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Opinion
Sarasota Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020 2 months ago

Another tee shot goes 'OB'

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Taxpayers are expected to subsidize the Bobby Jones Golf Club in the current fiscal year.
by: Matt Walsh Editor & CEO

Do the math: $860,000 + $575,859 = $1,435,859.

According to City Commissioner Hagen Brody, taxpayers are expected to subsidize the Bobby Jones Golf Club at a cost of $860,000 in the current fiscal year.

But as of Tuesday’s City Commission meeting, now that the commission has adopted a new maintenance contract for the golf courses, that subsidy will increase $575,859, totaling a subsidy of $1,435,859.

That is, city officials said, if the courses are unable to increase its revenues.

This is the hacker golfer who hits every drive “OB” — out of bounds.

Let’s summarize:

The 45-hole complex has been a perennial money loser and is deteriorating.

Over the past several years, the company maintaining the courses has cut services. Sue Martin of the city’s parks and recreation department said the company quit maintaining the trees. So instead of paying it $1.4 million, the city reduced its maintenance costs to $1.3 million in 2019.

But now the city has entered a five-year contract with a new and better maintenance company. And that’s going to cost a lot more — $1,820,929 in the first year, an increase of $575,859.

City Manager Tom Barwin told commissioners this is “part of a process of having high-quality golf. It will give us a real edge when it reopens.”

Look at it this way: It’s similar to a business turnaround. To make a money-losing business a profitable business, owners often invest in new equipment and better people. The bet is that investment will pay off in future profits.

But this is what many Sarasota taxpayers are having a difficult time understanding: Why continue to invest (taxpayers’ money) when you know the end product is still going to lose money?

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