(Pictured: Trump National Golf Club Westchester)
The proposal targets Trump National Golf Club in Westchester, with a rally scheduled for later in April at that club to highlight proponents’ desire to have it “pay its fair share of taxes.” But other club and course operators throughout the state are speaking out against the proposal as unnecessary and unfair.
Legislation sponsored by New York state Sen. David Carlucci and state Assembly member Sandy Galef that is designed to target Trump Organization properties by giving local governments the authority to allow golf course assessments to be based on the property’s “highest and best use” instead of its current use is generating growing concern among other clubs in the state, the Auburn (N.Y.) Citizen reported.
Carlucci and Galef, both Democrats, are planning a rally later in April outside Trump National Golf Club Westchester, a course in downstate New York, to highlight their legislation and to call on President Trump to “pay his fair share of taxes,” the Citizen reported.
The Trump Organization is in a legal dispute with the town of Ossining in Westchester County, N.Y. regarding its property tax bill, and questions have been raised about the value of the property, the Citizen reported. When Donald Trump filed financial disclosures during his campaign for President, he claimed the golf club was worth $50 million. The Trump Organization has said it’s worth $1.4 million. Both figures are far off from the town of Ossining’s assessment, which is $15 million.
State Sen. Pam Helming, R-Canandaigua, has labeled the bill as the “golf tax” and expressed worry that clubs and golf courses located in the Finger Lakes region that she represents, as well as those near Lake Ontario, could face higher assessments because of their proximity to bodies of water, the Citizen reported.
And those higher taxes, Helming added, could lead some clubs and courses to close.
A We Are Golf study found that golf has an economic impact of $5.3 billion in New York, the Citizen reported, and that clubs and courses in the state have nearly 57,000 employees.
“There’s no question that everyone should pay their fair share of property taxes, but the state government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers,” Helming said. “To arbitrarily change the way properties in one particular industry are assessed is poor public policy and sets a dangerous precedent. It makes me wonder, what’s next?”
Club and course owners and managers in Helming’s district said the change would have an adverse impact on their businesses, the Citizen reported
John Rossi, a PGA golf professional at Geneva (N.Y.) Country Club, called it a step “toward putting us out of business.”
“As contributing taxpayers to the local and state government, we at Geneva Country Club find this golf tax unnecessary and unfair, and we completely oppose it,” Rossi said.
The lawmakers wrote in the justification for their bill that the highest and best use is defined as “the reasonably probable and legal use of vacant land or an improved property that is physically possible, appropriately supported, financially feasible, and that results in the highest value,” the Citizen reported.
“For the valuation of golf courses only, it could be used by assessors, at local option, to provide a more accurate assessment of the property,” the sponsors added.
The bill has four co-sponsors in the state Assembly, but none in the Senate, the Citizen reported. It was first introduced two years ago. It has yet to receive a floor vote in either chamber.