Bonner County took possession of the Sandpoint, Idaho course and nearly 200 undeveloped parcels during a tax deed hearing earlier this week and will fast-track the auction to July 9 to preserve the property’s value.
The Bonner County Commission is planning to auction off The Idaho Club golf course to satisfy outstanding tax debts, the Sandpoint (Idaho)-based Bonner County Daily Bee reported.
The county took possession of the Sandpoint, Idaho course and nearly 200 undeveloped parcels during a tax deed hearing on Tuesday morning, but held off on setting an auction date after forging an 11th-hour agreement with a group that pledged to maintain the course for the next few months, the Daily Bee reported.
But within hours, the board opted to place the auction on a faster track to ensure the Jack Nicklaus-signature course does not wind up going fallow, which would drive down its value. Speeding up the auction timeline preserves the value of the course and heightens the likelihood that the county will recoup the lost tax revenue, the Daily Bee reported.
“It minimizes our risk,” Commissioner Mike Nielsen said after the series of meetings.
The auction is set for July 9. The county’s outside counsel for the tax deeding, Boise attorney Gery Edson, recommended that bidders be required to put up a $100,000 deposit. “That way you’ll know you’re dealing with interested parties,” Edson said.
The minimum bid price for Pend Oreille Bonner Development’s 176 parcels is tentatively forecasted to be in the neighborhood of $2 million, according to county Treasurer Cheryl Piehl. The minimum bid would cover six years of overdue taxes, interest, late fees and costs associated with the tax deeding process. Costs will continue to accrue up until through the closing date of the sale, the Daily Bee reported.
The top bidder will also have to provide more than $4 million in surety bonds to ensure that planned road and utility infrastructure will be constructed. Any money raised in excess of the minimum bid could be directed toward satisfying liens that have been placed against the property, the Daily Bee reported.
“They could put a claim in for the overage and then it will have to be sorted out and paid in priority, which could involve a judicial process because it’s so complicated,” Piehl said.
Under the terms of the temporary occupancy agreement, New TIC LLC is solely responsible for the course’s maintenance. No tax dollars or county resources will be used for its upkeep. However, county officials made it clear that they don’t want the property to go to waste, the Daily Bee reported.
“It’s a big concern. I want the public to know that we share the concerns,” said commission Chairman Cary Kelly.
When Pend Oreille Bonner Development purchased Hidden Lakes Golf Resort in the mid-2000s and fashioned it into The Idaho Club, the course became private. “I would request the opportunity to have input on behalf of securing—at some level and at some price—golf for the Bonner County community,” said Fred Palmer of Bonner Community Golf & Recreation.
Edson urged the board against such a move for practical and legal reasons. In the latter case, the county would be taking on liability if a golfer became injured on the course. Moreover, the county has no interest in getting into the golfing business, the Daily Bee reported.
“That’s the last thing we want to do. We would not take that on,” said Kelly.