It’s time golf course board saw a viable business plan [UPDATED]Published 9:58am Friday, November 23, 2012 Updated 12:03pm Friday, November 23, 2012
This letter is in response to the council’s latest potential and ongoing give-away of taxpayers’ money with little or no input from the city tax payers.
The financial situation at the local golf course and the proposed so-called fix is, in my opinion, a travesty.
The golf course board seems to be saying that with them running the restaurant and bar, their financial woes will end. In their opinion, this move will allow them to make their outstanding loan payments. This is simply a pipe dream.
I am a retired professional food service salesman with many years of experience in Otter Tail County.
I understand the challenges restaurants face, both new and existing places. lt is a fact that over 90 percent of all restaurants nation-wide will fail and enter bankruptcy.
For the golf course board to suggest that by simply paying a manager, expanding food service hours and having the mobile cart on the course for more hours and making some improvements to the physical plant that all will be well is not realistic. Furthermore, the weather plays a huge factor in the number of people who frequent the course and who may or may not choose to eat and drink there.
I recently had a conversation with our mayor Hal Leland who said that as far as he knows, the city council was never presented with any sort of business plan or an explanation of how the golf course board plans to make $20,000 to $100,000 in annual profit which will then allow them to pay off their loans. According to the Knutsons who ran Putters, on some days, especially Sundays, they often took in less than $50 in total sales in both the bar and the grill. I know of no bank that would make a loan of $150,000 additional money to anyone or any entity that already owes $530,000 in existing loans that are either past due or looming in the future with no way to pay them.
It seems that “Give us the money and we won’t lose $20,000 to $40,000 a year, we promise,” is all the golf course board needs to bring to the table.
Do the taxpayers of Fergus Falls realize that if the ‘projected new profits’ don’t appear as anticipated and if the $800,000 loan isn’t eventually paid, that they will be stuck with the bill?
Would be fair to call the golf course a money pit? All interest has been on hold and deferred. Nice, huh?
Putters, run by the Knutsons, closed the restaurant for some catered functions, causing some members to become upset at the unavailability of services.
The residents of Fergus Falls may be forced to pay so that some golf club members can have a drink on weekends.
No restaurant owners worked harder or cared more for their clientele than did the Knutsons.
To be forced out the door by an arrogant golf board set on curing their ailing golf course by taking over the food and beverage service is a gross disservice to the Knutsons and most likely, to the taxpayers of Fergus Falls when the loans finally come due and rest assured, they will.
By allowing the golf course board to go deeper in debt with an extended line of credit to $300,000, the city is, in essence, going into competition with all the other food service establishments in town. The existing establishments are paying taxes and have their own loans to pay off. They, too, may well end up footing their part of the bill for the golf course’s loans.
All I have to add is shame on the golf course board and the council. By the way, I like to golf and enjoy the course.
Ronald L. Michelson