by Ivan Foley
Four proposals have been received by Platte County from firms responding to the county’s request for golf course management services.
Where does the process go from here?
At a meeting Monday morning, the commissioners indicated a desire to meet with each of the four bidders separately to go over their proposals in detail. Each proposal differs in scope and approach, which makes analysis more difficult and time-consuming than a normal bid process.
Also, the commission instructed Brian Nowotny, parks director, to look into the cost of getting an appraisal done of Shiloh Springs, the county owned golf course that continues to lose money, with an operating loss of around $200,000 anticipated this year, county officials indicated.
Commissioners on Monday expressed a desire to have Shiloh Springs appraised for its value as a golf course operation, and also to have the land/improvements appraised.
Commissioners indicated they could start meeting with firms, bringing them in individually, as early as Friday of this week.
Submitting responses to the county’s request for proposals to manage, lease or buy the golf course were: Kemper Sports, which operates municipal courses such as Shoal Creek and Hodge Park in Kansas City; Orion Management Solutions, which operates courses for the city of Blue Springs and city of Kansas City; Story Golf Partners of St. Peters, Mo.; and Gary Martin of Platte City, whose company originally developed Shiloh.
Ron Schieber, presiding commissioner, said: “The long term, first question is: do we want to be in the golf course business? My answer to that initially is I don't. If that's my number one priority, there are only two options (in the proposals submitted) to get us out of the golf course business: Story and Martin. Martin put a specific price in his. Story has a blurb that in the second 3-5 year phase a lease purchase would be considered,” Schieber said.
Martin’s written presentation to the county proposes a purchase price of $1.2 million for Shiloh at the end of a three year lease period.
Schieber describes some of the details of Martin’s proposal as “pretty much a marketing strategy to bring more rounds” on a one-year trial. Martin proposes establishing Shiloh as a non-profit operation.
Martin’s plan has no substantial change to staffing.
“It’s basically a one-year trial at no cost to us and after that it’s a negotiated thing,” Schieber said of Martin’s proposal.
“At least Martin’s proposal has a number in it (the proposed $1.2 million purchase price at the end of three years) and a specific take-out time,” Schieber said.
Story’s proposal mentions it believes the firm could put Shiloh in position to be a break-even operation in three years, while Orion Management says it sees the subsidy as something that “can’t be eliminated for some time.” Kemper anticipates a $100,000 operating loss for Shiloh in year one and $65,000 loss in year two.
“But they (Kemper) are basing that on the number of rounds being up substantially and fees being up substantially,” Schieber said.
In discussion among county commissioners, Roper was strongest of exploring the possibility of selling Shiloh as development ground. Duane Soper, second district county commissioner, indicated he would be opposed to selling the golf course.
“We either come up with a plan to make it run where it's not losing money or you just sell the thing, which I’m opposed to,” Soper said, saying that taxpayers have invested up to $10 million into Shiloh.
“But is it possible for that course to ever make money?” Roper asked.
“I think it is,” Soper said.
A bit later in the discussion, Roper further indicated her doubts as to whether the golf course could ever break even or make money.
"I don’t think anybody is going to take a chance on it, with all the courses around and with the way it was laid out to begin with,” she said.
Earlier during Monday morning’s discussion, Nowotny said he believes the county-owned golf course is of value to the community.
“Having a golf course in the county brings added value to the community. The public enjoys the golf course. It terms of it being a community asset, I believe that it is,” Nowotny said.
Nowotny was asked to prepare a summary sheet to list the important aspects of each proposal submitted by the various firms.
Schieber said specifically he would like to see items such as the cost to the county after the management contract and a comparison of each firm’s proposed operating budget compared to the county’s current budget for Shiloh.