Posted: 12:00 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013

CLOSER LOOK: GOVERNMENT SPENDING

Mason-owned golf course swinging away at deficit

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Mason-owned golf course swinging away at deficit photo
E.L. Hubbard
The restaurant and Pro Shop at The Golf Center at Kings Island. In 2008, the golf course was almost $1 million in debt. Last year, after the first year of a new contract with Recreation Management Services, the deficit dropped to $179,687.

By Denise G. Callahan

Staff Writer

MASON —

The Golf Center at Kings Island has seen deficits plunge by 80 percent during the past five years, and city officials credit the management team they have running the course.

In 2008, the golf course was almost $1 million in debt. Last year, after the first year of a new contract with Recreation Management Services, the deficit dropped to $179,687.

Vice Mayor Victor Kidd, who chairs the city council’s golf course committee, credits the management team they have running the course for the efforts.

“I feel like those guys have made great concessions out there,” he said. “I know they’ve scaled back on pay and benefits and they’re working longer hours. It’s a team of people who see it as more than just a job, they love the community and they love the golf course.”

The city paid $9 million for the golf course — that includes the 18-hole PGA course dubbed the Grizzly, designed by Jack Nicklaus — in 2006

Year-to-date the operating loss stands at $298,450, and City Manager Eric Hansen attributed the higher loss number this year to the fact there was a lot more good golfing weather in 2012.

The contract calls for a guaranteed fee that is 80 percent of the revenue target or $1.3 million. Additional revenues are available with incremental targets above the 80 percent. Revenue targets are set every year and if RMS wants to keep running the course it must reach 70 percent of the target by the end of September each year and 80 percent by year’s end.

Hansen said RMS is also now responsible for things like payroll, a tab the city used to pick up.

“Now those expenses belong to RMS,” he said. “Their management fee is larger but their responsibilities for those expenses is a lot higher.”

Ashworth, who is president of RMS, said he did not want to discuss actions they have taken to reign in the deficit.

“We’re working harder and smarter, that’s the whole story,” he said.

Another golf course in the city is also undergoing changes. The Old Western Row Golf Course went on the market for $37 million in 2007. The new Alverta residential development is underway on a portion of the 147-acre property and the rest of land at Western Row and Mason Montgomery roads will be commercial.

Meanwhile the old Kingswood golf course in Deerfield Twp. continues to be used as a park. The township bought the 100-acre golf course for $8 million in 2006 to keep the prime piece of real estate away from being annexed by Mason. The township ran the course for a year before stopping play because it was taking up too much of the park department’s time.

Township Administrator Bill Becker said the trustees have discussed the site off and on but there have been no concrete plans for Kingswood.

“It’s a great piece of property and it will develop at the right time and with the right project,” he said. “I know the trustees have a vision of something big and bold there at some point, but right now it’s just a park.”


GOLF CENTER AT KINGS ISLAND BUDGET DEFICITS

2007: $432,796*

2008: $929,067

2009: $800,305

2010: $811,735

2011: $730,022

2012: $179,687

* Represents approximately nine months of operation

Source: City of Mason

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