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4/24/2013 6:00:00 AM
Kingman golf course: Tourism asset, or budget liability?
The city-owned Cerbat Cliffs Golf Course has plenty of critics, but supporters say it helps drive tourism dollars to Kingman.RODNEY HAAS/Miner
The city-owned Cerbat Cliffs Golf Course has plenty of critics, but supporters say it helps drive tourism dollars to Kingman.

Doug McMurdo
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - Many residents who are concerned about the city's budget woes wonder why Cerbat Cliffs Golf Course can't be sold to a private party.

After all, the course takes more than $1.3 million out of the general fund each year, money that could be used to pay for essential services.

Instead, the money pays for salaries and supplies, water and sewer and phones and all the other items that go into maintaining and running a golf course.

While the City Council has not exhibited any appetite whatsoever to divest itself of Cerbat Cliffs, there are compelling reasons, both legal and practical, why they can't just put up a for sale sign.

Supporters, furthermore, say the golf course brings visitors and their money to Kingman.

As Mayor John Salem has said a few times over the past few months, voters approved funding the golf course and it will be voters who decide what to do with it in the face of a looming budget crisis.

"It's not our golf course to sell," said Salem.

Voters would have the final say if the City Council did want to sell the 40-year-old course.

Political subdivisions cannot sell government assets with an appraised value of $500,000 or more without a public vote.

There is a key fact in this debate that would make selling Cerbat Cliffs a case of throwing the baby out with the bath water.

While some perceive the golf course as a luxury that caters to a minority of residents at the expense of all residents, proponents claim the course contributes to the Kingman economy whenever tournaments are held.

People buy gas and food, and sometimes they rent motel rooms. The Miner was unable to find specific information on the economic benefit, such as motel room taxes golfers contributed to city coffers, or where they eat and what they spend.

In fiscal year 2011-2012, roughly 30,500 18-hole rounds were played at Cerbat Cliffs. This year, an estimated 32,400 rounds will have been played when the fiscal year ends June 30. About 34,500 rounds are expected to be played next year.

Tangible improvements have been made. Proposed for the next fiscal year is the purchase and installation of a $20,000 awning for the pro shop and improvements to the pro shop for another $18,000. About $8,000 could be set aside to core the greens and curb the cart paths. The cart lease of $45,000 also is in the budget.

The city has only two bond obligations. One is the 2005 construction of the Airway Railroad Underpass Project.

The city's share of the $10 million project is $2.8 million, which is being paid with a 15-year excise tax revenue bond. The project will be paid off in 2020.

The second obligation is the expansion of Cerbat Cliffs Golf Course from nine holes to 18 that took place in the mid-1990s, according to City Manager Jack Kramer.

Only two payments remain before the expansion is paid for. The next payment for $445,500 is due in June. The final payment of $645,750 is due June 2014.

Here's a snapshot of the golf course's proposed general fund budget for fiscal year 2013-2014 beginning July 1:

Salaries (including part time and temporary help, overtime pay, certification pay, other personnel expenses such as matching workers compensation insurance and the state retirement fund, and benefit contributions): $459,552.

Supplies and Services (including inmate labor, golf course management, sewer services, sand, seed, sprinklers, repair and maintenance, telephone, janitorial and first aid supplies, utilities, fuel, printing, dues, office supplies, travel etc,): $752,635.

Salaries could increase by about $35,000 over last year's figures, despite vacant superintendent and groundskeeper positions that will remain unfilled. The bulk of the increase is due to the number of temporary workers the course will hire.

Supplies and Services will increase moderately by about $11,000 if the City Council ultimately approves the golf course budget.

The final budget hearing will be held in May. A specific date has not been announced.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, May 2, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

To be clear...I did not suggest a shopping center...I ridiculed it. Look at the amount of empty commercial buildings existing...what does that tell you? And look at how well the shopping malls in LHC, BHC and Laughlin are doing. Empty stores, discount shoes, and the like. Real high end stuff.

