SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The loss of revenue from new statewide property tax caps has some county officials taking a closer look at facilities owned by nonprofit groups that traditionally had been considered tax-exempt.

The St. Joseph County assessor's office, for instance, has sent tax bills to the University of Notre Dame for buildings such as its on-campus souvenir store and hotel. Those count for about $28,000 of Notre Dame's $230,000 total bill as it has paid taxes for years on off-campus property and its 18-hole golf course.

The new bills follow a determination that portions of those buildings are being used for profit-making purposes rather than charitable, religious or educational reasons.

"We're asking some tough questions to a lot of our exemption applicants," St. Joseph County Assessor David Wesolowski told the South Bend Tribune.

Numerous city and county governments across the state have been cutting jobs and services as they expect significant declines in tax revenues.

Under a law passed in 2008, property tax bills on homeowners this year were capped at 1.5 percent of their homes' assessed values, with 3.5 percent caps on business property. The caps are to be lowered to 1 percent and 3 percent, respectively, next year.

St. Joseph County also has decided to start billing a Memorial Health System medical office building and the Mishawaka Fraternal Order of Police hall, which is rented out for banquets and receptions.

County officials had discussions with Notre Dame administrators over several months about whether campus properties were being used for exempt purposes.

"They asked us for some details on some of the properties," said John Affleck-Graves, Notre Dame's executive vice president. "We were very comfortable with the process. It was very fair and open."

The Mishawaka FOP, however, plans to appeal its $11,114 tax bill. Business manger Jessica Guannuzzi said the organization won an appeal last year and that it faced borrowing money to pay the taxes.

Michael Hicks, director of Ball State University's Center for Business and Economic Research, said once a nonprofit organization agrees to pay property taxes, it might eventually face taxes on other moneymaking sites.

"What if the county in the future decides to tax (Notre Dame Stadium)?" Hicks said.

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