Golf club purchase doesn't sit well with all Lake Villa residents
Some Lake Villa residents fear they could end up the losers if the township goes through with a proposal to purchase the Antioch Golf Club, which has been hemorrhaging money for years.
Township Supervisor Dan Venturi, who wants to buy the course to preserve neighboring Lake Villa home values, said the club could turn a profit under the township’s ownership and operation.
But the 100-acre tract of land, which is outside the township, would cost roughly half of the $1.4 million Lake Villa has in reserves, according to the Daily Herald.
“In my opinion, and in the opinion of everyone that I have spoken to, this is a bad thing,” resident Michael Frederichs told the Lake County Gazette. “I am really surprised that the township was able to squirrel away as much money as they have. I have now taken an interest in this. Although there are no real rules on how much money they can squirrel away, the recommended amount is two to six months of reserves."
The purchase of the Antioch Golf Club must be approved by all registered voters who attend a special meeting of the Lake Villa Board of Trustees on Monday.
At the end of fiscal year 2016, the township's reserves were at 118 percent of the annual operational costs, an audit revealed. The township’s assets outweighed its liabilities by nearly $14 million, of which $1,399,429 was classified as “unrestricted” and “may be used to meet the township’s ongoing obligations to citizens and creditors," independent auditors from Evoy, Kamschulte, Jacobs, & Co. LLP reported to the Lake Villa Board of Trustees.
“That type of slush fund is dangerous because all it takes is 14 days,” Frederichs said. “They can talk about something in a meeting, and 14 days later they can hold a special meeting to vote on it, and all they need is 35 people at that meeting in order to push it through. Some additional checks and balances need to be put in place.”
As a privately held golf club, it operates with an annual loss of approximately $200,000. Venturi's plan involves purchasing and restoring the club for $950,000 and operating at a $100,000 deficit, "but 'just for a few years' they are sure," Frederichs said skeptically.
It's been reported that Venturi approached Antioch officials to gauge their interest in jointly owning and operating the club.
A purchase by Lake Villa would exempt it from taxation, leaving a revenue void of approximately $31,000 that would have to be made up elsewhere. In 2011, the current owners of the course paid approximately $39,000 in property taxes.
Only a portion of the homes bordering the course’s boundaries are Lake Villa properties, with home values of up to $400,000 for a single-family home.