Lemoore City Council 5-0 vote approves optimistic budget as revenue projections improve

By Ed Martin, Editor
Lemoore City Council Chambers
Lemoore City Council Chambers

There were signs of optimism as the Lemoore City Council approved its 2021-22 budget Tuesday night on a 5-0 vote. The positive forecast stems from the realization that the coming year may not be as bad as last year, when city officials were forced to cut jobs and programs, partly due to  COVID-19.

And according to state health officials, the Coronavirus threat appears to be lessening as Californians get their vaccinations and businesses begin to fully open their doors to restaurants, business, and golf courses.

For starters, sales tax revenue – a big chunk of the city’s annual budget – is much stronger than expected and city officials are predicting tax revenues at $2.6 million, which beats the $1.8 million projected by city officials in the last fiscal year.

The fiscal 2022 budget proposal cites revenues of $13,891,217, an increase of $1,495.601 over the fiscal year 2021 predictions.

The 2022 budget also proposes expenditures of $14,985,169, an increase of nearly $2.7 million over the fiscal year 2021 projections. To sum it up, city officials indicate that COVID-19 did not impact Lemoore as significantly as predicted. Increased revenues and decreased expenditures in 2021 helped to balance the city’s budget.

City officials told the public that the Lemoore Golf Course is getting new management in the form of Sierra Management, the firm city officials recommend the city council approve. According to Lemoore City Manager Nathan Olson, five companies submitted proposals designed to manage the city’s 30-year-old golf course.

“We’re looking to outsource the golf course in its entirety,” said Olson. Five companies submitted management proposals and four presented projects, he said.  Three qualified applicants were evaluated by a quartet that included two members of the public and a pair of staff members. Olson interviewed the top two applicants.

“We’re looking to outsource the golf course in its entirety so basically we will receive payments annually. The lease is for 15 years starting July 1.

Lemoore’s golf course is approximately $700,000 in debt. Olson said the golf course usually breaks even, loses money sometimes, and sometimes makes a little. “It has not sustained itself the way we’ve been running it,” said Olson.

Approval of the lease means Sierra Golf will begin a 15-year lease on the golf course starting July 1. The company will also make capital improvements to the 30-year-old, 18-hole course. It was formally a nine-hole course that was redesigned to 18 holes in the early 1990s.

Sierra Management plans to shut it down for a period of time while it upgrades and converts greens and redo all 20 sand bunkers with bright white sand. City officials say the course will most likely reopen on Labor Day.

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