By Tony A. Archuleta
The Truth or Consequences City Commission during a special meeting Monday, Nov. 17, unanimously voted to issue a request for proposals for management of the Municipal Golf Course.
Howie Tucker, the current contract manager at the nine-hole golf course since 2007, recently served notice of contract termination effective Dec. 31.
In response to questioning by Commissioner Kathy Clark, Tucker acknowledged when he signed the current contract –including a $50,000 annual payment from the city – that it was well below the $89,000 he estimated it would require to adequately operate and maintain the golf course.
But Tucker said he, along with the Golf Advisory Board membership, received assurances from city management that the city would direct financial resources toward leasing/purchasing maintenance equipment, including tractors and mowers.
“That was just an assumption?” Clark asked Tucker, who replied, “Correct.”
City Manager Juan Fuentes said that the city has provided support through wastewater treatment plant staff, including the delivery of effluent water for irrigating the fairways and greens.
Fuentes stressed original stipulations in the RFP, including the contractor’s responsibility to provide personnel and equipment, cannot be revised without issuing another call for bids from potential contractors.
The city manager further noted that the declining revenue stream from playing fees over the years, combined with financial challenges facing many a city department, will make it exceedingly difficult to take on additional financial obligations at the Muni.
Golf Advisory Board President Les Dufour was on hand to tell the commission that the board is not advocating on behalf of any particular manager, whether it be Tucker or any would-be successor.
Dufour said the board’s main interest is to “advocate a contract that’s equitable.”
Tucker was asked by one of the commissioners to offer his take on what it will take for the city to come to reasonable terms with a contractor.
Tucker said a contractor should be in charge of every aspect of golf operations except the delivery of city water – both fresh water and effluent water, both of which are said to be of poor quality – as well as maintenance of water storage ponds.
He also recommended a leasing/purchasing partnership between the contractor and the city for high-dollar maintenance equipment. Tucker said after a five-year lease, the city would take ownership of the equipment.
With Tucker leaving at the end of December, Fuentes, in response to a commissioner’s inquiry, said it wouldn’t be possible to get a new contractor on board by January.
Fuentes, however, said the city would find a way to keep the golf course open while requests for proposals are being solicited.
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