Friday, December 16, 2005

Odessa Bucks the Trend

Many cities in recent years have sold off their municipal golf courses to private course management companies, or to development firms. Others are discussing the possibility - San Antonio, for example, has an ongoing debate about selling off at least a couple of its city-owned tracks.

Odessa has gone the opposite direction. The Odessa city council voted in its most recent meeting to purchase Ratliff Ranch Golf Course and run it as a municipal golf facility. Odessa golfers should be very pleased.

At least once councilman was not. From the Odessa American Statesman:

After a 13-minute executive session and prior to the open session vote, District 3 Councilman Royce Bodiford said he could not approve the purchase.

Bodiford said that although the golf course would enhance the quality of life for many Odessans, he did not think the purchase was fiscally prudent in light of other city needs.

He specifically mentioned rapidly increasing costs, higher fuel bills and more public transportation as city concerns.

"Fiscally prudent" is the key word. What with all the daily fee golf course construction around the state (and the country) during the past 15 years, many cities have a much tougher time these days making money with their muni golf courses. So the question becomes, should the city subsidize its golf course(s) with funds from elsewhere in the budget, or consider dumping its courses?

I suppose most of the people in the city government in Odessa feel the city can make money with Ratliff Ranch. But to do so, they better manage Ratliff Ranch as a daily fee, rather than applying the same ol' muni management tactics used in so many other Texas cities (you know: skimp on personnel, skimp on maintenance, just plain skimp.)

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