Council mulls second round at Cerbat Cliffs Golf Course with Pitts

A scene at Cerbat Cliffs Golf Course Friday.

JC AMBERLYN/Miner<BR> A scene at Cerbat Cliffs Golf Course Friday.

KINGMAN - The City Council voted 6-1 to renegotiate its contract with Cerbat Cliffs Golf Course Manager Levi Pitts at Tuesday's meeting, but not without somewhat heated discussion.

City of Kingman Parks and Recreation Director Mike Meersman offered high praise on behalf of Pitts, telling Mayor Richard Anderson and Council members Pitts kept the course afloat during the recession, maintained and added to the number of tournaments and other events the course hosts each year, made vast improvements to the pro shop and the overall facility - and changed the culture to one that is more golfer friendly.

"The current staff is the best I've ever had," said Meersman. The director was far from the only person to laud Pitts' job performance.

Jim Powell, Kingman's self-proclaimed worst golfer, provided the Council with a petition bearing more than 200 signatures of Pitts supporters. He said Pitts has helped grow the Kingman junior golf program to about 170 members.

Meersman said Pitts met or exceeded every goal set out for him when the Council ratified his first performance-based contract three years ago, and he noted - following a rhetorical question from Councilman Larry Carver - that Pitts has slowed down the financial losses the course has historically operated under over each of the last three years.

Anderson was not satisfied with the information he was provided. "I want to see numbers and not just hear comments," said the mayor. "No numbers kind of leaves me hanging. I'm looking for information that would tilt me toward a decision."

Councilwoman Jen Miles deferred to Meersman, saying it's her experience the people doing the work know best what's going on.

Carver made a motion that the city renegotiates with Pitts, which passed 6-1, with Anderson voting no. A committee consisting of Meersman, City Manager John Dougherty, Finance Director Tina Moline and a Council member will handle the negotiations and bring a plan back to the full Council. Anderson indicated he voted no only because he felt a five-person committee was more appropriate.

Pitts is considered an independent contractor. The contract he signed early in 2012 was valued at more than $450,000 a year, funds that Pitts used to pay for salaries, insurance and other costs of doing business.

In other news, the Council:

• Accepted a $345,250 grant from the Arizona Criminal Justice System to help fund the Mohave Area General Narcotics Enforcement Team. The city had to contribute more than $86,000 in matching funds, with that cost coming out of assets seized from drug dealers.

•Approved a modest reduction in the daily cost to jail defendants arrested by the Kingman Police Department at the Mohave County jail.

• Approved the city participating in a plumbing insurance program ran by Utility Service Partners and endorsed by the national and state League of Cities and Towns.

The program offers insurance to property owners regarding exterior and interior pipes. Residents will receive letters on the city's letterhead. Councilwoman Jen Miles asked that the letter make it clear the program is optional and not mandated. Her request was approved.

• Heard a presentation from D'Arcy Wagner and Angele Florisi, members of the Council's Historical Preservation Commission. The women reported on a conference they attended in May and received kudos from the Council for turning around the once moribund commission.

• Heard a request from local attorney Mark Sippel, who asked Council members to reconsider minimum sizes of building lots so many of the vacant small lots in downtown Kingman can be used to build small homes or businesses.

Anderson directed Dougherty to schedule a meeting.

• Agreed to not have a second regular meeting in August due to a scheduling conflict.

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