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Manteca golf leads way in play
Fares better than 14 other courses within 25 miles
The Manteca golf course clubhouse will be paid off this year. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Privatization of the Manteca municipal golf course maintenance won’t reduce city costs significantly.

The Manteca course – while losing play like other courses in the Northern San Joaquin Valley – has been tops among rounds played for three straight years among 14 golf courses.

Those are of a number of conclusions reached by Economic Research Associates who were hired by the City Council to evaluate golf course operations. Manteca’s elected leaders are working to arm themselves with “independent” assessments so that when the current contract with golf pro Alan Thomas expires in 2012 they can decide what the best direction will be for the city to take.

The year 2013 is when the golf course will be free of debt payments.

This year is when the final $225,000 debt payment on the 1994 capital lease with Maryland Trust Co., that financed the current golf course clubhouse will be made.

The final payment on the 1978 project that cost $800,000 to add the second nine holes, built the tennis courts and expanded 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 ERA report notes that “privatization of the golf course, maintenance function often results in cost savings. However, in the case of Manteca Park, given the recent salary concessions by city employees, and the value of capital improvement work performed by the city maintenance staff, potential savings from privation is reduced substantially.”

ERA consultant Gene Krekorian concluded that the city’s contract with Thomas and the revenues received by both parties based on the existing contract “are well in line” with other agreements between cities among those operating municipal golf courses.

Thomas has expressed interest in extending the contract before making significant capital investments.

Other highlights of the golf course report:

•More rounds were played at Manteca in each of the last three years than another courses in a 25-mile` radius. Manteca had 68,000 rounds last year or 8,000 more than the closest of the 11 golf courses that the study compare.

•The course provides a quality golf experience at a very affordable price.

•The complex has benefitted from a continuous capital improvement program and construction of a new clubhouse in 1989. As a result, anticipated capital improvements over the foreseeable future are modest and manageable.

•Cart, range, merchandise, as well as food and beverage revenues – given the play levels and positioning of the course based on rates– are at or are well above average.

•The annual maintenance budget including clubhouse repairs and supplies for the 2008-09 fiscal year was $962,500 or almost $100,000 below the approved budget.

•The course had a net operating cash flow of $294,900 before a $155,000 Parks and Recreation subsidy from the general fund is factored into the equation.

•The number of courses within a 25-mie radius has gone from five in 1990 to 14 today.

•Play at Manteca has fallen only 10 percent compared to the average of 20 percent at other golf courses due to its rate pricing structure.

•Short- and mid-range capital improvements that are needed are expected to cost $545,000 in 2009 dollars. They cover improvements to cart paths, the lakes, parking, driving range, on-course restrooms, clubhouse improvements, irrigation system course features, and course improvements along Crom Street.

•It would be prudent to build in a $50,000 to $75,000 capital improvement reserve today for the improvements.

The elimination of debt in 2013 means the golf course won’t be operating at a loss if revenues and expenses remain unchanged from last year’s levels.

That is being factored into a number of difference scenarios involving possible adjustments to rates.

The City Council will review the consultant’s study when they meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. ate Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail