Commission looks at future of the golf course

Aztec City Commission is considering three options for the municipal golf course including not renewing its lease, contracting with an operator or continuing operating the course.

Hannah Grover
A pair plays golf on Friday at the Aztec Municipal Golf Course.

AZTEC — Aztec City Commissioners said there was not enough information presented for them to make an informed decision about whether to continue operating the municipal golf course during a special meeting tonight.

The commissioners voted to table the discussion because they had not been provided details about the cost to the city if it closed the course and because the city's attorney had not reviewed an operations agreement presented to commissioners during the meeting. The city commission will revisit the issue at its first December meeting.

"I have a really hard time making an educated decision with just one choice," said Commissioner Katee McClure during the meeting.

The city staff only presented information about a new operations agreement. The agreement involved a contract with Randy Hodge, who currently runs a restaurant at the course. Hodge would be responsible for all the operations and receive the revenue. The city would continue to be responsible for the property lease and cart leases. The cart lease is $24,000 annually and the property lease is also $24,000 annually.

At the end of the meeting, commissioners highlighted three possible options for the future of the course — not renewing the lease, contracting with Hodge or continuing operating the course as it has for the past two years.

The city took over management of the golf course in 2014 after the owners announced they were closing the course. During the first year that the city operated the course, it had to transfer $95,000 to the golf course for operations. During the meeting, city finance director Kathy Lamb said the city has budgeted a $50,000 transfer to the course at the end of this year.

Golfers enjoy a sunny fall day on Friday at the Aztec Municipal Golf Course.

McClure has been a vocal opponent of the golf course and cited declining gross receipt tax revenue as a reason to not continue operating the course after the current lease expires in three months. If the city opts to continue operating the course, it will enter a five-year lease agreement with the property owners.

Commissioner Sherri Sipe also favored tabling the discussion until more information was available.

"I would feel more comfortable if (city attorney Larry Thrower) had looked at this," she said about the proposed agreement with Hodge.

Thrower told the commission that he had received the contract on Nov. 9, but had not had the opportunity to review it.

While she supported tabling the discussion, Sipe said the golf course is an asset to the city. She said she would like to discuss annexing the land so that the city can receive gross receipts tax revenue from the course.

"I continually hear from lots people who want to see it remain open," Sipe said.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

Golfers enjoy a sunny fall day on Friday at the Aztec Municipal Golf Course.