Reported by: Caresse Jackman
LOWNDES COUNTY, Miss. – (WCBI)Fred Hall owns Elm Lake Golf Course in Lowndes County. The course lies in the midst of 130 upscale homes. Homes whose property value depends on the courses success.
“We provide substantial property taxes to the county, property values for the home owners, for example if the golf course did not remain open the home values out here would plummet. And it’s getting awfully hard now to survive with the economy as it is and with the unfair competition that we’re being faced with,” said Hall.
He’s talking about Lion Hills Golf Club. The luxurious club house is owned by East Mississippi Community College. They don’t pay property taxes and has a lower membership rate. Stanley Taggart, President of Green Oaks Golf Course also feels Lion Hills puts pressure on his business by not paying taxes.
“They don’t have that burden on them. Where we have to pay it. There’s a need for all of us in the community and Lion Hills is subsidized by the government and they’re lowering their prices below ours to get members. We’re making it and financially sound at this point, but we’d like to keep it that way,” said Taggart.
Dr. Paul Miller, Vice President of EMCC’s Golden Triangle Campus, says the other courses need to remember one thing: They’re an educational institution.
” We’re not required to pay the property tax, but from our business side we are required to pay sales tax,” said Dr. Miller.
Miller says they include a sales tax and pay it to the State, just like any other business. They also use revenue generated from auxiliary services, just like any other college.
” We pocketed that money and we saved that money for years and years to make good investment,” said Dr. Miller.
And that investment is showing, this fall they’ll have an influx of students taking classes at Lion Hills.
“They’re gonna see many, many more students out on the golf course learning turf management and how to work in that environment. So if they really think about this as we do, Lion Hills is one more campus that we have at East Mississippi Community College,” said Dr. Miller.
Dr. Miller also wanted to add that they’re not the only institution in Mississippi that owns a golf course. Mississippi State has one and so does Hinds Community College in Raymond, Mississippi and Copiah Lincoln Community College in Wesson.