Baker City’s tentative plan to pay the estimated $930,000 cost to replace the irrigation system at the city-owned Quail Ridge Golf Course seems sensible.
Most importantly, the proposal doesn’t include any dollars from city taxpayers.
The city is applying for two state grants that would cover about 87 percent of the cost. The city has also secured commitments from the Leo Adler Foundation and the city’s Golf Board.
The other part of the plan calls for the city to sell 16 acres it owns adjacent to the 18-hole course, and use the proceeds as a local match that’s required by both state grants.
That land is part of the 60-acre parcel the city bought from Rob Ellingson in the early 1990s for $210,000. The city used the majority of the property for the nine-hole addition to the course, which opened in 1999. But the other 16 acres were too steep to be incorporated into the course.
The idea of selling the property is not new. After it became clear the acreage wouldn’t be part of the new nine holes, the city asked voters in May 1997 to authorize the sale of the property (voter approval is required for the sale of real property worth at least $5,000). By a margin of 77 percent to 23 percent, voters agreed to that idea.
It wasn’t until 2006, though, that the city officially advertised the parcel. That yielded interest from more than a dozen prospective buyers but only one actual bid — for $80,000 from Rocky and Diana Brown, who own property adjacent to the city’s land. The City Council declined to accept that offer.
The property hasn’t generated property tax revenue for the city for a quarter century. If the city can put the land back on the tax rolls, and help pay for a major project on a city-owned facility without tapping the budget, city councilors should take that opportunity.
From the Baker City Herald editorial board. The board consists of editor Jayson Jacoby and reporter Chris Collins.