As to the local housing market coming back? Wow...what city is that happening in? Sure houses are selling....but not McMansions. The modest home across the street sold in just a few days....for roughly 75% of what it was worth 5 yrs ago. But that was done by a young mother with family assistance...not the type of buyer for higher end new homes. And I love the "full availability to utilities and roads". Available yes...but could they support the construction of another 50 homes? Or would roads need to be improved? Power, water, and sewage would likely need upgrades. And then it becomes what? A large collection of overpriced homes on small lots near the freeway. they'll sell like hotcakes. Or maybe it will drive people that can afford larger homes up into the Hualapais for the view, to Valley Vista or LHC for golf. How about some of the developments that are all set to be built over near the cemetery? Everything is ready to go....don't see any new construction going on there. I'd think some developer would kill to get that at a good price...not.

As I've said before...I don't golf and only know any GOBs by what I've read in the paper.

Look at the figures...32000 rounds played...must be a lot of 1%ers here. Guess the HS golf program will be gone if it gets sold also. Where would they play?

Posted: Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Article comment by: Course Needs to Go

As of Tuesday there were 28 comments on this subject. At least 3/4 are for the sell. Our council should at least discuss the issue.

Posted: Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Article comment by: Mayor, Council Action Is Required

It's probably a fair assumption that V.Stokes, Duffer Dave, and We Need It (like a hole in the head) and the other supporters of this white elephant are concerned about their self interests not what is best for the MAJORITY of us. Let's address some of their comments.

Because of the limited road access and the expected outcry of the homeowners there, zoning for a "mall" or other commercial venture is not going to happen. An upscale housing development is very feasible. Comments by Ask Yourself...make a strong case.

V's worry about a developer buying it then letting it sit isn't likely for a couple reasons. The local housing market is coming back. Developers don’t buy land with full availability to utilities and roads and hold it for 5 or 10 years - they all were hurt in the recession and are now looking for quick returns. That location, freeway visibility and infrastructure guarantees quick action. Taxes alone on that large a parcel - 11 acres located in high tax area would force a developer to build. Also the sales contract can eliminate such concerns.

And as far as trying to debunk the statement, "big developers would kill to have that land" LET'S PUT IT TO THE TEST. I'm sure that statement would be proven accurate once the first For Sale sign is posted.

We, the majority don't want to waste another dollar, another year, another day on supporting an unnatural, water hungry (remember this is the desert) chunk of city that is enjoyed by a very small percentage of Kingmanites while having it continue to suck away resources.

Posted: Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Article comment by: Vote for the New CCC

Why are we worried about the homes on the golf course? The issue is the cost of the golf course to the city. We are tired of subsidizing the select few in this town. V. Stokes might has the solution to our city's financial problem. Since the city depends on sales tax, why not build a shopping center there? Sounds like a great idea. We immediately turn a cost center into a revenue center. Hey, we could even make it simple instead of Cerbat Cliffs Golf Course the new open air shopping center would be called Cerbat Cliffs Center.

Posted: Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Article comment by: 1% Are Tired of The Freeloading 1% - Sell the Course

Yea, V.Stokes that's much of the issue. Why should the 99% of Kingmanites pay so the 1% that have houses on the course benefit.

Posted: Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Article comment by: We Need It

@ V Stokes

I agree with all of your posts on this particular article.

It is amazing to me that no one is considering the other parks. Also, unless I'm missing something. If I did the math correctly, once the final expansion payment is made in 2014, won't this be self-sustaining with the green fees it's collecting?

This golf course is one if the few "finer things" we have here in Kingman. Why would we want to take it away?

Oh I see... It's because people like gun owner 000 and Let the voters DECIDE think we should because they don't "know" anybody that plays golf, or think that it's just the anti-"Walmart crowd" kind of people that play there.

