WASHINGTON CITY – A handful of residents addressed the City Council Wednesday concerning the potential transfer of money from the city’s sewer fund to cover a $2.7 million deficit attached to the Green Spring Golf Course.
Built in 1987, the city-owned and operated Green Spring Golf Course, located at 588 W. Green Spring Drive, has run a deficit for many years, with money covering the negative cost taken from other city funds.
“The negative cash flow was noted each year in the annual audit and under the previous accounting rules,” Mayor Ken Neilson said as he read from a prepared report. “Loans from other city funds were allowed and granted to cover this shortfall.”
The Utah Legislature changed accounting and reporting requirements for government entities in 2014 in an effort to produce more transparency. This has led to the city needing to address negative balances and cash flows, as well as take public input on the matter.
In the past few years, the city’s sewer fund has accrued a positive balance of around $4.7 million. As such, a potential transfer of the money from that fund to the Green Spring Golf Course is considered an option.
Any transfer isn’t expected to raise sewer fund fees for residents, Neilson said, adding that the future sale of city property could be earmarked for the purpose of paying back the sewer fund over the next five-to-ten years.
As the public hearing progressed, the majority of those who approached the City Council spoke against the potential fund transfer.
“I don’t see any resolution for the golf course,” one city resident said, adding it’s just prolonging the golf course’s slow death. “I think you’re just throwing money in the air,” he said.
A common theme among the residents who spoke to the council was the idea that the city was taking money taxpayers paid for a particular purpose – that wasn’t supporting the Green Spring Golf Course. Some compared the potential action to stealing from the taxpayers and called it “immoral.”
“You shouldn’t take funds from others in the community to benefit others,” resident Dennis Iverson said, saying keeping the golf course going only benefited golfers and not the citizens.
Others argued the golf course should be self-sustaining, and that if it wasn’t, the city should get rid of it.
Councilmen Jeff Turek and Thad Seegmiller both said the city has considered the possibility of selling the golf course, as well as privatizing it.
One measure that has been implemented is cutting back on full and part-time staff, as salaries and retirement make up a big part of the operational cost, Seegmiller said.
The City Council didn’t take any action on the proposed funds transfer Wednesday, though will decide on a possible course of action at a future council meeting.
The council will continue to look at possible options concerning the future of the Green Spring Golf Course, council members said.
A public hearing was held on the city’s tentative 2015-16 budget. The budget general fund is estimated to be $14.2 million with an overall fund of $52.5 million.
Though the public hearing concluded Wednesday, City Manager Roger Carter said the City Council is still taking public input up until June 10. A PDF copy of the city budget can be found on the Washington City website. A hard copy is also available at the Washington County Library at 220 N. 300 East.
A bid for the Warm Springs Detention Basin drainage improvements project was awarded to JP Excavation for $227,000. The project is intended to reduce future flooding of the Main Street area in the event of major rain storms.
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