Kingman golf course sale meets resistance

KINGMAN - Selling the golf course at least at this time may not be an option, according to City Council. Council discussed the idea and a number of other cost-cutting suggestions from a February town hall meeting at Tuesday evening's meeting.

"I think this is a very wrong thing to do, to try and sell the golf course in a down economy," said Councilman Keith Walker. "I think we really need to look at raising our fees a little bit to offset the deficit we're running."

A private industry would probably buy it at a low price and then double or triple the golf rates, he said.

According to City Financial Services Director Coral Loyd the city's deficit for running Cerbat Cliffs Golf Course is about $200,000.

City Manager Jack Kramer said staff was already looking at how much the city would have to raise the fees for the next city budget session. Because there were so many different fees - youth fees, adult fees, resident fees, outside visitor fees, etc. - he recommended sending the issue to the City Golf Course Commission for consideration before having Council look at it. The Golf Course Commission met Wednesday.

"This is one of the areas where we're getting a lot of flack. It's one of the areas we really need to look at," said Councilwoman Robin Gordon.

She recognized that the course plays a vital role in attracting tourists, professionals and others to the community. However, she still felt that something needed to be done about the deficit.

"In the past I think it was acceptable for the city to subsidize the operation of the golf course because times were good and we had the money. Times are not good, and we don't have the money. It's just not something that I think we can justify any longer," Gordon said.

Councilman Richard Anderson pointed out that the Golf Commission has worked hard on improving the course. He warned that if the city turned over control of the golf course to someone else, it might lose an incredible youth golf program. He suggested looking at cutting expenses that were not necessary to the play of the game and taking a second look at the contract to run the course.

Councilwoman Janet Watson said she had toured the golf course on Friday. She found it in tremendous shape, and the course was packed with players. She pointed out that the City Parks and Recreation Department managed to get a senior women's golf tournament to play at CCGC this fall. It was tournament that was courted by both Lake Havasu and Bullhead cities.

"This is not the time to sell the golf course. I'm not saying that it shouldn't be done, but this is not the time because of the economy," said Councilwoman Carole Young. She too recognized the role that the course plays in the community, especially in recruiting doctors to the area. She also suggested looking at the management contract.

"Do we have to have a golf pro manage that?" Young asked.

Loyd reminded Council the contract for the course would be up in June.

Councilwoman Erin Cochran also thought that selling the course was a bad idea.

"It, in theory, fixes the budget for this year, but what about next year?" She asked.

Mayor John Salem said he received several comments on the possibility of selling the course, including one from his father, who pointed out that a lot of business deals are made on golf courses.

Salem and Watson pointed out the city was still paying on the bond issue that installed the last nine holes of the course and because of the bond payments, the city wouldn't be able to sell it in the next two budget cycles. He also wasn't sure the city could sell the course without putting it to a vote of the residents. The course also provides a number of benefits the community, including the sale of golf equipment at local stores, he said.

"I think the list of pros far outweigh the cons," Salem said. "The fact is this is one of the most beautiful golf courses in the state of Arizona. It's an asset to this community. I think unloading it would be a serious mistake."

No decision was made on the fate of the golf course.