Aztec commission reviews options for golf course

Commissioners opposed plans to raise taxes, buy the property or continue operating the course as the city has been for the past two years.

Hannah Grover
The Aztec Municipal Golf Course as seen on Nov. 3, 2015. City commissioners are discussing whether the city should continue operating the golf course.

AZTEC — City commissioners voiced support for two options as they discussed the future of the Aztec Municipal Golf Course this evening.

The commission will vote on which of the two options it prefers during an upcoming city commission meeting. Commissioners agreed to provide their opinions on each of five plans that city staff prepared for the work session after a request from Aztec resident Dale Anderson who wanted a full discussion on the issue.

None of the commissioners supported continuing to operate the course as the city has been for the past two years. Commissioners also rejected the possibilities of raising taxes to pay for the course or buying the property.

Commissioners are considering contracting with local businessman Randy Hodge, who currently runs a snack bar and club house at the course, to take over operations.

“We have a great support in this community for this golf course. It’s been here since 1956," Hodge said.

If commissioners reject the contract with Hodge, the city will likely end its lease agreement with the golf course.

One reason commissioners may choose to contract with Hodge is the cost of breaking a lease-purchase agreement for golf carts with Yamaha. While the property lease was a two-year agreement, the city has a five-year agreement with Yamaha. City staff estimates it could cost nearly $128,000 to get out of the lease-purchase agreement with Yamaha.

Mayor Sally Burbridge said that under the contract with Hodge the city could keep the course running for three years for less money that it would cost to close it.

While commissioners liked the idea of contracting with Hodge, they did not like the ballooning property lease payments in that proposal. The original proposal had the city paying $10,000 to lease the property in 2017 and that payment would increase to $30,000 over the five-year lease. Commissioners discussed renegotiating the lease.

Commissioner Katee McClure said if the city goes with that proposal it will have to be a set amount budgeted each year for the course. She cited the city's budget transfers over the past two years from other funds to keep the golf course running.

She gave the example of a credit card with a $2,000 cap.

"If we’ve got a $2,000 limit, we can’t charge $3,000," she said.

Commissioner Sherri Sipe expressed similar sentiments.

"I think our citizens would benefit from the golf course staying open," she said, adding that it would need to stay within a set budget.

About two dozen Aztec residents who attended the work session expressed support and opposition to the golf course.

Mike Goen, who serves as chief volunteer officer for the Aztec Boys & Girls Club, urged commissioners to keep the course open because nonprofits can raise money by sponsoring tournaments. He said the annual Boys & Girls Club 's tournament raises $10,000 a year.

“How many of your other parks manage to help with these nonprofits?" he asked.

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