Highland Park Has Problem (Boo Hoo!)

The August 3 Dallas newspaper gives a great metaphor for the growing divide between the rich and working people in America today. It says that the Highland Park Country Club is suing to have its county tax evaluation lowered from $13.7 million to last year's level of $3.7 million. It's the eighth time they have sued to have their annual appraisal lowered, and they are usually successful.

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The article says that they have just renovated their luxury facilities, pool and gate house. They occupy 118 acres of the richest real estate in North Texas. Highland Park is a super-wealthy "suburb" within the City of Dallas. It still boasts the only all-white high school. Non-white visitors, the joke goes, are welcome in Highland Park as long as they bring a lawn mower. The Hunts and most of the ruling class lives there. George W Bush is a close neighbor and former Fox News commentator Glen Beck says he is moving in soon.

A little quick googling puts the country club's tax valuation in perspective. They hold 118 acres and an acre is 43,560 square feet, so they have 43,560 X 118 = 5,140,080 square feet there. How much is that? Next door to where I live in a very modest section of Dallas, an empty lot is 50' * 130' or 6500 square feet, so, dividing, one can see that the Highland Park Country Club could be divided into 790 such lots. Make allowance for the width of streets and say they could only make 600 lots like the one next door.

The county tax assessor evaluated the lot next door at $34,000. Multiplying, we can see that the country club property, without any improvements, could make up $20,400,000 worth of empty lots like the one next door. Even at our rates, they should be valued at $20 million, but they aren't in my run-down neighborhood. They are in Highland Park!

The article also mentions that the exclusive membership doesn't pay any federal taxes on their $15 million in annual revenue, but that might be another story.