August 1, 2012 | LXXII, No. 18

Golf course eating up funds

Future is in question

The port district has invested over $100,000 in Banks Lake Golf Course since it took over in April, a financial report revealed last week.

The cost of running the course through July 27, was $143,216, with golf course receipts totaling only $42,963.79.

Port District 7 stepped in this past spring when it became apparent that the golf course would have to close. Commissioners told interested golfers who turned out for a public meeting then that they would keep the course open this year.

Initially, the port district sought a golf course operator, but it couldn’t find anyone interested in taking the course over.

“We are going to have to figure out what we are going to do,” Commission Chair Orville Scharbach said Friday.

Accordingly, the port district has called a special meeting at 5 p.m. this Thursday at the airport office to discuss the status of the golf course. The meeting is open to the public.

The port district has almost used up its reserve, with the financial statement given to commissioners last Thursday showing only $49,068 left in the port coffers.

Contributing to the problem was a disastrous June, hampered by an unusually wet month and an effort to repair badly damaged greens. During greens repair, the golf course only charged half rate to golfers.

June’s receipts at the golf course were only $3,012.70, compared to almost $27,000 in expenses.

The port district has had to pay out over $47,000 for leases on golf carts and mowers.

Commissioner Stan Conklin told fellow commissioners that the course badly needed over $6,000 for fertilizer and that there were places where the fairways weren’t getting water.

Commissioners have worked right along with staff trying to cut expenses, but have been overwhelmed with details and sometimes unforeseen expenses.

Initially commissioners had to lay out $12,000 for inventory at the golf shop. Greens repair due to winter damage has cost $6,000.

When asked about the port district’s declining bank account and whether the course could remain open, Scharbach said, “It depends on how we spend money from here on out.”

The course was abandoned in early spring by its former operator and a number of bills had to be paid before play could begin this year.

The only end game was the hope that commissioners could find an operator who wanted to come in and invest time and money to take over the course.

That hasn’t happened, and it raises the question whether the port district will be able to finance the course for the remainder of the year, and if so, whether the course can open again next year.

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