WATERTOWN — The city’s takeover of the Watertown Golf Club in Thompson Park cleared a major hurdle on Tuesday night after the City Council approved an operating budget for the now city-owned golf course.
By a 3-2 vote, council members readopted the current budget for the Thompson Park Golf Course to provide funding for operations through June 30. The expenses total $304,905. Staff anticipates $164,150 in revenue and a potential $140,000 loss.
Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith and Councilwoman Sarah V. Compo Pierce, who have opposed the deal to purchase the golf course, voted against taking the action. The councilwoman didn’t say why she voted against the operating budget.
Mayor Smith said the numbers provided by former owner Michael E. Lundy indicated it was “an extremely profitable business.” He also pointed out the city hasn’t yet signed up any tournaments.
“Why are we not coming up with a profit?” the mayor asked.
Parks and recreation superintendent Scott D. Weller told the mayor that the city has received calls from organizations that want to hold tournaments at the golf course in June. Others have also expressed interest.
Two tournaments have decided to move to other courses in the area.
After the vote, Councilwoman Lisa A. Ruggiero wondered whether the mayor and Councilwoman Compo Pierce’s no votes meant that “they don’t want it to open.”
“It’s time to move on,” she urged her colleagues.
Asked about the status of getting the golf course opened on May 1, Mr. Weller told council members: “We’re working on it. The more we have done, the more clearer the picture.”
According to a draft of the fiscal year 2023-24 plan, the club’s proposed budget shows projected expenditures for an entire year of operation. Expenses would total $586,229 next year, with anticipated revenues totaling $440,500 for a $146,000 deficit.
But that doesn’t take into account any revenues coming from a vendor selling food and beverages from the golf course’s clubhouse. Interested vendors have until March 2 to submit proposals for the clubhouse restaurant.
In other action, City Council unanimously approved a fee schedule for the city-run golf course.
In December, the city finalized a deal to purchase the golf club from Mr. Lundy for $3.4 million. Council members Ruggiero, Cliff G. Olney III and Patrick J. Hickey supported the deal.
Under the proposed operating budget, the city plans to hire a full-time golf course manager who would make an annual salary of $39,633 next year and $18,430 for this season.
Maintenance supervisor Jerry Romig will be paid $3,250 for his work on the golf course, in addition to what he earns annually in the position.
The golf course will employ nine seasonal workers at a total cost of $90,000 this season and $185,000 next fiscal year. The city has been advertising for the positions and anyone interested can apply through the Civil Service office through Friday.
If the city cannot find employees, specs are being put together to contract a groundskeeper for the golf course.
The city also needs to invest $61,250 in materials and supplies like golf balls, clubs, tees and the driving range, equipment for events and tournaments, the irrigation system and sand, seed and topsoil.
A series of fees also have been put together for the golf course. Non-city residents would be charged more.
In recent months, the deal to purchase has become a hotly debated issue in the city, with people opposing it because of the $3.4 million price tag. Supporters have said it gives the city control of the land in the city-owned park forever.
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