Morrison Looking at Private Club Property Tax Issue
State senator is researching legislative action to require private golf clubs to pay real estate tax on their improvements. Patch poll shows overwhelming support for lawmaking.
State Sen. Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) has decided to look at ways the Illinois General Assembly can require private golf clubs to pay property taxes on their improved real estate after learning of litigation winding its way through the court system which would allow an exemption.
The issue came to light Jan. 30 when Patch published a story describing legal action brought by the Onwentsia Club of Lake Forest contending since its golf course is open land exempt from property taxes, its buildings like its club house should not be assessed either.
Since taxing authorities like school and park districts which rely on the revenue would have to either reduce their revenue or increase the share paid by the other members of the community. “Somebody will have to pick up this money,” Ela Township Assessor John Barrington said. “It doesn’t go away; it just gets redistributed.”
Morrison, whose district contains numerous private clubs including 10 in Highland Park, Deerfield, Lake Forest and Lake Bluff, was unaware of the case until recently. She then decided to consider legislation which could nullify a court ruling.
“I have given this to legal and asked them to look into it and give me some options,” Morrison said.
Patch published a poll Monday asking readers to voice their opinion on the issue. Of the 28 people responding, 23 would like to see the legislature take action and five are content to leave it to the courts.
One reader, J.J. Wheeler, is all for not taxing the golf course lands for he agrees with the majority on the buildings. He wants to see the clubs stay right where they are.
“We do not want these clubs be to bulldozed and turned into future development,” Wheeler writes. “That will bring a whole host of problems. But country clubs who own this land are now allowed to build clubhouses, temporary residences, banquet halls and other improvements to this "open space" should be taxed fairly and proportionally on those buildings.”
In addition to Onwentsia, the other clubs which could potentially receive a benefit are Shoreacres and Knollwood in Lake Bluff, Conway Farms in Lake Forest, Briarwood in Deerfield and Ravinia Green in Riverwoods along with Old Elm, Exmoor, Bob O’Link and Northmoor in Highland Park.
State Rep. Scott Drury (D-Highwood), whose district also includes all of Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Highland Park and Deerfield did not return calls to Patch before the deadline for this story.