By Sue Moore
Village Manager Jim Mallery outlined finances for the Angels Crossing Golf Course thoroughly enough to soften the voice of the one of the village’s harshest critics, a candidate for council president.
“We understand that there are mixed feelings and emotions about Angels Crossing golf course from our citizens and business community, both in support of the golf course or not,” Village Manager Jim Mallery said, opening discussion about the possibility of selling the golf course at the October village council meeting.
“Having that in mind, it is my professional opinion to continue on a path that constantly focuses on making the golf course more profitable, more marketable, and more community oriented,” he said.
Mallery in a prepared statement said this was his perspective after studying the issue over the last four months in office. He pointed out these facts:
• The village purchased the property September 22, 2009 for $1.2 million on a land contract with Kalamazoo County State Bank.
• The new clubhouse was approved on March 18, 2011 with a budget of $550,000. It was completed at a cost $300,000 over budget.
• It was financed at over 9 percent interest, making the debt $1,900,000.
If sold today, the most the village could expect from a sale would be ten times net earnings which currently are under $100,000. That would still leave $1,000,000 of debt to be retired out of taxpayers’ wallets, Mallery went on to say.
• The dollars from a sale of the golf course could not be used to improve the infrastructure of the village, i.e., water, sewer, village hall, etc. This is because the course is a government enterprise, standing on its own legs. Like funds for water and sewer, course funds can’t be used for any other purpose.
• The bond repayment schedule extends to 2030 . Bonds cannot be retired early without a huge penalty.
• In 2014, the village restructured this debt from 9 percent to just under 4 percent interest rate, thus saving the village $23,000 per year in interest payments.
Mallery then listed the strategy which he and Jeff Rohrstaff, the course manager, believe will continue to increase profits. They include increasing total number of leagues from two to four, increasing number of rounds played by 500 and increasing number of golf events by four.
To accomplish this, a marketing campaign will be proposed. The Creekside Grille would figure into profitability with being open on more days during the winter. The need for capital improvements to the course should be figured into the expenditures Mallery said.
“There will be a dashboard for everything related to Angels Crossing,” Mallery promised. “We want the decisions to be driven by data in order to take the emotions out of the equation. Data is everything. We want to provide wow service to the public throughout this process.”
Another proposal from Trustee Ron Smith would create a docking station for kayaks just below the clubhouse to enhance the idea of a water trail system. It would not be a launch but a place where paddlers on the water trail could come in for food and drink.
Trustee Julie Merrill concluded in her remarks that a sale of the golf course would create more of a hardship if the village cut bait now.
Denny Olson, running for village president and calling for sale of the course, claimed he had gotten more information in 17 minutes than in two years from the village council. “I understand business and agree that we are stuck with owning the golf course.”