SANFORD: City invites proposals for future of golf course

Jul. 23, 2013 @ 04:58 AM

The city of Sanford is considering taking a mulligan on its approach to the operation of its municipal golf course.

After debates and discussion about the course, located on Hawkins Avenue, during recent budget workshops, the city is soliciting input — via a request for information (RFI) — on the future of the Sanford Municipal Golf Course.

No responses have been received yet, City Manager Hal Hegwer said Monday, but he added that there is still time for firms to offer their proposals by the Sept. 3 deadline.

"Our major objective is to see if there were any firms interested in the operations and maintenance of the golf course," Hegwer said. "Then the council will pursue it from there."

The golf course's total expense budget is $702,000 for this fiscal year, which began July 1. The city contributed nearly $49,000 from the general fund, Hegwer said, to subsidize the operation.

"The city is now engaged in a series of policy discussions regarding how best to operate the golf course in the future," the RFI guidelines state. "In an effort to further inform this policymaking effort, the city has prepared this RFI to gain information on the prospective elements of a golf course management or lease contract, and to provide a more accurate sense of the interest of outside entities in entering in a contract management or lease relationship for the Sanford Municipal Golf Course."

Sanford City Council member Charles Taylor encouraged the city to issue a formal request for information (RFI) and said he was interested in seeing what people within the golf management industry would suggest. 

"We have to look at all of our options, and we would be remiss not to," Taylor said. "We owe it to the taxpayers. We need to know how we can do things better, and we may learn something from this — nothing ventured, nothing gained."

Other cities, including Asheville, have been very successful in leasing their golf courses to a management company, Taylor said.

"We went through the budget process and didn't do anything with the golf course," he said. "There are rising costs, and decisions need to be made."

The city's stated goals for the course include:

* Achieve revenue growth for the golf course.

* Contain expenditure growth by incentivizing efficient golf course management and operations.

* Eliminate or reduce future general fund subsidies for the golf course operations.

* Construct needed capital improvements.

* Provide the Sanford community with affordable recreational golfing opportunities.