Eagles club asks members for financial help

Published 6:37 am Friday, April 23, 2010

With the Austin Eagles facing financial difficulties, its leaders are asking members for donations to keep the club operating.

Eagles leaders mailed out a letter dated April 16 highlighting the club’s financial difficulties, which are largely because of the inability to pay property taxes.

The club has 1,300 members, according to the letter.

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The Eagles is paying about $28,000 each year in property taxes on the club’s new facility at 107 11th St. NE, the letter states. In addition, the $28,000 in property taxes is a 300 percent increase in property taxes compared with the previous Eagles property.

As of April 19, the Eagles owed $50,058.26 in property taxes for 2008 and 2009 — $41,188 in unpaid taxes, plus $3,073.94 in interest, $5,766.32 in penalties and $30 in fees. According to records in the Mower County Auditor Treasurer’s office, a redemption period has been set and is scheduled to end May 14, 2012.

If the delinquent taxes aren’t paid by that time, the Eagles could be forfeited and later put up for auction. A property typically faces foreclosure after three years of delinquent taxes.

Not only does the club have to pay the unpaid taxes and penalties, it must also pay about $28,000 taxes due in 2010, the letter stated.

“Our efforts over the past two years to work with the county assessor to lower the tax valuation have been unsuccessful,” the letter states. “In the meantime, we experienced cash flow issues that have not allowed us to pay our real estate taxes when they came due.”

The letter lists a number of factors that have led to reduced revenue at the club, including the statewide smoking ban, changes to drunk driving laws and Diamond Jo Casino in Northwood, Iowa. Lawful gambling revenue at the Eagles has fallen from about $1.8 million in 2000 to $741,483 in 2009.

“This will be an ongoing issue for the club unless we make some adjustments to our cash flow that are substantial enough to cover this ongoing expense,” the letter stated.

In the letter, the officers ask for one-time donations by member as part of a plan to raise up $250,000 to “provide the resources necessary for a profitable operation.” The club would meet that goal if 60 percent of its members donate $350 each or if 80 percent of the members donate $250.

The officers ask for member to make donations before May 1 in order to meet the next tax deadline, though the letter states they will accept donations after that date.

Along with asking for donations, Eagles leaders plan to change the club’s dues structure. Club officials plan to increase yearly dues by $20 to have more local money staying with the Austin club. According to the letter, only a small portion of current dues stays with the local club, as most goes to the overall Eagles organization. The change could add an additional $20,000 in revenue each year, and the letter said the increase is comparable to other clubs.

According to the letter, the money will be used to pay off upcoming property taxes and back taxes so the club is current by the end of the year. It will also be used to restructure mortgage debts and reduce monthly payments.

The money could also be used to finance efforts to challenge the assessed value of the property to reduce future property taxes, though this will only be done if club leaders believe there’s a chance for success.

Eagles leaders declined to comment for this story.