The purchase of the golf courses, tennis courts, and clubhouse for $1M was a backroom deal with the largest campaign contributor (HSL). The combined actual golf net operating losses from May 2015 to March 2018 are $6.9M. The town council hides these losses by calling the sales tax, golf revenue. A study commissioned by the town council from the National Golf Foundation (NGF) describes Tucson golf capacity 50% over demand and identifies four alternatives. The options are not good, meaning all the alternatives will cost the Town millions of dollars to implement. Instead of reducing the holes of golf, the town council is proceeding to retain 36 holes of golf and invest an additional $6M bond to replace the irrigation system and make building improvements. (Interest on a $6M bond is estimated to be an additional $2.7M). Town out of pocket golf course costs to date and projected into the future are:
Purchase from HSL $1.0M Actual Operating Losses (5/15 - 3/18) $6.9M Actual Capital Improvements $2.7M Proposed Bond $6.0M Proposed Bond Interest $2.7M Total: $19.3M
Adding all the costs for our “Turnkey” Community Center only tells part of the story. Oro Valley has identified additional costs for Community Center repairs, rebuilding tennis courts, replacing court lighting and other enhancements to the building. This will increase Town costs even higher and raises the question: How could this money have been better spent?
A New Direction for Oro Valley
My commitment to Oro Valley is that I will make public historical and current costs you can have confidence in. I will identify options using the NGF study for facts and figures on golf demand, competition and town options. I will work toward a community-based solution that preserves property values, provides the greatest benefit for all residents, and is financially sustainable.
The NGF Study recommended a 27 hole “option B” following months of study by real professionals. After private invitation only meetings the town chose to ignore this option and is proceeding on the most expensive approach. In our public review of golf I will focus on the NGF recommended 27 hole option which will save $500,000 each year from the path the incumbents have chosen, and provide three 9 hole play options which are needed to expose time constrained young families to the game.
The approved $3.8M in new investments in the golf courses will be delayed until a plan forward is presented and supported by the community. I also will recommend the Troon contract not be renewed when the current contract expires in June 2019.