It would be golf of the people, by the people and for the people.
Well, at least the people of the upscale Stonebridge subdivision on the West Bank of Jefferson Parish, and only if voters in the 900-plus-home subdivision approve a 45-mill, 20-year property tax on Nov. 18.
The tax revenue would fund the purchase of the subdivision's centerpiece golf course and clubhouse, which are losing money and in need of upgrades.
The tax would be levied by the Stonebridge Neighborhood Improvement and Beautification District, a political subdivision created by the Jefferson Parish Council in 2016 with the golf course purchase in mind. The tax would generate about $949,000 per year, according to the proposition on the ballot — an average of about $1,000 for each property in the neighborhood.
For the leaders of the district, passing the tax and buying Stonebridge Golf Club are a way to protect their property values.
The covenants in the neighborhood require the 189-acre property to be a golf facility until 2019. But after that, it could be sold and developed into something else, according to Ancil Taylor, a member of the district's board.
Fear that a new development on the site would drive down the value of the surrounding homes is at the core of the move to purchase the course, he said.
Following nationwide trends, the course has drawn fewer players, and parts of the 36,000-square-foot clubhouse are in need of upgrades.
A report commissioned by the property owners found that within the first year, the clubhouse would require about $890,000 in renovations. Another $437,000 in upgrades would be needed in years 2 through 12, the report says.
A few years ago, the owners of the golf course notified the property owners that they would be willing to sell it, but the property owners association could not legally purchase it, Taylor said.
The company that owns the course then closed nine of the holes and stopped maintaining them, he said.
"We were able to get a special district created under the state and the parish in order to possibly levy a tax and purchase the property and operate it," Taylor said.
The district already has a purchase agreement to buy the golf course for $1.674 million. If the tax is approved, the sale will go through early next year.
Taylor said he believes the proposal has broad support within the district. A survey conducted earlier this year showed that 83 percent of respondents felt that what happens to the golf course will affect their property values, and 62 percent would be willing to pay "some" tax to be able to use the facility.
"There are always people that are going to push back against a tax," Taylor said. "I'm usually one of those." But in this case, the potential benefits to property values would make the tax worth it, he said.
A 45-mill tax assessed on a $275,000 house with a homestead exemption would equate to $900 per year, or $75 per month. The neighborhood's covenants require a minimum of 2,500 square feet per house, and some have up to 6,000 or 7,000 square feet, Taylor said.
If the tax is approved, the district plans to begin making immediate upgrades to the golf facility. A report commissioned by the district found that nearly $900,000 worth of repairs and maintenance to the clubhouse would need to be done within the first year to bring it up to the level of quality needed to attract events such as weddings and other parties.
The district also plans to spend another $450,000 on a new pool, and about $200,000 is earmarked for tennis courts, Taylor said. There are also plans for dining options and fitness facilities.
The district projects that the golf course could become profitable sometime in the mid-2020s, though that's not the focus of this effort.
"We are trying to build something that will be fully available to the residents of the community," Taylor said.