Recreation committee submits six-month budget for Clear Creek; projects surplus

Published 7:19 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Warren County Recreation and Parks commissioners presented a proposed budget for the remaining six months of the fiscal year for Clear Creek Golf Course that projects a $9,000 surplus without further county help.

Discussion over the proposal also led to comments about attracting more golfers to the course.

Recreation and parks receives a $361,000 supplement for operations from the Warren County supervisors. The county also pays the golf course’s bills and picked up paying employee salaries in January. It is reimbursed by the commission.

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The supervisors in November granted the commissioners an extra $25,000 in November so they could meet payroll.

“We have spent $393,876 so far (on bills),” county administrator John Smith said at a board work session Monday, adding that $27,123.67 remains of the $361,000 supplement.

Smith said after the meeting, the county’s recently approved $28,500 16th Section lease on the golf course will be paid using that remaining $27,123.

He said the commission will have to rely on revenue generated by golf course green fees and concessions and other sales to pay the bills and make payroll.

“They are going to have to be dependent to pay payrolls and claims on what comes through the door,” he said. “They’ve got to bridge that gap between their future expense and future revenues.”

Commission chairman Dale McDuff said rainy periods over the past six months severely affected revenue at the golf course, adding, “We had the doors shut a lot of days. If it hadn’t been for the rain, it would have been a little bit better.”

McDuff said the proposed six-month budget projects $284,67.84 in revenue from green fees, concessions and other sales for the next six months “if the weather changes.” Also figured in the budget is a savings in payroll from employee turnover.

“To make a long story short, when it’s all said and done, we should come out $10,000 to the plus (revenue compared against expenses),” he said. “If things change and the weather pattern changes.”

The issue over the golf course’s financial problems has been an ongoing problem for the supervisors and the commission. Part of the problem, the commissioners said, is an apparent lack of interest in golf in the area.

“Golf is dying,” commissioner Henry Hunter said. “The younger people are not interested at this point. The only way I see that golf course being self-sufficient, we’ve got to find a way to draw more interest.”

Hunter suggested the commissioners visit some other area courses to see what they’re doing. “We do nothing to enhance golf in Warren County; we’ve got to do something.”

He told the supervisors they needed to invest more money into enhancing the course.

“Either commit to it or don’t,” commissioner Lloyd Clark told the board. “You’re going to have to be committed and tell people we’re going to have a golf course.”

Supervisor Charles Selmon told the commissioners to develop plan to improve the golf course and make more attractive.

Commissioner Dave Davenport said the county needs to get the YMCA involved with the course, advertise at Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi and generate more interest among youth.
“The general principle has been that the golf course, especially for this community, is a valuable asset, overall in the long run,” Board of Supervisors president Richard George said.

“People’s tendencies change; their recreational habits obviously are different, but overall, recreation has to be addressed and handle properly. I think it’s going to be a serious decision on our part if we’re going to invest in the future of Warren County as a retirement community, as place that offers viable recreation.”

He said one problem the county has for funding is the lack of the sales tax revenue the city receives.

“That’s where our hamstring is in the financing of recreation. We don’t get anything on the backside of it. It makes it difficult for the board to decide if this thing gets done or recreation. Recreation deserves more than it’s given.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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