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Palm Coast Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016 5 years ago

No more KemperSports? City considers ditching management company at Palm Harbor Golf Course, tennis center

The city could lease out the properties, or have its own staff manage them.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

The city's money-losing Palm Harbor Golf Course and tennis center may not remain under the management of KemperSports, despite a contingent of devoted Kemper fans.

"Paying a management company to run (the golf course) and lose money seems like the worst of all possible options," City Councilman Jason DeLorenzon after a presentation on the properties during a Feb. 23 City Council workshop.

Even if it's not possible to run the course for a profit, he said, the city might be able to lease it out or have city staff run it for less than the city pays Kemper.

The city, which owns the KemperSports-managed golf course and tennis center and has been covering the cost of their deficits for years, has been considering those options, City Manager Jim Landon told council members. 

It could also convert the 18-hole course to nine-hole course and rezone the remaining space so it can be used for something else, Mayor Jon Netts said. "There are lots of options open to us," Netts said. 

As things are, said Landon, the city has not renewed its contract with KemperSports, and is instead going month-to-month.

"If we’re already month to month," DeLorenzo replied, "I don’t see why we shouldn’t start the procurement process sooner, rather than later."

Landon said that if the golf course were to be leased out, the tennis center could be as well, and not neccessarily to the same management company. 

Landon told council members than when he began working for the city in 2007, the city was trying to open a municipal golf course, even considering buying land west of the railroad tracks — valued at $22,680,000 — and creating a new one.

The city decided to try to get the Palm Harbor golf property instead, and succeeded in 2008, Landon said.

At the time, the city believed it could make money on the course, but the calculations were based on the idea that other local courses would privatize, that rounds at the Palm Harbor course would average $64, and that there would be 40,000-plus rounds played there per year. 

"Well, none of that happened," Landon said. 

The course's estimated loss for the 2015-2016 fiscal year is $296,881, according to a KemperSports presentation before the council in January. It was $346,191 in the 2014-2015 fiscal year, up from $315,000 the year before.

Breaking even would require about 5,000 more rounds of golf per year, Palm Harbor Golf Club General Manager Brad Adams told council members during the January presentation.

The tennis center's projected loss for 2015-2016 is $81,000. Its loss for the 2014-2015 fiscal year was $84,951, and its loss for the 2013-2014 year was $98,237, according to the January presentation.

The city makes up those losses with tax dollars, and has placed the golf course and tennis center under the purview of the city's parks and recreation department, with other properties that aren't expected to turn a profit.

The golf course and tennis center, unlike parks and trails, are not free to users and are run by a private company rather than by city staff.

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