The city has a new long-term deal to fund the Nine Springs golf course -- and it's coming at the expense of one of the few staff additions the city had planned for this year.
Nine Springs manager Dan Larsen and the city have agreed on a new contract for management services of the park, which will start Feb. 1 and run until Dec. 31, 2029. The city will pay Larsen $50,000 this year to run the golf course, with an increase of $1,000 each year throughout the duration of the contract, starting in 2021.
The new contract creates a budget gap, which will be partially filled by removing a compromise made to offer some support to city staff during the budget process in November. The quarter-time code enforcement officer position within the building inspection department will not be hired, saving the city $20,168.
The Common Council approved the contract at its Tuesday, Jan. 14, meeting by a 7-1 vote. Ald. Anne Scott (Dist. 1) was the only person to vote against the contract.
The city had previously allocated $30,000 in its budget cycle to pay Larsen to run NSGC, which Ald. Dan Bahr (Dist. 2) said often left Larsen with little income after spending much of the money on park maintenance.
“The issue became … within that $30,000, some of that money went for the operation of the golf course itself, and also he paid himself out of that money,” Bahr said. “He wasn’t making a whole lot of profit there, and I think he had a couple tough years with weather-related events that hindered business and that cost additional dollars.”
Larsen had asked to terminate his 2016-2020 contract for running NSGC in order to bid for higher compensation, city administrator Patrick Marsh told the council.
The city then solicited proposals for others to manage the course, but Larsen’s proposal of $50,000 was the only one the city received.
Mayor Aaron Richardson said that was the proper procedure so the city didn’t simply award a current contract holder more money in the middle of the contract.
“Doing it this way, the option was there for anyone to come forward,” he said. “That was a risk that the person running the golf course took.”
Two options the city considered for funding the increase on an ongoing basis included removing funding from the Healthy Neighborhoods initiative or using city contingency funds, but the Finance committee didn’t prefer them, said Bahr, a committee member.
Scott said the removal of the code enforcement position is a “real disappointment” for people in her district, because having the additional building inspection staff would have provided an opportunity for the area to get cleaned up.
“We still have piles and piles 0f garbage that sits out on the street every day,” she said. “There’s things that have been out there for now for two months.”