Owner of "One Dollar" Race Track Property Was Not Sent Tax Bills for Two Years
The private Huron Township race course that got 240 acres of land for $1 in a deal with Wayne County and then sold part of it for $179,000 wasn't billed for property taxes in 2009 and 2010, township and county officials said.
Post It Stables, which owns Pinnacle Race Course, bought the land. It had a state equalized value of $14 million that would generate $730,000 in taxes a year, according to Wayne County Spokeswoman Stephanie Baron.
Linda Spangler, the Huron Township treasurer, said the race course property was never flagged in the township's database, so her department didn't know to send a bill to the property owner.
Spangler said the oversight will be handled during the board of review for assessment and taxation in December.
In an e-mail, Baron confirmed that the property does have liens against it. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation recommended the project be approved for up to $6.5 million in tax credits. In a memo, the MEDC stated its analysis found the company "financially sound."
Baron wrote that Post It Stables met the stipulations to complete the $1 deal.
The company had invested $28 million into the 240 acres by October of 2008. Post It Stables showed it created 2,038 construction jobs during construction of the race course. And there were 1,506 jobs "created" at the course, which included Michigan horse trainers, breeders, and off-site training facilities, according to Baron.
About 40 percent of the publicly-owned property was put back on the tax rolls, Baron wrote. New sewer lines and water mains were built in Huron Township by the county and new gas lines and electrical lines were placed on the property, according to the e-mail.
The deal became controversial when Post It Stables sold seven acres of the land to an Indian tribe for $179,000. Township officials say there are two other 5-acre parcels the owners are trying to sell.
"The issue isn't really whether Wayne County made the right judgment call in giving this property away as part of an 'economic development' program," Jack McHugh, senior legislative analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, wrote in an e-mail. "Rather, it's whether governments should be engaged in these discriminatory programs in the first place, picking winners and losers rather than creating a fair field with no favors.
"As long as they do, boondoggles and goof-ups like this will remain commonplace. More importantly, under such programs the rule of law is eroded and - to the extent they are used as a substitute for genuine tax, regulatory and labor law reform - the economy continues to languish."
Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.