I play there quite often and I shop at Walmart. I know more people who play there than who don't, and it's not just the so-called "elite". I have had great bonding moments with my children on that course. Golf teaches a lot about life. Some of you should put down the controler, and give it a try sometime.

Posted: Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Article comment by: Robert Lane

By realistic people ,
@ justanobody sr. and bobby jones

People that are living on 500.00 to 700 dollars a month and paying property taxes really hate people like you !Do know how many people really live with less than 1000.00 a month in kingman and golden valley ? You good ole boys also want cadalics for cars, most of us just settle for any thing that runs because we are trying to help raise our grandkids ! No more taxes we cannot even take a group of kids for burgers unless we leave one out because of your extra tax ,and you really think kingman is a tourist place !!! Quit hurting the poor by saying you are making it better for us. The good ole boys trying the game of shame again ! Sell and help the court system and library in kingman so our next generations will be better off,these are always in budget ( thanks Judge Mc Coy and Ruthie } !The Justice court really has helped the young from graduating up to superior court in kingman, (thanks to Judges Taylor and Lambert and their right hands )
We now have real people for the BOS, maybe they can help ?

Posted: Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

"big developers would kill to have that land"

I keep seeing this with either homes or a mall being suggested. Which big developer would that be? The one that declared bankruptcy and had to sell off a bunch of his failed developments? Or one of the others that are just flocking here to build higher end homes and malls..... Oh Wait! They aren't doing that are they?

Does anyone understand the reason the homes out there are worth more on average? Because they are on THE GOLF COURSE. Take that away and they become overpriced homes with mostly very small yards. As to a much do you think the value of those homes would be if they were 100ft from a mall parking lot instead of a golf course? How about the access? New freeway exit? Yeah right. Just widen and renovate some of the existing roads? So how many homes will have to be torn down and how much money will the owners lose?

Finally..look at what happens if it goes up for sale. Someone buys it for the minimum price and then it just sits there vacant and unattended for 5 yrs until MAYBE it's worth doing something with. Not sure you can put requirements on something you are trying to sell.

Centennial park would probably be worth more. Good access, nice square lot, no big hills or anything, near other shopping. Perfect for a new high end shopping mall...not that anyone could afford to buy anything.

Posted: Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Article comment by: justanobody SR

all you whiners don't complain about all the other parks, and YES, they cost us money! alot of money! (look at the water and lights and baseball diamond maintenance at centennial park!)
I find it a welcome sight to see the green grass from the freeway, not just dirt and desert!
but alot of you will complain no matter what,
so why bother even trying to explain.
go on back to your whining, and wishing for something you will never have!

Posted: Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Article comment by: gun owner 000

Sadly, this is a case of the few, expecting the rest of us to pay for their entertainment.
I don't personally know anybody who uses the golf course. In fact, I don't even know any of the grounds keepers or maintenance people, and I've lived here a long time. I live on a fixed income, and seldom have the "disposable income" to spend on golfing.

Posted: Monday, April 29, 2013
Article comment by: Going, Going Gone

Citizen C,, "Citizens of Kingman can't support a privately owned course."

Nor can the citizens of Kingman afford a city owned course

Posted: Monday, April 29, 2013
Article comment by: Curious Minds Want to Know

Citizen, C., now what line item is that in the city budget?

Posted: Monday, April 29, 2013
Article comment by: We, The People

The Mayor is calling our bluff - let's get a petition together.

Posted: Monday, April 29, 2013
Article comment by: Let The Voters DECIDE

What are the powers afraid of - oh that's right their gravy train, their own little playground, their own little private club - or at least eliminating mingling with the Wal-mart crowd. Oh, I suppose they are also afraid of letting democracy rule.

Posted: Monday, April 29, 2013
Article comment by: Ask Yourself - Could the City Use $2 million?

