SANFORD: Council contemplates future of golf course, rejects COLA increases

Jun. 06, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

Continuing its recessed meeting from Tuesday night, Sanford City Council discussed the future of the municipal golf course and a cost-of-living pay increase for city employees Wednesday.

Council solicited input — via a request for information (RFI) — concerning the future of the Sanford Municipal Golf Course, including possibly leasing it to a third party in May. Golf Pro and Manger David Von Canon answered council members’ questions about how the golf course could curb membership loss and increase revenues during the Wednesday meeting at the Sanford Municipal Center.

The golf course will be raising its rates in the coming fiscal year, generating $10,000 in additional revenue, Von Canon said. There is also the possibility of charging the school system for its use of the course, he said, but he was personally against the idea.

Council member Charles Taylor, who requested the RFI, asked Von Canon how can council members justify the golf course under its current structure when some wards have only a handful of golfers participating.

“It’s a historic staple in this town,” Von Canon said. “We are providing a service at a reasonable cost. It is worthwhile to be able to help other organizations, and it’s a place for kids. You have to sell it from your heart.”

Taylor said none of the council members want to get rid of the golf course, but they needed to consider all possible avenues. 

“We do need to look at some options at how creative we can be,” he said. “We’ve got to be accountable.”

Council member Rebecca Wyhof said there are many champions of the golf course and the city should try to channel that support. A renewed focus should be placed on marketing the course to golfers and seeking sponsorships, she said.

Council did not take any action concerning the golf course.

Cost-of-living adjustment for city employees

Council member James “J.D.” Williams asked council to consider using funds already slotted for a proposed skate park for a possible 1 percent cost-of-living adjustment for city employees. Several council members said, that while employees deserve the pay increase, it doesn’t make sense to use a one-time appropriation (COLA) for what will be a recurring cost.

Wyhof said applying the skate park funds, estimated at $100,000, for the COLA would be ill advised.

“That’s counting the chickens before they hatch,” she said. “And I don’t do that in my own budget, and we can’t either.”

Council member L.I. “Poly” Cohen said he’d vote against the budget if a COLA was not included for the employees.

“They deserve it,” he said. “The employees of the city do a great job, and we’ve got to look after them.”

Council member Walter McNeil joined Williams and Cohen in the support for the pay increase, with Council members Samuel Gaskins, Jimmy Haire and Wyhof against it. Taylor left the meeting before the COLA discussion, and Sanford Mayor Cornelia Olive broke the tie, siding against the increase.

The cost to include a 1 percent COLA for all employees is estimated at $150,000. 

In other matters

Council also:

• Rezoned 0.32 of an acre at the intersection of West Raleigh Street and Cameron Drive from Residential-Mixed to Office and Institutional Zoning District.

• Rezoned 0.28 of an acre at the intersection of North Horner Boulevard and Randolph Street from Residential-Mixed to General Commercial Zoning District.

• Voted to assign New Hope Church Inc., which was recently annexed by the city, to Ward 2.