Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Golf Course Group May Avoid Taxes Link to Mu Means Tax-Free Status, They Say

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Golf Course Group May Avoid Taxes Link to Mu Means Tax-Free Status, They Say

Article excerpt

The Missouri Bluff Golf Joint Venture, which owns the new 235-acre golf course at the Missouri Research Park, is expected to be let off the hook for paying more than $14,000 in real-estate taxes this year.

County Assessor Eugene Zimmerman assessed the leasehold interest of the golf course's owners at $243,518. The owners appealed. They claim that they should be exempt from taxation because the golf course is in the Missouri Research Park, owned by the tax-exempt University of Missouri.

The owners of The Bluffs are Dr. C.H. "Doc" Walters, Dennis Walters and Bob Whittaker. Dennis Walters is the director of golf at the Bogey Hills Golf and Country Club in St. Charles and the Whitmoor Country Club at Weldon Spring. The group has a 99 1/2-year lease on the site from the university.

When the appeal to the tax assessment reached the St. Charles County Board of Equalization last week, the board voted 2-0 in favor of exempting the golf course.

The decision said, in effect, that Zimmerman did not have the authority to assess the university-owned property.

Zimmerman promptly said that he would appeal the decision to the Missouri Tax Commission.

John Nichols, chairman of the three-member board, argued that the board had no alternative but to abide by a law passed by the Legislature that appears to exempt the golf course from real-estate taxes.

Noting that the constitutionality of the law has been challenged by the county, Nichols added that he disagreed with the law.

"However, the law provides for that," he said "and I'm here to interpret the law as I see it - good, bad or indifferent."

Nichols said he thinks that the university's Board of Curators is authorized by the law to enter into a contract with the golf club's owners. But, he said, the curators had erred by not notifying the assessor of their action.

He said he would write to the curators to voice his concern.

Acknowledging that he thinks the law passed by the Legislature is flawed, Nichols said: "I think the assessor's attempt to remedy that defect in the law by taxing the leasehold interest is erroneous. …

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