Representatives of Spring Hill Golf Course came away from the City Commission of Arkansas City meeting Dec. 20 with far less assistance than they had requested.
The commissioners voted 4-0 to assist the golf course with its December and January bills, excluding costs related to employees, with the understanding that course officials would meet with City Manager Nick Hernandez to discuss their continuing financial obligations.
However, when the golf course initially approached the city, it requested for a total of $11,805.72 to continue operating through the end of February 2017. To finish this month with a positive balance, the golf course needs $479 — “give or take $10,” according to treasurer Dale Kuhn.
To add to the financial woes at Spring Hill, membership has dropped. Commissioner Jay Warren asked why the number had taken a downturn.
Kuhn attributed it to some of the older members choosing not to continue with their memberships, as well as the economy, but claimed both were just guesses. He estimated the course has about 90 members now.
Hernandez suggested the golf course remain closed, with only essential utilities remaining on for the remainder of the cold season, into March.
Warren agreed, saying, “Shut her down until March … when the weather gets better.”
Kuhn said the clubhouse is not opened in the winter months unless the temperature is higher than 45 degrees.
Hernandez asked for the minimum amount of money it would take in order to keep the buildings in good repair, with no employees and with players using the honor box for all non-member activity until March. “I feared you would ask me this question,” Kuhn said.
He said that if the membership dues stayed where they were projected, around $4,800 would be enough financial help to make it until March.
However, if the dues drop off any more, it likely will take $8,000 or more, Kuhn estimated.
“I’m going to ask a question … that maybe no one is willing to say: Are we offering too much golf here in Ark City, in Cowley County, compared to the demand?” asked Commissioner Dan Jurkovich. “If I was to take a good look, sounds like (we are),” Kuhn replied.
“And here’s something else people might not like, helping the 90 members keep the course open and the other 12,000-plus people in Ark City don’t use it,” said Mayor Duane Oestmann. “I think we’d all like to help you. … How do we convince the other people in Ark City that we should?”
An initial motion to fund the course’s bare-minimum requirements, excluding employees and requiring Kuhn to confer with Hernandez about the specific funds needed, failed in a 2-2 vote. Commissioners Jurkovich and Karen Welch both voted against the motion.
“I would go for something else, but here’s why I said no,” Jurkovich explained. “The City Commission of Ark City would be giving all the help so far. But (there would be) nothing from the county or Parkerfield? Nothing from anyone else? Nothing from the Rec Commission?”
“We contacted (the Rec Commission), and they’re on a budget and they can’t do anything until this next year,” Kuhn said.
“We’re on a budget, too,” Hernandez interjected. “The rec center said no. We’ve not been to the college,” Kuhn said.
“That’s why I voted no — for the citizens of Ark City,” Jurkovich said, suggesting a shorter-term solution lasting only through January.
“I concur,” Welch said. Jurkovich made the follow-up motion, which ultimately passed. “You’ve got to get other people helping,” he told Kuhn.
In other business, the commission:
- held a public hearing on the amended 2016 budget and voted unanimously to approve it.
- unanimously approved the January 2017 purchase of an outdoor warning siren that includes a 24-month warranty and battery backup.
- voted unanimously to adopt by reference the 2015 International Code Cycle and 2014 National Electrical Code as the technical codes of the city, amending those technical codes and modifying Arkansas City Municipal Code to so reflect.
- heard updates from Hernandez on the 2017 mayoral transition and the Summit Street construction project.
- held a 15-minute executive session to discuss matters of non-elected personnel and subsequently voted 4-0 to amend Hernandez’s contract.
Commissioner Charles Tweedy III was absent from the meeting.
Although they were scheduled to appear before the commission, representatives from South Central Kansas Medical Center also were absent.