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City distorts golf course finances
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Please print all the facts when you write a story about the golf course. I understand that your story in Saturday’s paper was based on information you received from city hall but when you don’t have all the information the result is a story about the golf course which incorrectly portrays it to be a vast financial drain on our city general fund. And like much information which has been printed in the newspaper over the past 33 years in which I have been the golf professional, it presents a false impression of the golf facility.

Now here’s a few facts which should have been included in the story:

1. The City Council appointed Golf Operation Review Committee which did a 15-week study along with city staff, spent a considerable amount of time discussing interdepartmental charges which the golf fund was required to pay the city general fund for support services, which for example was for the time spent by the city finance department on golf business. When the study was done in 1997, the committee felt the $20,000 being paid to the general fund was fair but advised against the proposed increase to $30,000 annually. Well in later years the golf fund was being charged $230,000 annually, a ridiculously unfair amount of money for services the golf course never received. This was the maximum the city could charge legally to the golf course as it is an enterprise operation, and money was earmarked for every department in the city. The only problem was that the golf course operation was not generating enough revenue annually to pay this to the city. So, when the city subsidized the golf course to balance the golf budget, it was subsidizing these unfair interdepartmental fees. These charges were suspended recently by our past city manager and council as they must have also felt this practice was not right. Now it would take some research to figure out how much of these unfair charges are a part of the stated $1.3 million the golf course owes the general fund, but it would sure be nice to find out.

2. Rather than increasing fees for seniors and charging any fees for our six high school golf teams, past city council’s felt that subsidizing those categories to the tune of $155,000 annually was fair since the Parks and Recreation Department was receiving some $3 million annually from the city general fund. Now the city council could have changed this policy at any time but it would have resulted in much higher fees for seniors and for our high schools. This was always a council decision to subsidize and not to loan.

3. The statement in your story “the outlook is clouded by the fact the golf course is aging and is reaching the end of its useful life” (which was taken from the city’s budget document) is false. The capital improvement list provided to you is not accurate. For example, the irrigation system is in good condition and does not have to be replaced to the tune of $1.2 million. Reconstructing cart paths are not necessary but the completion of phase 4 is. Clubhouse restroom floor replacement is not necessary as it was restored years ago and parking lot expansion is not necessary, etc, etc, etc. But please don’t take my word for these facts, just ask Joe Volk the golf course superintendent employed by the city. And please read closely the report being done by Economic Research Associates coming in the near future.

The golf course is finally going to be in a position to have the ability to purchase necessary equipment, complete some necessary projects, and pay the general fund legitimate interdepartmental charges, and never have to receive a dime from the general fund again. The golf course is a great asset to this community as the thousands of annual rounds played by seniors, juniors, and adults proves, but if the golf fund is required to pay huge amounts of money back to the city for a so-called loan. I don’t think the figure looks too bright for the course.

I am looking forward to our city receiving the report being done by the firm Economic Research Associates as I am confident it will prove to all that we have a quality golf operation, both physically and financially. Everyone needs to be educated as to the facts and myths of the Manteca Park Golf Course.