MODESTO — The Modesto City Council gave staff the go-ahead Tuesday to negotiate a two-year contract with a management company for the operation of 18-hole Dryden and Creekside golf courses, which have been a financial strain on the citys general fund budget.
City officials expect to bring contract details to the council next week for approval and expect to have Kemper Sports managing the two city golf courses by the middle of the month. Kemper would replace Modesto-based FM Golf, which has managed the two courses since July 1, 2012.
The city notified FM Golf on April 11 that it was giving its six months notice to terminate the contract Oct. 11. FM Golf is run by Sue Fiscoe, the citys longtime golf pro.
As part of its deal with the city, FM Golf agreed to limit the general fund subsidy to the citys golf fund to $250,000 and reimburse the city for any amount above that. City officials say Modesto provided a $522,552 subsidy to the golf fund for the fiscal year that ended June 30. Nearly all of that subsidy $500,000 was for the annual payment for the debt issued to build Creekside.
The council voted 6-0 to negotiate with Kemper Sports. Councilman John Gunderson was not at the meeting. Kemper Sports manages more than 100 golf courses across the nation, including Stocktons Swenson Park and Van Buskirk municipal courses.
Modesto officials lauded the proposed deal, saying Kemper Sports has the track record to succeed in Modesto. But Chamber of Commerce CEO Cecil Russell expressed skepticism and wanted to know more about the proposals financial details and how it would reduce the city general funds support of golf.
City officials said they will be forthcoming as the city negotiates the contract with Kemper Sports. They also expressed confidence in Kemper Sports, adding that it had the best qualifications among the six firms that competed for the opportunity to manage the two courses. We should do better, Mayor Garrad Marsh said. We just should.
The proposed deal involves Valley Crest, which maintains the citys three golf courses. The citys third golf course, the nine-hole Modesto Municipal Golf Course, is managed by The First Tee, a youth golf nonprofit organization, and the Del Rio Foundation.
As part of the deal, the city will extend Valley Crests contract to October 2015. Valley Crest will reduce what it charges the city annually by $50,000, from $1,600,642 to $1,550,642. But the city says it will need to increase the duties of an administrative analyst to oversee the new contract, at an annual cost of $45,886.
The deal calls for Valley Crest not the city to pay Kemper Sports management fee for running the two courses. A Valley Crest official at Tuesdays meeting referred questions about the deal to his corporate office in Southern California. Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods Director Julie Hannon has said Valley Crest is motivated to keep the citys business.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2316.