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Golf course, anyone?
County seeking offers

by Valerie Verkamp
Landmark assistant editor

The Platte County Commission is soliciting requests for proposals to outsource the golf program management services at the county owned and operated 122-acre golf course.

The proposal will also allow respondents to present offers to make a lease-purchase offer on the course, county officials said.

Brian Nowotny, Platte County parks and recreation director, said next year the county will have the option to pay off the outstanding bonds stemming from the original purchase of the Shiloh Springs Golf Course. Funding derived through the voter approved half cent parks sales tax will allow the bond to be paid in full three-years ahead of schedule.

“My budget recommendation for next year includes funds necessary from the park sales tax to be able to repay those bonds early, if that is something the commission would like to do,” said Nowotny.

Once those bonds are paid in full, the county will have the freedom of selecting a qualified operator for the golf course. According to the request for proposals, the county is seeking a vendor to manage “high quality programs,” including the pro shop merchandising, tee time scheduling, clubhouse operations, as well as the on-site food and beverage operation.

The request also seeks proposals for the daily maintenance of the golf course, the club house, and clubhouse equipment.

Over the past decade, the public has funded various capital improvements made to the course including upgrades to the irrigation system, drainage improvements, the remodeling of hole 6, as well as tee restorations.

Nowotny said it is the county’s intent to explore the option of outsourcing golf managing services or establishing a public-private partnership to maximize the quality of programs offered at Shiloh Springs. By doing so, it is hoped, would bring a higher financial return to the county.

“We have many great partnerships to look back on and see how this will work well for us,” said Nowotny.

The partnership between the Platte County public community centers and the YMCA, as well as the operation of the various sports fields and the outsourcing of experts in the field are prime examples of how partnerships can foster a stronger operation.

“I think we have a good track record that we can rely on to believe this would be a good opportunity at this time,” Nowotny said.

The request for proposals states that the vendor must continue to provide instructional opportunities for youth golf programs.

“Each year over 120 kids are involved in our youth golf program. We would like to keep teaching the game of golf to young people,” said Nowotny.

Shiloh Springs also serves as a hosting facility for amateur players who attend Platte County R-3 High School. In the immediate future, the county encourages additional school districts that lack a designated golf program to utilize Shiloh Springs.

Another key component to the request for proposals takes Shiloh Springs' financial aspects into consideration.

Over the years, the maintenance and the day-to-day operation of the golf course has been subsidized.

In 2014, Shiloh Springs had an operating revenue of $478,737. Their operating expenditures over the last year were $607,593. That is a net loss of $128,856.

The operating revenue is considerably less than the amount projected in the budget for Shiloh by Nowotny and Kevin Robinson, county auditor.

Also, it should be pointed out the net loss operating loss does not include the annual bond payment in the neighborhood of $450,000.

In 2013, the operating revenue was $483,288 and the operating expenditures were $640,299. Shiloh Springs suffered a net loss of $157,011 in 2013.
In 2012, Shiloh Springs had an operating revenue of $555,876. Their expenditures were $662,940. That is a net loss of $107,064.

In 2011, Shiloh Springs suffered a net operating loss of $89,928.

“Part of the request for proposals will determine if there would be an opportunity for an outsource manager to provide that additional revenue back to the county to cover that annual operating need,” said Nowotny.

According to the request for proposals, vendors will be required to make quarterly lease payments of $95,000 to the county. That is $380,000 annually. Additionally, the vendor must pay the county a percentage of all gross revenues received over $650,000.

In addition to outsourcing the golf program management services, the county will also have the option to sell the 18-hole course and 9,000 square foot clubhouse. The request allows vendors to submit a purchase proposal, but excludes the buyer from operating the facility as a private golf course.

Mike McCarty, a Platte County resident who is an avid golfer, said a golf course like Shiloh Springs should not be losing money.

“I am surprised they are not making money. I don't think they are doing enough advertising, because golfers always take advantage of discounted offers,” said McCarty.

In April, the county hired GolfNow to serve as the marketing director of Shiloh Springs. The agreement expires in April 2016.

Shiloh Springs opened in 1995. Today, the facility has several practice facilities and has a fleet of 65 all-electric golf carts fully equipped with GPS devices.
The course is irrigated with water stored in four on-site water retention ponds that collect storm water runoff. They are also filled by an on-site natural spring. Currently, rates vary from $26.00 to $10 per person.

Nowotny said the request for proposals must be submitted to the office of the county clerk by 4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23.