Will Bluestem Lake lot rates rise?

Robert Smith rsmith@pawhuskajournalcapital.com

The Pawhuska City Council voted 5-0 last week to mandate better paperwork regarding name changes on leases for weekend getaway lots at Bluestem Lake. From now on, the Council wants signed documentation on all lot lease changes.

That was just the tip of the discussion, however, and councilors indicated a willingness to also look at raising the lease charge from the current rate of $350 a year.

The initial reason the council looked at last week for raising the annual lease cost is to cover the expense of putting four permanent garbage dumpsters at Bluestem. Interim City Manager Larry Eulert told councilors that raising the lease charge by $75 per year would allow city government to break even on the expense of setting out the four permanent dumpsters and having them emptied every Friday and Monday.

“This is just trash,” Eulert said, clarifying that a $75 increase would just offset the city’s proposed increased service in that one area.

Mayor Roger Taylor floated the idea that the Council might want to weigh whether an increase of more than $75 would help to cover other potential city expenses relative to the Bluestem Lake lots, and make it possible for Pawhuska to go a longer period of time without any new increases in lease charges.

Additionally, councilors talked about potentially creating a two-tiered, differential arrangement, where people from outside of Osage County would pay more for Bluestem Lake lots than local residents. The Council did not take any immediate action beyond the mandate of better paperwork on lake lot lease changes, but the members seemed inclined to take up the subject again.

“I like where this is going,” Councilor Steve Holcombe said, as he made a motion to table the discussion.

Eulert clarified in the aftermath of the Sept. 4 council meeting that there are 182 lake lots at Bluestem Lake, and 41 of those are leased by people who are not from Osage County. There is a waiting list for lake lots, but in practice that list is rarely used in the process of new parties taking over lot leases.

The general practice is that holders of lake lot leases find buyers for the improvements they’ve made on lake lots, according to city government. Those improvement-sale transactions can involve impressive sums of money, city government said. The resulting impression is of a market for lake lots that is difficult for Osage County locals of more modest financial means to crack.

Bluestem Lake lots are not supposed to be the sites of any permanent residences, and the city does not deliver potable water to lake lots, Eulert said.

“Nobody’s supposed to be living out there,” he said.