Golf pro loses business, blames tax struggles

Originally Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2013, 7:53 pm
Last Updated: Aug. 27, 2013, 12:14 am
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By Stephen Elliott,

SILVIS -- Kurt Kretchman said death and taxes go hand-in-hand, at least for the business he lost along with his retirement money.

The former owner of Protential Golf Center, 2001 John Deere Road, Silvis, Mr. Kretchman, 63, said he could not pay his taxes on the 30-acre property when they rose 600 percent from 2007 to 2008.He attributed the jump to the Silvis Walmart which opened its doors next to his former business in March 2008.

"I lost my business I had for 13 years, and my land, and my retirement, because somebody built a new store next to my property," he said."They (Rock Island County) taxed me out of everything."

Hampton Township Assessor James Cramblett, who made the assessment change, said his decision was based on similar commercial properties in that area of the Illinois 5/John Deere Road corridor. According to Rock Island County Supervisor of Assessments Larry Wilson, Mr. Kretchman's property was revalued by Mr. Cramblett in 2007 from $167,587 to $1,051,521.

Mr. Kretchman's property tax bill went from $16,000 in 2007 to $99,000 in 2008.

He said he had the land paid for in 2007, butlost his driving range and golf pro shop due to the mounting tax debt."I got nothing," Mr. Kretchman said Monday.

The tax assessment also has prevented him from selling the site, Mr. Kretchman said. In the past six years, he said,he's had only one offer from a Rockford developer who later let his option to buy expire. In November 2011, he tried to sell the land at auction; nobody would bid on it.

Last month, Mr. Kretchman signed over the land he bought in 1994 to Blackhawk Bank and Trust. He does not blame the bank, saying it worked with him as long as it could.

Instead, Mr. Kretchman blames Mr. Cramblett, Rock Island County and the state. He said his business was bled to death by the revalued 2007 assessment that left him with "insanely corrupt taxes" on the property.

Mr. Kretchman said he paid $99,000 in property taxes in 2008. He paid $92,000 in 2009, $94,000 in 2010, $73,000 in 2011 and $58,000 in 2012.

According to the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board Mr. Kretchman tried to sell his property for $3.7 million in October 2008 but received no offers. In June 2011, the asking price was reduced to $1.9 million, according to the appeal board.

Mr. Kretchman said he eventually sought $895,000 in an attempt to lower his assessment by lowering his asking price. And the assessment fell as the asking price fell.

By 2012, Mr. Cramblett had set the property's value at $500,000. Mr. Kretchman filed an appeal with the county's board of review in 2012; they decreased the assessment from $500,000 to $298,305.

But by then, Mr. Kretchman said, the damage had been done. Additionally, the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board in 2012 also upheld the county board of review's 2007 ruling that $1,051,521 was the proper assessment for Mr. Kretchman's site.

Mr. Cramblett said he is sympathetic to Mr. Kretchman, but said his assessment was based on more than a new Walmart store.

"There were a number of commercial land sales that year," Mr. Cramblett said."I can't just chase a sale.Not only do you have to find a market value, you have to do it in an equitable and fair way.

"That's what was done in 2007."

Larry Wilson, chief county assessor for Rock Island County, said no one ever argued Mr. Kretchman's property wasn't assessed at fair market value.

"We assess property so that everybody is paying their fair share," he said. "Unfortunately, we have no control over (Mr. Kretchman's) taxes. The taxes are determined by the taxing districts."

Mr. Kretchman said his written requests for help from Rock Island County board members, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, and state Reps. Mike Smiddy, D-Hillsdale, and Pat Verschoore, D-Milan, brought no help.

Rock Island County Board Chairman Phil Banaszek said he has no answers for Mr. Kretchman.

"It sounds like when he bought the property, then Walmart moved in and the value of his property increased," Mr. Banaszek said. "Of course, so did his taxes. It sounds like he got caught in a bind.

"I don't know how the county board is tied to this," Mr. Banaszek said. "We're just another taxing body like anybody else who would collect taxes from that district."

Jim Grafton, Silvis city administrator, said he feels terrible for Mr. Kretchman.

"We tried to help with what little we could to advertise and promote the property," he said."We put it into a new TIF (tax increment financing) area to help bring attention to the area; it didn't materialize."

Mr. Grafton said Silvis calls the area that included Mr. Kretchman's site the "miracle mile" -- not because of the Walmart store, but because "it seems to be one of the corridors that is rapidly growing."

For Mr. Kretchman, there was no such luck.

"I put a lot of sweat in that place," he said.

"People get hurt, people lose things and people go broke," he said. "I did all three."


Local events heading

  Today is Wednesday, Oct. 1, the 274th day of 2014. There are 91 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: It is rumored in the streets that the 13 negroes sent to Quincy on the Moline quota were refused. We think this must be a mistake.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Harvey McKenna, of Detroit, billiard player matched to play Wizard Schafer in New York in January for the world championship, was a professional friend and manager, Billy Catton in Rock Island.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Levi Cralle, former Rock Island county sheriff, had come from his farm near Mitchell, S.D. to visit friends in the city.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Work is being rushed on the new high school building in Orion to replace the one destroyed by fire last winter. Classes are being held in churches.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Rehearsals for the 84th season of the Handel Oratorio Society chorus will begin at 7:30 p.m. Monday on the stage of Centennial Hall, Augustana College.
1989 -- 25 years ago: The Rock Island City Council's plan announced this week to have the federal government vacate Valley Homes public housing and move residents to Arsenal Courts to reduce density may not be feasible.

(More History)