he Platte County Commission has decided to exercise the option to buy the ground on which the county-owned and operated golf course sits.
With the move, commissioners are saying that for the first time since Shiloh Springs Golf Club opened one decade ago, the county has the opportunity to capitalize on its golf course investment.
The move to buy the 122 acres of land at a price of $1.6 million from Gary Martin comes after months of deliberation by the county commissioners.
Adding the purchase price to what is left on the original bond payment leaves the county owing a little more than $3.8 million on the golf course.
The county’s decision to purchase the land from Martin will give Platte County complete ownership of the course, which is located east of Platte City near Hwy. 92 and Bethel Road.
“The option we chose to exercise the purchase of the land gives us 100 percent complete control over Shiloh Springs Golf Course and gives us full ownership once we purchase the land,” stated 1st District Commissioner Tom Pryor. “Then our options are multiplied ten fold looking into the future.”
According to 2nd District Commissioner Jim Plunkett, with the county’s acquisition of the course, the county will be eligible to qualify for tax-exempt bonds.
“Because we are a government entity and we now run and manage Shiloh Springs ourselves, we qualify for tax-exempt bonds,” said Plunkett.
In 1993, Platte County issued neighborhood improvement district (NID) bonds to finance completion of the golf course and construction improvements. The original bonds secured in 1993 were not tax exempt due to the private lease operation with Martin. In 2000, Platte County took over management of the course making the tax-exempt financing a viable option this year.
The original ground lease with Martin Investments called for an annual payment of $116,000 in addition to the yearly bond payment of over $400,000.
The taxable bonds that became callable on Sept. 1 had an interest rate of 8 percent. Once the county enters into the new bond agreement, they will secure an interest rate of 3.5-4 percent.
“As far as all of the money that would be paid out in payments, comparing the past interest rate to the current interest rate, it made as much sense to purchase the land now versus ten years from now,” said Pryor.
“Along with the interest rate savings, we’re also saving the lease rate. Right now we pay $500,000 per year, which includes bonds plus the land lease. I believe we had eight more payments left-so that’s $4 million left- plus we would still need to pay for the land at the end of the ten years, which is $1.6 million.”
The county commission began reviewing numerous scenarios regarding the future of Shiloh Springs at the end of June.
During that time they have held several meetings with Randy Irey from Gilmore and Bell, who developed the original documents for Shiloh 10 years ago; Phil Richter with UMB Bank concerning the current and new bonds; Martin as the landowner of Shiloh Springs; and with real estate attorney Mike Keleher and the park board, to formulate a plan addressing the best solution for everyone involved.
Plunkett said he feels they chose the best possible option because it offers the best for everyone involved.
“Instead of paying rent/lease, we now will be building equity in a piece of property that the taxpayers own,” he said.
While some may have thought it would have been in the county’s best interest to walk away from Shiloh, the county was not satisfied with that solution.
“We have a substantial investment in Shiloh already, if you go back and factor in the money that we have put into it in the last 10 years,” said Plunkett. “This was the first time the county had the opportunity to own the ground that the improvements were on top of.”
Plunkett added, “We couldn’t walk away from our obligations, we just couldn’t do that.” With the decision to go out and pursue bonds, the commissioners joined together to embrace the challenge that has become Shiloh.
“Shiloh has been in a downward spiral, but what we’re doing now is we’re going to be in a rebuilding process,” stated Plunkett. “This is the first time that the county has embraced Shiloh.”
Presiding Commissioner Betty Knight agreed with Plunkett during a press conference on Thursday.
“Shiloh Springs has been there over the years, however it’s never really been a part of the Platte County family,” said Knight.
“The county has taken ownership and we now have a new commitment level in Shiloh that is higher than in the past,” continued Plunkett.
The commission plans to issue a resolution this week to move forward with securing the bond financing for Shiloh.