Large Abomination on the Prairie
A new Re/Max Legacy Realty ad for empty residential lots in the city of Oxbow, ranging in price from $52,000 to $84,000, touts, in large red letters, “NO SPECIALS!” As the Church Lady from SNL would say, “Well, isn’t that special!” You see, there is a reason that these lots sell with no specials and it’s because you, the taxpayer, paid all of them in full.
So, how much did you pay off in specials? Well, something like 98 new lots were created in the new part of Oxbow and the bid for the streets, water and sewer for this area, the costs that generally are covered by specials, was somewhere in the neighborhood of $11 million. Carve out some of that cost for the extravagant new clubhouse and the cost of specials is still over $100,000 per new residential lot.
And it doesn’t stop there. See, for the roughly 42 Oxbow homes that you have purchased outright or replaced for those Oxbow folks affected by the project, if they had outstanding specials on said homes, you paid those off as well. And these home purchases are costing you, on average, over $980,000 each (a number that is still rising).
But the most outrageous abomination on the prairie is the Oxbow Country Club, entirely rebuilt at your expense. We’re talking a total and complete rebuild here, including all-new landscaping, irrigation systems, drainage systems, lakes, bridges and concrete cart paths throughout. The only contribution from the club in all of this is the land for nine of the holes involved in the reconstruction. Meanwhile, you, the taxpayer, purchased roughly two quarters of farm land at $25,000 per acre to accommodate the other nine holes and the new housing lots.
So, what does it cost to take flat farm land and sculpt it into an undulating landscape, complete with hills, lakes and bridges? Estimates for the golf course redo have ranged from $28 million to $32 million. Given the skills of local guess-timators, figure on the real number being higher, perhaps $40 million or more. See, you aren’t just restoring what was: this is a significant upgrade we are talking about here, a total reinvention. In fact, a good portion of what was is being completely redesigned and rebuilt just because. The only reason seems to be that the old part of the course didn’t match the new so you get to spend millions to do a matchy-matchy thing. Well, isn’t that special!
Having paid $10,499,000 to the club for its old clubhouse and pool, you are forgiven if you mistake the new clubhouse for a new public school. And here’s the best part: all of it is closed to you. That’s right, you get to pay for the new course and clubhouse but are unwelcome there because it’s PRIVATE! You can only have a beer at the clubhouse or golf the course as the guest of a member. But you always get to pick up the tab.
Former county commissioner Pawluk, when voting to approve the Oxbow project, said he was doing so to save the taxpayers money. It was projected at the time that the overall project would cost $65 million vs. perhaps $70 million to buy everything up and remove it from the proposed new floodway. So, how has that worked out so far? Well, with the latest contract release of around $10 million, the project cost is now well in excess of $100 million and headed toward $130 million or maybe even more.
As government projects go, this sucker is right on budget!!
So, what will this large abomination pay in taxes? What taxable value will this private golf and country club be assigned? Inquiring minds want to know. After all, if the taxpayer puts $40 million into building it, said taxpayer should see at least some reasonable amount back on his investment, at least in taxes. But he won’t. See, if you talk with your county tax administrator, he’ll tell you that golf courses cost a bundle to build but have poor residual value. For example, the Oxbow CC that existed before the remake was tax-valued at less than $1.5 million for the whole thing; pool, clubhouse and all 18-holes.
So, just assume that the ‘new and improved’ Oxbow CC will be taxed on maybe 10% to 15% of its construction cost. Yep, you give them, say $40 million, and they get taxed on maybe $4 million to $6 million (and will probably complain that they are over-taxed). Kinda like the guy who gets $1.1 million from the taxpayer to build his new replacement home, then whines when he finds out he’s going to get taxed on $750,000 of that, less his two-year, $150,000 tax abatement, of course.
Other People’s Money, aka OPM (pronounced ‘opium’). It’s the lifeblood of government and it’s just as addictive to the political class as opium is to a junky. And, as taxpayers, who are the sole supplier feeding the addiction, we become the enablers. The truly sad part: we can hardly complain because not only do we tolerate it, we approve it through our affirmative votes for corrupt leadership. In the end, it appears that we have no one to blame but ourselves.
Contact: The Angry Taxpayer