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City scratching $225,000 annual golf course debt via final payment for clubhouse
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Manteca’s two-story golf course clubhouse has been called a lot of things over the years.

Some called it the Taj Mahal.

Others said it elevated the municipal golf course to country club status but without the restrictions.

Critics in the political arena called it a colossal waste of money.

Two restaurant tenants that milked the city for tens of thousands of dollars called it a cash cow before Frank Guinta took it over and not only kept promises and stopped the city’s financial bleeding but built a solid reputation at preparing and selling food as well as catering events at a fair price with great service.

And after June 30 you can call it something else - paid for in full.

The final debt payment of $225,000 on the 1994 capital lease with Maryland National Trust is due in 12 days. Once the warrant is issued Manteca will own the $2.2 million clubhouse outright.

That leaves just one long term debt besides money the enterprise account owes the general fund.

The final payment on the 1978 project that cost $800,000 to add the second nine holes, build the tennis courts and expand the parking lot will be made in 2013. That yearly debt payment is $52,000 with 20 percent of that amount being paid by the parks fee account.

The two debt payments represent 22 percent of the golf course’s annual budget that is set up as an enterprise fund where users through the payment of green fees plus lease payments from the golf pro and food cession contracts fund the operation.

The elimination of $225,000 will mean starting July 1 that the golf course revenues from green fees and food service lease payments are anticipated to meet all operating expenses exclusive of major capital projects, according to the municipal budget message penned by City Manager Steve Pinkerton.

Manteca’s course – which still ranks as the highest-used municipal course in the Northern San Joaquin Valley – has also been dealt the challenge of decreased disposable income. Pinkerton noted, though, that the decline appears to be stabilizing.

His budget report also notes the revenues continue to fall short of meeting five-year projections.

According to the municipal budget, the general fund subsidizes the golf course operations in three ways:

•General administration and overhead charges were suspended in the 2007-08 fiscal year. The recommendation is to continue that practice for the 2010-11 fiscal year.

•On average in the past, $140,000 has been loaned to the golf fund to met cash flow obligations. The total cumulative amount shifted from the general fund as of June 30, 2009 is $1.3 million. It is not clear if and when the golf course will pay this amount back to the general fund.

•A $155,000 contribution from the general fund equal to the recreation benefits the golf course provides to Manteca citizens is made each year. The proposed budget for next fiscal year includes a $155,000 contribution.

The city is now negotiating with golf pro Alan Thomas on contract changes that is expected to go before the council in late July. The negotiations are based on data and conclusions reached by Economic Research Associates hired by the city to perform an evaluation of the golf course operations.

The preliminary budget will be discussed during a special meeting on Tuesday, June 22, at 3 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.