Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Great Golf Boondoggle of Oro Valley

The video that follows was produced by Take Back OV. It discusses the history of how the Town came to own the golf courses, the financial drain they have caused, and some potential changes being considered by the Town to stem these losses.

Sometime this month, the town manager is planning to give her recommendation to the Town Council. That recommendation will be based on the town's $50,000 golf study plus feedback from the town manager’s "invitation only" meetings with approximately 250 golf members and residents who live along the golf courses.

That’s right. There are 43,000 Oro Valley taxpayers being forced to subsidize these golf courses for 250 people; yet, these 43,000 people have NO VOICE at the table. Begin watching at the 7:10 mark to learn how YOU have been kept out of the process.

The video includes maps and photographs, but for those who prefer reading to watching videos, here are some highlights:

In December 2014, when Mayor Hiremath and Councilmembers Hornat, Waters, and Snider voted to purchase 3 golf courses from Humberto Lopez, their largest campaign contributor, the courses were already losing $1.5 million per year.

The facility immediately became a financial drag on Oro Valley. Losses have exceeded $2.5 million for each of the last two years with losses of $2.3 million budgeted for FY 2017/2018.

By June 2017, the Town had already lost $5.7 million in golf and restaurant operations. That’s $200,000 per month. When this budget year ends in June 2018, the total losses are projected to be $8 million dollars.

These excessive losses are FOUR TIMES the original Town forecast, meaning that the increased sales tax isn’t covering the operational expenses much less the required repairs.

Recommendations from the $50,000 National Golf Foundation Study.

Option A: Retain 36 holes on La Canada and reconfigure them. Cost: $5.2 million with continued annual losses of $1.4 million. (This does not address the overcapacity problem.)

Option B: Reduce from 36 to 27 holes (three 9-hole courses). Cost: $4.6 million with $1 million in losses annually. (This does not address the overcapacity problem.)

Option C: Reduce from 36 to 18 holes. Cost: $4.2 million with $1.3 million in annual losses. This reduces the overcapacity to a level supported by members, resort guests, and open daily play.

This option dramatically reduces irrigation requirements, operating costs, and frees up 83 acres of land. The study projects greater losses on the assumption that more members would drop out with only 18 holes available. This assumption is questionable since many members live adjacent to the courses and own their own golf carts.

Option D: Close both La Canada courses and convert it to a park/trail system. Cost: $3 million plus ongoing park maintenance. This is the only option that addresses the generational decline in golfers. It is also the only option that truly benefits the 43,000 residents of Oro Valley.

Pusch Ridge Course: Reconfigure to a 12-hole, Par 3 course. Cost: $3 million. This option was well-received by Humberto Lopez because it benefits the Hilton Resort while the Town bears all the costs.

The current irrigation system is leaking and outdated. Troon, the golf management company, reported that each 18 hole course uses 300,0000 gallons of water per day.

Invitation Only Meetings
Special “invitation only” meetings for golfers and residents living along the golf courses were held by the Town on May 4th, December 12th, and December 13th to get their feedback on how the Town should proceed… spend YOUR tax dollars in order to protect THEIR property values and THEIR desire to play golf. In other words, the Town wants YOUR money but you have NO seat at the table!

Table for 43,000
LOVE suggests that our readers demand a seat at the table. Attend the January 17th town council meeting and be prepared to speak. Or send an email to the mayor and council with your thoughts on what YOU think should be done with the golf courses. What do you think would be in the best interest of the majority of Oro Valley citizens and taxpayers?

Mayor and Council email addresses: