Platte County has been losing money operating the golf course it constructed for the public two decades ago. Now, hoping to increase revenues, the county is considering a partnership with a professional golf company to manage the course.
In its request for proposals, Platte County is also asking for alternative ideas that could include a lease/purchase of the golf course from the county.
Platte County Commissioner Duane Soper said the proposals will give the county the “opportunity to see what options (it has) to run the golf course” and to fund the operating costs.
The 122-acre Shiloh Springs Golf Course is at 14750 Fairway Lane in Platte City.
The county built the 18-hole course, which opened in 1995, as a recreational facility for the public, said Brian Nowotny, director of the Platte County Parks and Recreation Department.
This year, the county has the option of using park sales tax revenue to pay off the remaining $1.3 million debt on the bond money that financed construction of the course. Until the debt is paid off, terms of the bond issue require the county to manage the course with its own employees.
Shiloh Springs hosts two youth programs: a golf summer camp and, for older students, a program offered in partnership with Platte County R-III High School, Nowotny said.
“We love to teach the game of golf to young people,” he said.
The county will require any new management group to maintain the facility as a public course and continue to make it available for the youth programs.
“We feel there is potential for a greater revenue opportunity (at the course),” Nowotny said.
He said Platte County employees have done a good job with the course, but the county is looking for a “bigger operator … who would be interested in including Shiloh in their offerings of courses.”
The county wants any new arrangement to “at a minimum, return sufficient revenue to the county to cover (the) county’s costs to maintain the golf course,” as stated in the request for proposal.
“We have excellent people out there,” Soper said, “(but) government may not always be the best person to run a business.”
In 2011, the course operating expenses were $89,928 more than the revenues, according to the RFP. These losses increased steadily since then and in 2014 through November, the course had lost $128,856.
The total number of rounds played has decreased since the recession, Soper said, partly because several Northland courses “went public” to attract additional business.
“It really comes down to the recession,” he said.
People have had less money to spend on “pleasures,” Soper said, but he believes that situation is improving.
The county’s debt on the course will end in 2018, Nowotny said. The annual payments are about $450,000.
“This financing is tax-exempt, giving the county the best possible interest rate,” he said. “As such, the county is required to manage the golf course with public employees. Once the bonds are paid off, the county has the option to consider management alternatives and new partnerships.”
The county issued its request for proposals Dec. 9. All submissions are due Jan. 23.