Business operations to be reviewed with accumulated losses around $1 million
BY KEVIN BONESKE
The city-owned Northwood Golf Course, which has accumulated losses in the neighborhood of $1 million, will have a business review of its operations following action Monday night by the Rhinelander City Council.
All seven council members in attendance agreed to take $10,000 out of the general fund to have the consulting work done by Green Golf Partners, which will do consulting over 60 days with $5,000 payable upon execution of the agreement and the other $5,000 payable within 30 days of the final presentation to the city’s Golf Course Advisory Committee.
Interim city administrator Keith Kost said Green Golf Partners would review the course’s current management practices to see if they can be altered “to achieve efficiency that would allow financial stability.”
“They’ll review and discuss the impact of a possible third-party management and its associated financial and local impact, and also look at the possibility of the sale of the course,” Kost said.
Through Aug. 8, Kost said the Northwood Golf Course was down about $254,000 in revenue from what was budgeted this year.
“The projected loss this year by the budget was $51,000,” he said. “What’s projected now with the revenues being down is over $108,000 (in losses), plus you would have to add – you’re actually looking at cash flow – that part of the $53,000 (in debt service) that was principal.”
At the end of 2016, Kost said the Northwood Golf Course owed the city’s general fund $909,742.03.
Alderman Alex Young said the Northwood Golf Course has value to the city from an economic and tourism standpoint, but from a cash flow standpoint it has been a problem for the city for years.
“As least as long as I’ve been on the council, we’ve chased our tails on trying to come up with a solution for that,” Young said. “It’s been brought before the council multiple times – sometimes by me, sometimes by others – and we just continue to chase our tail.
“We’ve had, at least since I’ve been around, 13 years to come up with a solution ourselves, and we haven’t done that. I think that for a problem that’s literally a $1 million problem, it’s well worth spending $10,000 for a consultant that has expertise in this area that may be able to come up with something to solve this problem for the city in the long term.”
Alderman Tom Gleason said he isn’t “real wild about the $10,000 coming out of the general fund” to pay for Green Golf Partners doing the consulting work, but he is interested in finding out how much the golf course is worth.
“We’ve got to cut the rope on this anchor before it pulls us down…,” Gleason said. “Even if it’s sold or given back, or whatever, it’s still operated as a golf course, it’s still going to be put back on the tax rolls.
“It will generate revenue for the community itself, like hopefully it’s doing now. It just won’t be the responsibility of the city to keep paying the debt that it owes.”
The city received the property about 30 years ago from Wausau Paper for the purpose of it being used as a public golf course.