The city’s Parks and Recreation director told residents last month that the public golf program borrowed $800,000 from the city’s general fund while promoting itself as self-sustaining. Despite its financial woes, rounds played at Lincoln courses climbed 17.5 percent in the past year.
Lincoln (Neb.) Parks and Recreation Director Lynn Johnson recently announced that the city’s public golf program borrowed $800,000 from the city’s general fund, despite being promoted as self-sustaining, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.
Johnson explained the borrowing by citing a variety of reasons, the Journal Star reported, including: a drop in the amount of play on city courses; debt payments for construction of the Highlands Golf Course in Lincoln; golf fees subsidizing the Jim Ager Memorial Junior Golf Course ($100,000 a year); improvements made to accommodate the Special Olympics, and the economy.
“Golf is about integrity and honesty, and I think we all lost a lot of trust in the city golf program recently,” Jack Crandall, head of the Lincoln Municipal Golfers Association, said at a meeting last week.
Johnson did not comment on the elimination of Steve Hiller’s job as golf administrator with its salary of $106,000 a year, the suspension of golf manager Dale Hardy, and the investigation and outside audit of the golf program by the Lincoln police, as ordered by Mayor Chris Beutler last week, the Journal Star reported.
The debt retirement plan should be done in three years and will use an increase in fees, reduction of administration costs and $70,000 in cell phone tower leases to do so. That should lead to $265,000 paid to the debt this year and $395,000 next year.
Despite financial woes, rounds played at city courses were up 17.5 percent during the last year and revenue climbed 22.4 percent, putting an estimated number of rounds this year (through the end of August) at 200,000, compared to 171,000 last year, the Journal Star reported.
The golf committee will be reformatted to be more active and involved in decisions and the program will pay for a sustainability study to try to help the program regain strength. Other options include turning one of the four courses into three six-hole courses for faster, cheaper play; changing Highlands GC into a premium, links-style course; and establishing adult leagues to play at the Ager Junior Course, the Journal Star reported.about