Are you kidding BJ. The land the golf course sits on is worth a fortune and anyone with a small degree of knowledge of property values knows that. Just do a little estimating - the houses over there sit on, what 1/3 acre. Each 1/3 acre would sell for 50k. The course's land is 11 acres, I believe. Figure 3 acres of roads and waste. That would mean the land would fetch $1.2 mil. The city could easily get at the very least $600,000. If you factored in the $1.3 annual expense to us citizens, the city would realize almost $2,000,000 immediately upon the sale.

Mayor, Council members move to put it on the ballot. Richard Anderson, why so quite on this issue.

Posted: Monday, April 29, 2013
Article comment by: Sell Golf Course

Sell the course. I'm certain big developers would kill to have that land which they could turn into expensive homes. I have to chuckle when the golf supporters all rave how much it helps our town but when asked to produce actual numbers they can't. Like Gary Watson told the fair board - no money until you show us the numbers.

Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

@ Herb Commonsense
Bravo.....good name btw. A round of golf can be played for the price of 2 fast food meals. Not sure if they rent clubs, but you could get all you need at a thrift store for $25 or so. Which option would be better for food or 3 hours of mild exercise?

To all the others...the staff doesn't mind (apparently) if you walk the paths as long as you are respectful of the paying customers. At least I've never been questioned.

Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013
Article comment by: Herb Commonsense

Maybe all parks should be fee areas? The golf course is 1 of the 15 City of Kingman Parks and Recreation facilities. Are our city fathers suggesting that all parks must be profitable or get axed? Also consider that many of us seniors can't run anymore so baseball, soccer, and tennis facilities are useless to us. Golf does work well for seniors and unlike others in this community, the golfers are willing to pay to use this City of Kingman Park's facility.

Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013
Article comment by: gun owner 000

I think it's a huge liability. Most people I know in Kingman don't have the money or the resources to go play a round of golf. And very few people are going to drive 200 miles for the privilege.

Why not start a "Cross-Country Golf League"?
Instead of chasing a ball around on somebody's carefully groomed lawn, and having to pay for the privilege, Just tee-up and smack the ball out into the desert....I'm sure you'll find a hole of some kind out there to lose the ball in.

Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013
Article comment by: A Serious Issue

"voters approved funding the golf course and it will be voters who decide what to do with it in the face of a looming budget crisis. "It's not our golf course to sell," said Salem."

What's left to question? It was approved in hopes that it wouldn't become a liability, BIG FAILURE. Sorry Mayor, but it's time to get it back on the ballot and let those who approved it, get rid of it. I have a feeling it's only going to get worse for the Kingman residents forcing another tax hike in the future.

Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013
Article comment by: Scott Farcus

I like the golf course. I like the area. I like that Kingman offers something for us to do that is relatively inexpensive. Something where I can get some exercise, and enjoy our great weather.
Why don't all of you try it? If you can't afford it, just stroll through the neighborhood. Take advantage of what we have.

Posted: Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Article comment by: Bobby Jones

There is no private interest in this golf course. Golf courses in Las Vegas went back to the desert during the Bush Recession. No private entity would want this golf course as there is no profit in it. The water would be truly charged as an expense in a private situation. You cannot sell this course or it will be a bigger loss than the J.C.Penney building. You could have it go back to native desert as an walking parkland, it would be more cost effective in that case, and more people could use it.

Posted: Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Article comment by: Duffer Dave

If the golf course operates well into the black, then the city should keep it. If it is marginally in the black or in the red.....sell it.

I just wonder what private company would buy it? Maybe one of the bigger hotels in Laughlin would be interested?

Posted: Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Article comment by: Jake Lawson

Sexy picture!

Posted: Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Article comment by: Warren AO

'[P]roponents claim the course contributes to the Kingman economy whenever tournaments are held.

'People buy gas and food, and sometimes they rent motel rooms.'

I'd be interested in seeing the numbers to back that up, particularly numbers that show the golf course contributes *at least* $1.3mln per year to the local economy. That's what it costs. If it can't break even, dump it.

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