Aztec Municipal Golf Course will remain open
AZTEC — The Aztec Municipal Golf Course will remain open, commissioners decided during a meeting tonight at Aztec City Hall.
The Aztec City Commission voted 4-1 in favor of a contract with local businessman Randy Hodge to operate the golf course. Hodge has had a contract with the city since April to operate the golf course clubhouse.
The decision comes after a workshop earlier this month that addressed five options for the course.
"I think there were really only the two viable options," said Commissioner Sheri Rogers after tonight's meeting.
Commissioners today voted on those two options — contracting with Hodge or closing the course.
Katee McClure was the only commissioner who favored closing the course. After the meeting, she said she did not want to take a gamble with the course and would have rather put resources into things the city already has. But she admitted the agreement with Hodge is less of a gamble because city staff estimate it would cost about $148,000 to close the course, which is more than the $117,000 the city will spend in three years under its contract with Hodge.
"I don’t think, at this time, we can afford another park," she said.
McClure asked the other commissioners during the meeting if they thought the city could afford another park.
"I think if we start asking that question, can we afford to keep the rest of them open," Rogers replied.
McClure said during the meeting that could also be a question to examine.
After the meeting, McClure said she may have voted in favor of the contract with Hodge had it allowed the city to receive a portion of the revenue from the sale of alcohol at the course. The city owns the liquor license for the course, and the contract states Hodge will reimburse the city for the license. Since Hodge began serving alcohol at the course earlier this year, the city has received a portion of the proceeds. But because he will now reimburse the city for the license, Aztec will no longer receive a portion of the revenue.
Rogers and Commissioner Austin Randall said after the meeting that the course offers benefits to the community that do not have a monetary value, such as fundraisers for nonprofits.
During the meeting, Commissioner Sherri Sipe said the course can also be used as an economic development tool.
"When we are trying to encourage people and businesses to come to the community, it’s an amenity that a lot of people look for," she said. "A lot of people look for what there is to do in a community and what there is for their families to do."
After the meeting, Mayor Sally Burbridge said the cost of closing the course and the fact that the city will pay a set amount each year led her to vote in favor of the contract with Hodge.
During the meeting, Malissa McClelland, a local business owner and Aztec resident, criticized the commissioners for not asking enough questions during meetings.
"How we got to the point of the golf course should be a concern for everyone," she said.
Rogers replied that "just because the questions don’t happen in a public forum doesn’t mean they don’t get asked."
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.