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Golf play adds green to Manteca economy

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POSTED March 15, 2017 12:46 a.m.

The Manteca golf course may not be a profit center per se but it adds a lot of green to the Manteca economy.
Consider the following:
uThere are 107 tournaments a year that benefit non-profits and schools. Just one of those tournaments — The Jim Brown Memorial Golf Tournament — raises S12,000 for the Friends of Manteca Parks & Recreation to provide scholarships so low income youth can participate in recreation programs.
uThe golf pro employs three fulltime and 13 part-time employees.
uThe city, from its 90 percent share of green fees, pays for four full-time golf maintenance employees, a part-time mechanic and six part-time workers at $14.10 an hour.
uOut-of-town players spend money in Manteca.
uChez Shari employs people who — like the other golf course workers — pay taxes and spend money in Manteca. Chez Shari also pays $61,176 per year in rent for the second floor and snack bar.
As for the $155,000 the city “subsidizes” senior and youth play with, more than a few people believe the Manteca City Council should stop characterizing it as such.
If the 101-acre golf course is viewed as a park for structured play much like Woodward Park, the Northgate Park softball complex, and the Lincoln Park swimming pool the $155,000 is more than reasonable.
The city charges fees for use of all of those facilities but at the end of the day it covers just the operation of specific programs and not the complete overall maintenance of the actual facilities.
Instead of “subsidizing green fees” that means the $155,000 is subject to a 90-10 split with the golf pro getting 10 percent, the City Council should just clear the political mess up and say it is a set amount to go toward basic city maintenance expenses at the course and simply require any future golf pro or operator to provide green fee discounts for seniors and junior players.
As far as the “senior subsidy’ goes, there are an average of 150 senior players each month forking over $70 for the monthly pass that comes to $126,000 per year. That said seniors must pay the standard green fees if they want to play on Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays. Seniors also pay for carts and the use of the driving range.
Six high school teams use the course at a cost of $750 each or $4,500 a year. Junior players are charged $12 to play the course.
During the summer city recreation programs generate $8,520 for those opting for golf lessons at $60.
Then there is the fact the city actually owns the course and clubhouse debt free.
The last annual payment of $205,000 was made in 2011 on the lease-purchase arrangement to build the golf clubhouse in the early 1990s.
The final payment on the 25-year loan in 1978 to convert the old wastewater treatment plant to expand the golf course from 9 to 18 holes and build the tennis courts was made in 2013. The golf course’s share of that obligation was $52,000 a year.
Now for the biggie — the designation of the golf course as an enterprise fund meaning ratepayers or the golfers are supposed to cover all the expenses of operation and maintenance. That has never happened.
Political hell over the years has been raised because it did not function as cleanly as enterprise funds for solid waste, water, and wastewater. While state law prohibits enterprise accounts from subsidizing the general fund or other ventures, nothing has prevented the general fund from doing the reverse. The golf course is the only “enterprise account” that has tapped general fund money.
By dropping pretense that it is an enterprise fund and make it a separate functioning part of the Parks & Recreation budget much like the city-owned Big League Dreams sports complex that is not set up as an enterprise fund despite the fact essentially functions that way and its operations and maintenance are contracted out to the private sector.
Shedding the enterprise fund designation also frees the golf course from another political football — the controversial cost recovery charge slapped onto enterprise accounts and special accounts where basically administrative overhead is charged.
The golf course pays for water, sewer and solid waste. Up until 2007 when the cost recovery charge was suspended the golf course paid for administrative overhead for work connected with the course such as the city manager’s office, parks administration, and finance department.
By making the golf course part of the general fund like the Big League Dreams sports complex it frees it from the cost recovery charge or accusations the course is not paying what it owes by suspending the charge.
It is clear that regardless of what the council does with the golf pro position, it needs to look at the value of the course and get rid of political baggage accumulated over the years based on promises and pronouncements made by previous councils that the course hasn’t lived up to.
To remind folks, that was the $1.4 million infusion into the golf course during the 1990s and early 2000s in addition to cost recovery charges and the $155,000 “subsidy.”

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email dwyatt@mantecbulletin.com

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