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Property Tax Ruling in Our Favor

posted Feb 25, 2013, 7:04 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Feb 25, 2013, 7:04 AM by AUGUSTA SAILINGCLUB ]


The Board of Equalization Ruled in Our Favor 

On February 21, 2013 the Columbia County Board of Equalization (BOE) ruled in our favor and valued our 15.25 acres and improvements at $1,001,211 which will result in a savings of $5,478 in property tax per year from the proposed valuation of $1,509,789. 

Dan West and Mike Walsh represented ASC in the successful appeal to the BOE after a great deal of research and consultation. Many ASC members contributed to developing the winning arguments including Commodore Rob Sherman, John Lovin, Brian Slater, Jim Claffey, Tom Renard, Dick Mayne and the Financial Review Committee (Bob Harkrider, Gil Samuelson, Jenny Samuelson) to name a few. Dan and Mike consulted with the Corps Real Estate Division, appraisers, lending institutions, several of the other clubs at the lake including Columbia County Game & Fish Club & IBEW and legal counsel. Dan and Mike had many meetings with the Columbia County Assessor to understand the County’s position and to explain the Club’s position. These meetings ultimately resulted in the Assessor’s office supporting a lower valuation.

The prevailing arguments used the old Twin Citys Club (TC) and the Augusta Friendship Benevolent Club (AFB) as comparable sales and values respectively. The TC property was subdivided into18 lots and sold for $51,000/AC on average between 1992 and 2005. TC is really the only comparable sales because it was a non-profit Club located on the lake with the same zoning and reversionary clause in their deed as ASC. The AFB was used as a comparable value as it is also a non-profit Club on the lake with the same zoning and reversionary clause in their deed and the BOE had recently ruled there value to be $37,000/AC. For several reasons including topography, property shape, lake access, road access, utility access, etc. we argued ASC should be valued less than TC but more than AFB at $42,000/AC excluding improvements and this prevailed. 

A note about the reversionary clause should be made known. ASC’s deed carries a reversionary provision required by Federal Public Law 999 of 1956 establishing that the conveyance of the land is conditioned that the property be used for cottage site development and/or group recreational facilities only, and in the event of use for any other purposes, title to the land and improvements will revert to the United States. In the past ASC and Columbia County interpreted the reversionary clause as very restrictive to sale and as a result taxable property values were held relatively very low. The Real Estate Division of the Corps has issued a position that “Due to changes in the neighborhoods surrounding our civil lake projects, there now appears to be no public interest or Government purpose that would be served by exercising the reversionary provision”. Based on this new position and the precedence of other sales of property with the reversionary clause around the lake the restriction is considered to have much less or no effect on the property valuation. 

The revised valuation of $1,001,211 does represent an increase in our annual tax burden from $7,234 to $10,804. For this reason we are investigating the possibility of putting the Club grounds into Agricultural/Wildlife Habitat/Forestry program which could result in a significant tax savings each year. There are restrictions on how the property would be used once placed in such a program so we will be evaluating this option carefully. 

You can read more about the process we went through to get here in the Tax Articles posted on the website under Club News dated October 30, 2012 and December 25, 2012.