Taxpayers Pay the Tab To Keep Colony West Golf Course in Business

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By: Sharon Aron Baron

A secret special meeting was called in the city of Tamarac that was so special, not even the citizens or media were notified about it. During the city commission meeting the day before, City Manager Michael Cernech never mentioned there would be a meeting the very next day during his four minute announcement.

The meeting involved voting for a new half million dollar, five-year contract for a new management company for Colony West, a golf course the city bought in a short sale in 2011 for $3 million. The golf course had been closed since August because the management walked away saying they couldn’t make a profit.

In late September, Cernech told the commission he was getting proposals and that he would be presenting them at one of the October workshop meetings, but according to the agendas, these proposals were never discussed at a workshop. Instead, they went immediately to a special meeting for review and a vote on the same day.

There was no reason this vote couldn’t have taken place during a regular city commission meeting so that citizens could speak publicly about the millions it could potentially cost them.

You have to take control and ‘manage’ this and not to leave it to ‘lesser’ likes, to put it politely.” – Vice Mayor Harry Dressler on getting a Press Release out immediately after voting for the new management deal.

An evaluation committee headed up by Finance Director Mark Mason, chose Billy Casper Golf out of Vienna, Virginia out of an initial pool of thirty applicants that were narrowed down to three. Mason stated that he had experience from the last several cities that he worked for budgeting for golf courses and making them profitable. However, upon further research, the City of Cape Coral, says otherwise when the current financial services director was quoted in 2011 saying, “My concern is the golf course historically has not made money.”

According to the Sun Sentinel, on November 1st, the new management contract with Billy Casper Golf will be effective to run the golf course, restaurant and pro shop. However, the city has to pay the company over $497,000 to manage the course and $250, 000 for start up costs. The city’s income will come from food, drink and golfing fees.

Some of the expenses that the city (taxpayers) will have to pay for are:

  • $150,000 in upgrades to carpets, bathrooms and possibly the A/C units
  • Fence installation along the course to prevent pedestrians or school children from walking through the courses
  • Bahama shutters on the maintenance unit that they can keep locked
  • Redo the parking lot in the next two years.
  • Landscaping in the front

But wait. Maybe our city can get back some of those profits that come from Colony West and use it towards say…people who don’t golf in this city?

Oh no, that’s not going to happen. The profits will be used for maintenance and improvements for Colony West.

A never ending cycle money pit!

Amazingly, is that the staff could not say what, if any, profit they expected to make from the golf course.

So, the commission voted to award a contract without financial data about the operation of the golf course.

The resolution to award the contract passed unanimously. The city estimated Colony West will reopen January 1, 2014.

Talabisco also stressed that now it was a done deal, it was a good time to get a press release out. Vice Mayor Harry Dressler said, You have to take control and ‘manage’ this and not to leave it to ‘lesser’  likes, to put it politely.”

“Yeah we know,” said Talabisco.

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Sharon Aron Baron is the Editor of Talk Media and writer for Tamarac Talk, Coral Springs Talk and Parkland Talk.

Tamarac Talk was created in 2010 to provide News, Views and Entertainment for the residents of Tamarac.