A lot of our Member Clubs might not be familiar with the Texas Alliance of Recreational Organizations (TARO) or the important legislative work the association does on behalf of clubs across the state. Because the Texas Golf Association is a key supporter of TARO, that means our Member Clubs are automatically being represented to ensure they have a strong voice in the state’s political arena. It’s another example of how the TGA is working on and off the golf course to bring value to our membership.
Conceived and organized in 1993, TARO is a non-profit coalition of clubs, other organizations and individuals interested in recreational activities within the state. In addition to the TGA, TARO enjoys the support of many allied organizations with thousands of members including the Northern and Southern Texas Sections of the PGA, the Texas Chapters of the Club Managers, Golf Course Superintendents and United States Tennis Associations and the Texas Turfgrass Association.
The foremost purpose of TARO is to participate effectively in the state’s legislative and regulatory processes for the benefit of its supporters and their constituents. This participation involves a high-quality lobbying effort with the Legislature, monitoring regulations under existing laws, a continuing communication program with its supporters centering on legislative and regulatory issues affecting them, and maintenance of an action network, which is mobilized as necessary to advocate Alliance positions.
TARO also serves to educate its supporters on issues affecting them and to foster good will among its supporters by preparation and circulation of periodic publications and sponsorship of educational programs.

As the trade association for the Texas club industry, TARO’s main objectives are: 1) To be actively involved in the political world and 2) To shape polices that arise from it. The following ongoing issues remain high priorities for TARO and our allied associations:

Greenbelt Act
In Texas since 1977 property taxes on restricted recreational lands have been based on the appraised value of the land as used and not what it might be used for. This saves clubs in Texas tens of thousands of dollars every year. This is known as the Greenbelt Law. It is fair and entirely justified by the aesthetic and environmental advantages realized by the areas blessed with such recreational land. Moreover, much of the value of property adjoining recreational land is attributable to the existence of the recreational land. You should know that clubs and other owners of recreational land do pay taxes on buildings based on regular appraisal values. In recent sessions there have been attempts, sometimes just threats, to repeal the Greenbelt law. TARO has successfully defended Greenbelt and will continue to do so.

Some non-golf clubs mistakenly believe TARO is only about Greenbelt and does not benefit them. A financially healthy private club industry is important to all clubs, whether city clubs, golf, tennis, fishing, sailing or other clubs. However, many clubs that own recreational land would be taxed out of existence without the protection of Greenbelt treatment in valuing that land. Thus the entire club industry benefits from Greenbelt. 
As the state’s population continues to grow, the demand for water will remain a high priority issue for recreational clubs. TARO works closely with the Lone Star Chapter – GCSA and allied associations to educate regulators and lawmakers that we, as an industry, are good users of water and are proactive in taking conservation measures and employing best practice measures.
Public Accommodation Laws
One important reason TARO was formed was to protect the right of free association. In recent times clubs have been targets for so called “public accommodation” laws. These laws sought to open membership in social organizations by defining them as public accommodations, which would have to be open to everyone.

Alcohol Regulations
TARO has fought efforts to increase the fees charged for the many permits required for private clubs under the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code. This also included bills to require the posting of cash conduct security bonds.  Many private clubs in Texas cannot afford any increase in permit fees and are struggling to meet current expenses.

TARO retains Gib Lewis, former Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, as a full time legislative consultant to represent the club industry before state agencies and the Legislature.

Allied Association Education Events
TARO provides the Texas club industry with an opportunity to hear from industry experts on important regulatory and legislative matters. These events are open to all allied association members, as well as club board members.

To learn more about the vital work TARO does, CLICK HERE to visit their website.