Tuesday, November 14, 2023

8 years and $22.3 million later, Municipal Golf seems to be on a stable course

It's been a long, long time
Oro Valley Municipal Golf may finally be in a place where it is a viable enterprise. It has taken eight years and more than $22 million in spending. That’s the story that the numbers tell us. The numbers to which we refer are from the town staff’s quarterly report to the council on town finances. The staff will deliver that report tomorrow night to Town Council. Included amongst the many schedules is Attachment C-3, page 1. It is entitled 'Golf Analysis.' It provides a brief financial history of the financial impact of municipal golf. We’ve created a chart [panel right below] which tells the story: operating losses in the earlier years and heavy investment in the most recent years

It's been an interesting Ride
Heavy operating losses compelled the Winfield Council take action to stem the bleeding
Municipal golf was facing tremendous financial losses when the Winfield Council took over in fiscal 2019. The previous council had no idea what to do. There were calls from some to close down the golf courses. The Winfield Council held several neighborhood meetings and council hearings to determine the community's preferences. Clearly, those who live and use the golf courses (The Green Shirts) wanted them to remain open. Recognizing the tremendous negative impact that closure would have on them, Winfield chose to frame the discussion in terms of a target subsidy level: Municipal Golf could continue to operate as long as it did not cost the town more than $750,000 a year,

The following year, 2020, the Town hired Indigo Golf to manage golf course operations.  Losses decreased within a year to such a level that they were below $750,000. Indeed for the last two fiscal years municipal golf earned an operating profit.

Recent Years' Spending Driven by replacing irrigation 
The operating losses were so significant in the early years that the Hiremath Council could not meet its commitment to invest substantial money to replace golf course irrigation. Seeing an opening of cheap interest rates, Winfield and his council elected to spend that money once they saw the operating losses abated. They have poured $10million into the courses in the past few years.  This was a huge investment.

Was it worth it?  You be the judge 
Was it worth $22.3 million? Was it worth incurring a 1/2%sales tax, enacted by the Hiremath Council, to pay for this? Plus money from a 2022 $25 million Parks and Recreation Bond?

It really doesn’t matter. “In for penny.. in for a pound.” 

There’s no turning back. But, hopefully, the future will see this eight year drain on Oro Valley financial resources on a stable footing.
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