Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

We don't like to see Baker City forego $57,000.

But when the alternative could take a larger bite from the city's budget, we at least understand.

The $57,000 in this case is money the city could, in theory, collect from Seven Iron LLC, the company, owned by Billy Cunningham, that has managed the city-owned Quail Ridge Golf Course for close to a decade.

In exchange for taking care of the course and paying an annual fee, Cunningham gets to keep greens fees and other course-related income.

Under the current contract, that annual fee is $22,500.

With the recession cutting into discretionary spending, some golfers have cut back on their hobby. And that has reduced Seven Iron's revenues. Meanwhile, many of the costs associated with maintaining the course, such as fuel and fertilizer, have increased.

As a result, the City Council this week considered a new contract that would trim Seven Iron's next three annual payments to $2,500, $3,500 and $4,500, respectively.

As we said, not a great deal.

Except it wasn't so long ago when the city was stuck with a worse deal to operate one of the city's prime assets and visitor attractions.

Before Seven Iron came along, the city transferred about $150,000 over three years to the golf course from the general fund - the same pot that pays for the police and fire departments.

The Council is wise to avoid that kind of subsidy.