Is the fate of the Municipal Golf Course headed for the November election ballot?

Lemoore City Staff is recommending to councilmembers that the issue of what to do about the Lemoore Golf Course be taken out of the hands of the Lemoore City Council and instead put into the hands of the citizens of Lemoore to decide the fate of the course.

Staff is recommending that Lemoore residents vote on the future of the Municipal Golf Course, and suggests that an election be held in November.

The Lemoore Golf Course has been at the forefront of council news for months when it was learned that the local Tachi expressed an interest in purchasing the decades-old golf course.

The ballot initiative was only one of several recommendations councilmembers will review at their June 3 meeting. Staff is also recommending that council reject an offer from Lemoore Municipal Golf Pro Rich Rhoads to lease the golf course, and instead renegotiate the lease with Rhoads to release the city from any liability. Council could also hire a new management firm to run the course on a month to month contract basis, or it could create a benefit assessment district in which property owners could pay off the debt to the golf course.

The one recommendation that hasn’t been mentioned in previous public hearings is the possibility of the ballot measure to provide a special tax to pay for the course or selling it to the highest bidder. A ballot measure would need to be approved by city council a minimum of 88 days prior to the November 4, 2014 election and approval would require a two thirds vote in order to pass.

Parks and Recreation Director Joe Simonson will reiterate that council recently asked staff to seek proposals to lease the golf course. “At the close of the RFP (Request for Proposal) period ending May 30, 2014, there was only one company that submitted a proposal to lease the golf course,” stated the Simonson’s memo. “The proposal does not meet the minimum requirements outlined by city council in the RFP.”

The city was seeking someone to lease the course and pay back a $3.5 million dollar debt over a 14-year period as well as create a capital improvement fund to cover any expected and unexpected expenses and maintain normal business and maintenance operations.

In a surprising lease offer from the city, councilmembers suggested that a lease include a $1 million up-front payment as well as monthly payments, which over the course of 30 years add up to about $6 million dollars.

Rhoads said his lease arrangement would pay off the course by 2030, paying $200,000 per year and keep the course in public hands.

The city held a number of public hearings when it was learned that the Tachi Yokut Tribe submitted an offer of $5 million to purchase the golf course. The news came on the heels of stories that Mayor Billy Siegel played golf with a Tachi representative who evaluated the course.

In late December the city unceremoniously informed current manager Rhoads that his contract with the city would be terminated at June 30, 2014, a move that would pave the way for another contract or lease more amenable to the city’s finances.

Comments powered by Disqus