To the editor:
In 2014, I began to look into the revenue and expenses at the city-owned Goldsboro Municipal Golf Course. Over the years, I have heard conflicting information concerning both the revenue and the expenses. I have had many meetings with the city manager, the parks and recreation director and the finance director for Goldsboro. I have spoken to many of the past and present council members about my concerns.
I obtained from the city manager the total expenses from the beginning in 1999 through 2015. The expenses from that time period are $15,043,832. The reported revenue for that same time period is $9,091,654. This has resulted in a loss to the city of $5,952,177. When I was given these numbers, I was shocked and disappointed. There are those in city government that try to spin these numbers, but facts are the facts. The last year we have audited numbers for the golf course is FY 2016-17, and it shows a deficit of $179,358. I have heard that the final audit for FY 2017-18 will be released soon and will be even worse. There is an old saying, and I think it applies here: “IF YOU ARE IN A HOLE, STOP DIGGING.”
I also looked into the membership numbers, and they vary from time to time. The last official numbers I received from the city manager show a total membership of fewer than 129 members. This was from a report I received Feb. 8. Of those numbers, fewer than 40 were residents of Goldsboro. There are more than 35,000 city residents, and spending over $6 million for such a small percentage of the population is in my opinion not a good way to spend tax dollars. I believe that the council members need to understand that they have no legal or moral duty to spend those tax dollars on non-city residents.
I personally would like to see the golf course be successful, but with the current climate in golf, it does not appear that will ever happen. If the course lost money in the good years, please tell me why anyone thinks it will make money in down years with inflation affecting wages and other expenses. The city council only recently made a token dues increase and not the increases that are needed. Anyone can contact other golf courses and see how cheap our prices are and yet we continue to lose thousands of dollars every year with no end in sight.
I believe it is time for council to act in a responsible manner for the taxpayers. As you have read in the paper, there are a lot of programs that could use funding that would also affect a lot more people. There are several options that council has, and I think it is way past time for them to act responsibly to the taxpayer.
LAWRENCE D. MERRITT