Council continues to waste taxpayers’ money on golf course

The city of Goldsboro recently received the audit for fiscal year 2017-18. It was disappointing to see that once again city council failed to take appropriate action to see that the Goldsboro Municipal Golf Course stop losing hundreds of thousands of dollars each year going back to 1999.

The fiscal year audit for 2016-17 showed a loss of $179,358. At the time, council indicated that they were acting to stop the losses in the future. As you know, there is only one way to correct the loss of all that money and that is to raise rates and increase revenue or reduce expenses. Council voted to raise rates and then abruptly changed their vote and voted for something different at the next meeting. During the budget hearings, there was little discussion on exactly how revenue was going to be increased and expenses reduced.

The most recent audit for 2017-18 showed that the golf course lost even more money. On page 94, the revenue was reported to be $521,563. On page 98, the report showed expenses to be $723,831. That shows a loss of $202,268. When you look at the revenue and expenses for the years beginning in 1999, you will see that revenue and expenses are consistent year over year. The problem now is that membership has been lower the past few years after peaking in the past.

The golf course is not a quality-of-life issue as previous city leaders have said. The most recent membership number I received from the city is dated Jan. 5, 2019. That report showed total membership had fallen to 155. The number of city residents that are members is only 39. Goldsboro as a population of over 35,000 and only 39 are members. That is such a small fraction of the population that, in my opinion, city council does not need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for such a small number of our population.

The Parks and Recreation department operates many fine programs for the youth, adults and seniors in Goldsboro. The city parks, the tennis courts, the basketball courts and the other facilities are a service provided to our residents to use and enjoy. While some may bring in some revenue, none of them are designed to make money. The golf course is different; the business model of a golf course is to make money and when they do not, they close. There are plenty of examples of golf courses that have closed in North Carolina and surrounding states. We have several golf courses in our county and surrounding counties.

So this is not a quality-of-life issue, it is council not accepting the fact that in the beginning, the city operating the golf course was a bad idea. The golf course was never going to be anything but a money pit to the taxpayers. Now it is time for council to make the hard decision.

LAWRENCE DAVID MERRITT

Goldsboro