BURLEY — City leaders are considering putting out a request for proposals for a private entity to lease and manage the city-owned 18-hole River’s Edge Golf Club.

Councilman Randy Hawkins, who also sits on the recreation committee, proposed the idea because the amount of money the city is taking from the general fund to subsidize the course has been on an upward trend for years.

The council voted May 21 to table the issue until its next meeting.

Hawkins, who is an avid golfer, said the problem stems from years of declining revenues at the course rather than increasing expenses.

“The golf course is much like the schools or hospital,” Hawkins said in a Thursday phone interview with the Times-News. “It comes down to a quality of life issue. I believe there is an intrinsic value to the golf course.”

But, he said, as a steward of the city’s coffers he has a responsibility to spend the taxpayer’s money wisely. From 2014 to 2017 the general fund transfer for the golf course grew from $44,304 to $228,662, a 416.12% increase.

Operating revenues in the same period declined from $378,115 to $293,851, while the expenses stayed relatively flat.

In 2018 the city renovated the golf clubhouse kitchen, which brought the city’s golf course costs to $260,000, Hawkins said.

Burley resident Wayne Beck, who has golfed on the course for 20 years, said a big group of his friends moved their play from the Burley course to the Rupert Country Club a few years ago because they could get a less expensive couple’s rate across the river.

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“I’m really happy with the way this course is being operated,” Beck said on Thursday after finishing a game. “The greens have never looked better. I think Scott Draper (the city’s golf pro-employee) is doing the best he can and I’m impressed with how the greens keepers are taking care of the place.”

In 2017 the city switched from a contract with a golf pro where the pro kept a portion of the revenue stream, to making the golf pro a city employee in efforts to reduce the city’s costs.

During the city’s Wednesday business meeting, the major point of contention among the council on the request for proposals document was how much of a deposit or bond the city should require to make sure the city assets are not devalued.

City Attorney Dave Shirley said during the meeting that a cash deposit is the “gold standard” and would be easier for the city to re-coop loses from than a bond.

Hawkins said he fears the originally proposed $300,000 deposit would be prohibitive for people, who might otherwise be interested.

The council discussed asking for a $100,000 to $300,000 deposit or bond with a larger deposit carrying more weight when the council makes a decision.

The proposals will be rated on several factors.

No decisions regarding the amount of the deposit or bond were made.

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