City takes another swing at golf course talks
The Red Wing City Council wants to nail down more specifics of a Mississippi National Golf Links plan before agreeing to move forward with Red Wing Municipal Golf Corporation.
One of the key details is the city’s financial contribution to the course.
A staff report estimates the city’s portion of operations and capital investments for 2014 at roughly $400,000 and that the city’s ongoing annual operations cost likely wouldn’t dip below $110,000.
Reports indicate capital needs totaling about $2.3 million at the course in the next 10 years, staff said.
RWMGC members said the city’s estimates appear high and some costs could be reduced by using volunteers and other resources from the group.
“We see a lot of numbers that we think could be reduced by the nonprofit being involved,” board member Kent Laugen said.
Council President Lisa Bayley said even if they don’t quite agree on the numbers, “it’s more than zero,” and the city would have an ongoing cost at the course.
Other options, including maintaining the course to open in the future but not next year or closing the course for golf altogether, would still cost the city money, Bayley noted.
Council members said the city should consider capping its contribution should they decide to work with RWMGC.
“I’d like to cap it for two years and see it declining for the last three years,” Council member Dean Hove suggested, referring to the five-year lease proposed by the nonprofit.
Council member Mike Schultz proposed the committee look at a cap of $190,000 from the city and gradually reduce that number.
Other council members were concerned about an annual cost.
“I just don’t see how we have the bandwidth within our yearly budget” to keep paying for MNGL, Council member Ralph Rauterkus said.
“They have very little financial resources to accommodate for anything out of the ordinary,” he added. “Putting a cap on may kind of hinder the results out there as well.”
Council members Peggy Rehder and Rauterkus encouraged the committee to keep open the option of selling the course.
“We shouldn’t just shut the door on that,” Rehder said. “I think there are some more fundamental questions that we really have to talk more about.”
Rauterkus noted the last time the option of selling was considered there were issues such as the previous operator’s bond that have since been resolved.
Rehder said she also would need to know what would have to come out of the budget to accommodate MNGL costs should the council move ahead.
The City Council still has to grapple with the 2014 budget, which staff said would need to be trimmed by about $280,000 to get it down to members’ goal property tax rate increase ceiling.
A budget workshop is planned for 6 p.m. Nov. 4 at the library and the council is expected to set the budget in early December.
Council members still weren’t ready Monday to commit to the RWMGC plan or to reject it. But they agreed they need to make a decision soon.
“Time is of the essence,” Bayley said.
Members voted 6-1 to send the issue back to the ad hoc golf committee to continue negotiations and talks with RWMGC. Rehder voted no.
Hove said members should talk with the group to see if it would even want or be able to meet the council’s parameters, such as the city not co-signing any contracts or leases or a potential contribution cap.
“They may say no to us,” Schultz said.