CITY OF BURLEY UTILITY RATE INCREASES / GOLF COURSE SUBSIDY
As a business owner in the City of Burley and former manager of the Burley City Golf Course I am concerned with the constant increase in utility rates and the on going ever increasing losses and subsidies to the Burley Golf Course.
In May of 2019 the City Council voted unanimously to publish an RFP ( Request for Proposals) to manage or lease the River’s Edge Golf Club at Burley. Quote from the RFP “The City Council has requested that a Golf Course Management or Lease RFP be issues to explore the private operation, management and marketing of the public course in response to increasing General Fund subsidies and golf course debt. The city seeks to reduce or eliminate the General Fund subsidies. It is possible that another entity with new approaches, resources, and ideas may be more successful in changing the revenue picture for the golf course” end of quote! The City was hoping someone would come and offer them a total bail out. In my opinion the RFP was written so as to discourage any person or company from submitting a proposal. With many restrictions and financial requirements that made a lease not workable. Ponderosa Golf LLC did come up with a management proposal that was submitted to the City. It was the only proposal submitted. Ponderosa LLC consists of Earl Simpson financial officer and Dan Simpson general manager.
Ponderosa LLC offered the City a proposal to provide all labor and management of the golf course, including maintenance of the grounds and operation of the club house and café. For a fixed amount $225,000.00 per year. The City is currently spending $372,226.00 a year for labor. Under current operations the City had 3 full time year round employees at the course, @ 272,226.54 and spends an addition $100,000.00 for seasonal labor from a temp service. Seeing as the golf course operation is seasonal, Ponderosa LLC proposed to have one full time year round employee and hire most additional help on a seasonal basis. The City stated that the labor figure was only $345,000.00 as they charged a portion of the labor to the City Parks Dept. Even using this figure the proposal would have saved the City a minimum of $120,000.00 per year. The RFP called for a 5 year contract that would have saved the City $600,000.00 . Ponderosa LLC also proposed ideas to increase revenue and cut operation costs.
From River’s Edge Golf Course Financial figures provided in the RFP the Golf Course lost $302,094.00 in fiscal year 2017-2018, $237,837.00 in 2016-2017, and $211,797.00 in 2015-2016. Also in the RFP the City provided an equipment list that would stay at the golf course under a lease agreement. This list was missing many high priced pieces of equipment, tractors, leaf sweepers, sprayers, utility vehicles, hand tools, mechanic tools. Ect. When this was questioned, the response was “ They were purchased with
Funds from the general budget and would be transferred to the Parks Dept. The financials show the losses listed, with wages being transferred to the Parks Dept. and equipment being charged to which dept. You could wonder what the actual loss is before adjustments?
Use of the golf course has greatly declined over the last few years, memberships and rounds of golf are way down. Many of the former members have joined the Rupert Country Club for various reasons. The Rupert Country Club is actually at capacity and can accept no new members. When former members were asked why the chose to join the Rupert Club, Many replied “ Because it fun to play there” Ponderosa Golf LLC had many suggestions to make golf more fun at the Burley Course. Those suggestions were discounted.
The City Council rejected the proposal from Ponderosa LLC by a 4-2 vote. The two most outspoken Councilmen against the proposal are the two incumbents running for reelection, Russ Mallory , and John Craner. Russ is an avid golfer and uses the golf course at no charge, with the decreased play at the Burley Course , he likes it just the way it is. John Craner was disappointed that the Ponderosa proposal did not excite him with great new ideas, only a guaranteed savings, and decrease in the deficit. This is exactly what the council originally requested.
When you go to the polls next week, if you are tired of increased utility costs, and the profits from the utilities being used to subsidies the golf course. Vote for new council members. Sadly the Councilman that championed fiscal responsibility, Randy Hawkins chose not to seek reelection.
Ponderosa Golf LLC.