Golf Course Lose ‘Greenbelt’ Tax Break

Two Knox County golf courses have lost their property tax breaks, reports the News-Sentinel.
Cherokee Country Club owes $324,385 in back taxes, according to the Knox County Property Assessor’s Office, a fee applied after it recently lost a tax benefit reserved for Tennessee’s open spaces.Holston Hills Country Club will owe $53,301.
The clubs have enjoyed tax subsidies since 1983 through classification as open spaces by the property assessor, under the state’s Greenbelt Law for agriculture, open space and forestry.
After a News Sentinel inquiry to the Tennessee comptroller of the Treasury on whether the golf courses should be considered open space, general counsel Robert T. Lee wrote in an opinion Sept. 26 that “golf courses cannot qualify for open space.”
In 2011, Cherokee received a $28,921 tax break and Holston Hills took a $3,496 tax break from Knox County. The intent of the Greenbelt Law when it was implemented was to protect farmers from being taxed off their land and encourage more open space and forested areas.
Knox County Property Assessor Phil Ballard said his office will comply with Lee’s opinion, and added that a five-year rollback would be applied right away. He said that attorneys representing both courses have contacted his office.
They could have waited to the reappraisal in 2013 to pull the golf course properties out of greenbelt but, “we went ahead and done it,” Ballard said.
Mark Moon, chief operating officer at Cherokee, said the board of directors would meet this week and he expects to discuss losing greenbelt status and the rollback.
“This kind of came out of left field for us,” Moon said.

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