S. [1988].

§ 39-2-117(6), 16B C.R.S. (1988 Supp.).

The Administrator argues that because she was the respondent in Young Life's appeal before the Board, section 39-2-117(6) allows the Administrator to seek district court review of the Board's decision since the decision reversed the Administrator's prior exemption determination (i.e., was a decision "against the respondent") and the Board certified the matter as one of statewide concern. If the Administrator's interpretation is correct, section 39-2-117(6) would constitute a statutory provision conferring a right on the Administrator to seek judicial review of the Board's decision so that Martin would not preclude the Administrator's standing here. See Martin, 191 Colo. at 109, 550 P.2d at 866; Personnel Board, 722 P.2d at 1018-19; Runyan, 716 P.2d at 469-70.

The court of appeals, adopting the order of the district court, held that section 39-2-117(6) did not confer upon the Administrator a right to seek judicial review of the Board's decision. Maurer v. Young Life, 751 P.2d at 657. The court of appeals concluded that a grant of a right to seek judicial...

To continue reading

Request your trial
49 cases
  • State v Medicine Bird Black Bear White Eagle, 99-00300
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Tennessee
    • July 11, 2001
    ...1998). This rule exists to avoid drawing courts into matters more properly committed to another branch of government. Maurer v. Young Life, 779 P.2d 1317, 1323 (Colo. 1989). It is especially applicable to disputes between two executive branch agencies that ultimately must answer to a single......
  • Hall v. Walter, 97SC100
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Colorado
    • December 14, 1998
    ...(1973), now § 2-4-201(1)(a), 2 C.R.S. (1998)). Standing under the Wimberly test is a constitutional requirement. See Maurer v. Young Life, 779 P.2d 1317, 1324-25 (Colo.1989). A literal reading of the phrase "any person" would permit a private cause of action regardless of whether the plaint......
  • Taxpayers for Pub. Educ. v. Douglas Cnty. Sch. Dist.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • February 28, 2013 claim that the school is exempt from property taxation under Colorado Constitution article X, section 5 ? See Maurer v. Young Life, 779 P.2d 1317, 1333 n. 21 (Colo.1989) (“Avoiding a narrow construction of property tax exemptions based upon religious use ... serves the important purpose ......
  • Atlas Biologicals, Inc. v. Kutrubes
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • October 11, 2022
    ...of Greenwood Vill. v. Petitioners for Proposed City of Centennial , 3 P.3d 427, 436 n.7 (Colo. 2000) ; see also Maurer v. Young Life , 779 P.2d 1317, 1324 n.10 (Colo. 1989) ("Although the federal-court doctrine of standing has a different constitutional basis and is not co-extensive with [C......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT