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DeKalb parks committee wants golf courses to remain in district's hands

DeKALB – The newly formed golf committee helping steer the DeKalb Park District’s two golf courses is recommending River Heights and Buena Vista remain under the management of the district, and that an interim golf manager be hired for the 2020 season.

The 11-member committee met for the first time Wednesday in what is to be a weekly conversation to compile a report ahead of the Dec. 19 deadline when the district board will begin budget talks for its fiscal 2021. It’s comprised of six residents – Vince McMahon, Larry Schultz, Tom Anderson, Tom Teresinski, Randy Bourdages and Austin Sands, who works as a seasonal employee at River Heights. Other voting members include committee chairman and Commissioner Dag Grada, vice chairwoman and Commissioner Gail Krmenec and Commissioner Dean Holliday, who was added after the board vote Thursday, Grada said after the meeting. Adam Anderson, who is the acting interim maintenance superintendent and Steven Burski, acting assistant golf superintendent who’s worked at River Heights for 12 years also are voting members.

Many members called into question the district’s tight deadline to fix what has been described as a recurring financial operating deficit in the courses. Grada said the district’s not been prioritizing golf properly, but hopes the committee can come up with some solutions.

“The issue of golf course finances has been getting kicked down the road for a number of years,” Grada said after the meeting. “This isn’t the first golf advisory committee, although it is the first public body. There was one back in 2009 or 2010 which basically didn’t achieve much. It’s an issue which has come up every year repeatedly.”

Teresinski urged district staff to research other comparable golf courses run by public entities that are self-sustaining.

“I have some questions about why we don’t allocate any of our tax revenue to the revenue stream of the golf course,” Teresinski said.

McMahon suggested the district use revenue from the tax increment financing district expected to be on the 2019 property tax levy to help subsidize golf operations.

Holliday also was vocal about the courses remaining in district hands. He said the district can’t sell the courses without a public referendum.

“This place cannot be sold by us unless there is a referendum, and I don’t think that’s ever going to happen,” Holliday said. “It might close which I would do everything in my power that it won’t.”

Grada addressed allegations made during the public comment section that the district has plans to hand over the reigns Bill Casper Golf, the Chicago-based consulting firm that was paid $20,000 to conduct a golf assessment for the district.

“No, there is no discussion at the present time,” Grada said after the meeting.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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