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November 04, 2008
Golf association requests more money from city
TRINIDAD, Colorado (STPNS) -- The Trinidad-Las Animas County Municipal Golf Association, Inc. (TGA) petitioned the City of Trinidad for more money last Tuesday at the city council work session, with the TGA estimating that it would otherwise run out of funds by January.
TGA representatives were told by Mayor Joe Reorda to meet with City Manager Jim Soltis and City Finance Manager Rosie Blatnik to discuss additional funding. The TGA already receives $45,000 annually from the city, along with $7,275 from the county government. This year, the city has also given TGA another $97,860 to purchase two mowers.
The initial part of the TGA's presentation was made by TGA President John Garcia, who informed the council of the dire financial straits the TGA and the golf course were in. According to Garcia and TGA Financial Manager Dick Laner, the course had shown a 15 percent loss in 2007, amounting to $50,000, and it was quickly running out of operating funds for this year.
"This isn't something that just happened, the shortfall" Garcia said. "This has been building for several years."
Garcia pointed at the declining rounds of golf played at the course, the projected 2008 total of 9,820 showing a decrease from the 2007 total of 10,876 rounds, the increase in propane and fertilizer costs, the lack of a clubhouse at the course till Sabrosa opened last year and the inclement weather the past few years.
"One of the biggest factors that affects us is weather," he said. "We started in 2002 with the drought, that affects play a lot, then we had that big snowfall (in December-January 2007) that shut the course basically down for four months with no income, then last year we went five months with little or no play because of the wind and the cold."
Laner informed the council that the TGA had been able to cope with the $50,000 loss in 2007 thanks to its savings, but with those depleted by the lack of higher profit levels from the previous few years, the course would not be economically viable for much longer.
"I would be out of revenue in November and would therefore have no ability to pay anything in November and December," Laner said.
Revenue generating membership dues for the course are not due till Jan. 1, though Laner suggested that the TGA may offer unspecified incentives for early renewals. Other revenue-increasing suggestions proffered by the TGA included petitioning the city's Parks and Recreation Committee for assistance, increasing green fees and cart rental fees and seeking additional sponsors for tournaments.
Council member John Rino asked Laner what dollar amount the TGA specifically needed to make it through to the next golf season. "We need to ask the (TGA), what do you really want and what do you really need so you can survive for the remainder of the golf season?" he asked.
Laner did not reply with a dollar amount, but Reorda put the figure at $40,000.
The meager returns seen by the TGA on the tournaments it held throughout the golfing season were also discussed at the council meeting. The course's resident golf professional and pro shop operator, Bernie Blan told the council that only two of the five TGA sponsored tournaments were actually profitable, with the other three showing losses of various figures. The profitable 2008 tournaments were the Memorial Day and the Seniors tournaments. The Memorial Day tournament produced a net income of $3,089 and the Seniors tournament produced a net income of $340.
Tournaments that produced a loss of income for the TGA included the Happy Valley, Labor Day and Fall Classic tournaments. Those showed respective losses of $229, $1,200 and $439.
Laner told the council that, "I don't think we've ever experienced something this bad."
Garcia and Blan stated that the course's 15 percent revenue decline for 2007 was part of a trend of declining revenues as tracked by the PGA across the state. According to Blan, the course's 15 percent decline may have been higher than the state's average, but was less devastating than the 18 percent average decline in revenues seen at courses across the southern Colorado region.
"Our 15 percent is doing a little better than the rest of the golf courses in southern Colorado," Blan said. "But, golf is down; it's happening everywhere."
Blan also shared with the council his plans to hopefully increase revenues at the course over the next few years. "(Council member Liz) Aragon asked what's the guarantee we're not going to come back and ask for more money," Blan said. "To me as a professional, I hate having to rely on someone to bail us out of situations, and what I've come up with is a plan in order to raise revenue."
Blan's plan included increased marketing for the course, increased green fees, increased usage of the course by younger and/or female residents and cooperative outings with courses in surrounding communities. His plans became moot, however, when he received the day following the council meeting a letter from the TGA terminating his contract at the pro shop effective Jan. 1.
The TGA was also a source of funding controversy last year when it approached the city to purchase it a nearly-quarter million dollar modular clubhouse. The TGA had claimed impatience with the opening of the dining establishment, Sabrosa, currently open for business at the entrance to the golf course. The purchase of the clubhouse was almost fast-tracked through the council, but was eventually stopped through citizen protest and the withdrawal of Reorda's support.
The TGA's site for the golf course can be found online at www.trinidadgc.com.
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