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Home Nurses Fight D.C.’s ‘Ballpark Fee’

WASHINGTON (CN) - Nursing Unlimited Services, which provides home care for the sick, elderly and shut-ins, claims the District of Columbia annual $7,200 "Ballpark Fee" is unconstitutional. The District demands the money to renovate Robert F. Kennedy Stadium, home of the privately owned Washington Redskins and Washington Senators.

The District claims that as a city "feepayer," Nursing Unlimited owes it $21,800 for 3 years payments for stadium renovations.

But Nursing Unlimited says the fee is an unconstitutional tax that the District is "discriminately applying" against it "while it does not equally and uniformly apply it to District's other residents."

The District's Ballpark Omnibus Financing and Revenue Act of 2004 created a scale that dictates how much "feepayers" owe for the stadium.

Feepayers with annual District gross receipts of $5 million to $8 million are charged $5,500 a year; the annual fee is $10,800 for businesses with gross receipts of $8 million to $12 million; $14,000 for gross receipts of $12 million to $16 million; and $16,500 for businesses with annual gross receipts greater than $16 million.

Nursing says Unlimited it refused to pay the fee from 2006 on, and in December 2010 it got a letter from the city's CFO requesting payment.

"The 'Ballpark Fee' is not a tax because a tax is an enforceable contribution, imposed on District's residents for the support of its government, to operate fire, police, social services, and other services, it provides to its residents free of charge," Nursing Unlimited says.

It adds that the "District's 'Ballpark Fee' lacks the required nexus between the alleged 'Ballpark Fee; and the service that it is supposed to render to NUL in return for that fee."

Nursing Unlimited says the District demanded $21,800 for fees from 2006-08, and that though it did not pay the fees for 2009 or 2010 either, the city hasn't billed it for those yet.

Nursing says the fee violates its due process and equal protection rights; it wants an injunction.

The company is represented in Federal Court by Wendell Robinson.

The complaint does not state how much the professional sports teams are taxed each year to pay for the upkeep of their home field.

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