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Council likes golf course proposal
By Terri Harber
Dozens of people came to the special Baker City Council meeting on Friday to show their support for Bill Tiedemann, who wants to manage the city-owned Quail Ridge Golf Course now that longtime manager Seven Iron LLC has bowed out.
Councilors voted 6-0 to authorize City Manager Mike Kee to negotiate a contract with Tiedemann that could be for three years, but with a clause allowing the city to renegotiate terms after the first year.
Councilor Kim Mosier was absent Friday.
The Council would have the final say on whether to approve a contract with Tiedemann.
As contractor, Tiedemann would manage the course, bar, restaurant, pro shop and cart houses.
Tiedemann also proposes the city guarantee him a $75,000 yearly fee, which would come from revenue generated by the course, not from the city’s general fund, Kee said.
The $75,000 figure “may be negotiable,” Kee said.
He emphasized that the city, not Tiedemann, bears most of the risk in the proposal.
If golf course revenue falls short of Tiedemann’s expenses, the city could conceivably have to use general fund dollars to ensure the $75,000 fee, or whatever amount Kee and Tiedemann negotiate, is paid.
In his report to councilors Kee said Tiedemann overstated the potential revenue from the course. Tiedemann, however, said he has overstated expenditures as well. He is confident that he can reach his revenue target by providing a high level of customer service and attracting more golfers.
“I hope he does that,” Kee said this morning. “If the golf course could just be self-sustaining, that would be huge.”
The city also would have to buy mowers and other equipment and lease it to Tiedemann, Kee said. Seven Iron LLC owned most of the machinery it used to maintain the course.
Seven Iron LLC was allowed to keep all revenue from the course, but the company did not receive an annual guaranteed payment. For the first several years, in fact, Seven Iron LLC paid the city an annual lease fee of as much as $22,500.
The city hired Seven Iron LLC after a three-year period in which the city spent about $150,000 from the general fund to subsidize the golf course.
The goal, Kee said, is to avoid such subsidies, and Tiedemann has done “a very good job of making contacts within the community and seems to have a lot of support.”
“I thought this might be a great challenge,” Tiedemann told the councilors Friday.
“So I started digging into it and I feel like I have the background and the experience to execute the plan.”
Tiedemann was the only person to submit a proposal for managing the 18-hole course. He was vetted last week by a proposal committee, which supported his proposal, Kee said.
City councilors have expressed an interest in modeling the golf course management after the Anthony Lakes Ski Area, which has been operated by a nonprofit corporation since the previous owners gave the business to the county three years ago.
To ensure the golf course eventually is self-sustaining, there are “a lot of alligators to slay in the next few years,” Jim Grove said to the councilors while he noted his support of Tiedemann. “We’ve got to have a viable golf course.”
Excavator bids rejected
The councilors also decided to reject the price bids sought by city staff to purchase a used excavator.
All of the bids were below the maximum spending amount set in public works department budget. Another potential seller contacted some councilors after bidding closed. That person was said to have offered to sell an excavator for less than the five who followed the bid process.
Some of the councilors wanted to ignore the bids; others thought it would be wrong to do so.
Some of the councilors wanted to base rejection of the bids on it being more feasible to rent the equipment instead of purchasing it.
The first vote on whether to accept the lowest bid was tied 3 to 3. Councilors Clair Button, Barbara Johnson and Mike Downing wanted to award the bid.
They decided to take a second vote, this time on whether to reject the bids.
Michelle Owen, public works director, said the original low bidder opted out.