“The commissioners voted to terminate the contract with King Management, so effective January the first, the city will be taking it back over,” City Manager Kenny Smith said.
Smith said the city made the move because King Management was not operating the golf course profitably.
The city leased the golf course to King Management, owned by Charlie King in February 2005 due to the large losses — $300,000 to $400,000 per year — that the city incurred to run it.
Although King managed to reduce the losses, in part by replacing full-time employees with part-time employees who did not draw benefits, he was not able to run the course at a profit.
According to city documents, the golf course’s projected revenue for the remainder of the fiscal year is $213,369.
The operations and maintenance budget, however, is $295,315, producing a shortfall of $81,946.
Smith attributed part of the problem to the golf course’s older irrigation system, which would have cost half a million to replace outright, as part of the problem.
Although the city will take over the golf course from King, it will keep him on as an employee. He will receive a salary of $21,000 per year, as well as $1 per round of golf played at the course, which will give him an incentive to attract more players.
A bad year would add $18,000 to his salary, while an average year would provide an extra $20,000 and a good year $22,000.
Even though there aren’t enough rounds of play in Griffin to generate a profit, the city plans to continue operating the golf course at a loss in order to provide recreation opportunities for city residents.
“We’ll have to subsidize the operation,” Smith said.
City Commissioner Doug Hollberg was a supporter of the transfer of the golf course to King Management earlier.
“It was a win-win for the city,” he said. “It was costing us an excess of $400,000 a year to operate it at the time.”
He said that he appreciated King’s efforts to manage the golf course and that once it was back under city control, he would do what was necessary to keep the course operating for the benefit of the citizens of Griffin and neighboring communities.
Charles King, owner of King Management, believes the solution is the best for everyone.
“They’ll keep me on as clubhouse manager of the facility,” he said. “I think, mutually, it will work out for all parties involved.”
He said that the arrangement kept the current golf course personnel on board and their experience would not be lost.
He knew little of the city’s plans beyond that, although he did say that the city planned on hiring a superintendent to take care of the golf course itself.