The Brookings City Council agreed Monday night to not pay its taxes to Curry County for Salmon Run golf course until a tax appeal magistrate rules on whether the publicly owned and operated course is exempt from taxation.
The property taxes were due in November, and the county is implementing a 16 percent annual interest payment — about $64 a month — for every month the city doesn’t pay. It’s retroactive to last November, as well.
The first appraisal submitted to the city from County Assessor Jim Kolen indicated the golf course was valued at $3.694 million. The city appealed, and had the value lowered by about 75 percent, to $836,757. The city then argued for a further reduction, to $239,632.
The county board of tax appeals does not have the authority to exempt property from taxation, so the decision now lies in the purview of the tax court magistrate.
Until the exemption issue is resolved, however, the city won’t pay any taxes or fines, the council agreed.
The course was taxable when it was leased to the Claveran Group and then Wild Rivers Golf, both of which operated the facility as a for-profit enterprise.
The city has only seen one rent payment in all the years the club has been open, and it is still operating at a loss.
“When does the bleeding stop?” said Councilor Bill Hamilton of the tax bill. “Where’s the money? If you’re going to tax us for something, we’ve got to have money. I don’t see any money in this. Trying to keep this afloat is really hard to do, and then now we’re hit with this?”
Attorney Martha Rice noted the city can pay the tax under protest so it isn’t officially “recognizing” that a tax is due.
The state tax court magistrate will likely hear the case in two or three months, she said.