PUBLIC STATEMENT: JULY 5, 2011 CITY COUNCIL

PUBLIC STATEMENT: 

CITY COUNCIL
PRESENTATION

JULY 5, 2011

 

This is an exciting time
for Council and our community.  Councils
past and present have labored to achieve the goal of maximum value for Lady
Bird Golf Course.  Our Director of Golf
has laid before you what is probably the best considered long term plan and
financial pro forma placed before Council in many years.  All of you have both attended recent public
Town Hall meetings and also taken the opportunity to learn about Alan’s
proposal in depth.  The long term plan as
presented is the result of studied, inclusive  and transparent methodology.

 

1.  FOLB:  I am the President of FOLB and wish to convey to
Council the appreciation of our 121 active members for your confidence in our
organization to act as ombudsman for golf related activities in our community.  FOLB’s interest in Lady Bird is
multi-dimensional.  We have actively
engaged junior golf, tourism, local businesses, and educational institutions.  Additionally, we are involved in ground
water, environmental and stewardship issues which have a broad impact.  Our interests and engagement include the
entire community.

 

FOLB has persistently
pursued our Council charge and mission with transparency, and inclusiveness.  We have always supported a systematic
methodology for planning and the best use of available resources, both
financial and labor.  FOLB has put
forward  official positions for public
discussion with  myriad open meetings,
newspaper articles, town hall meetings, suggestion box and our web site.

 

The Master Plan presented
tonight  was produced by the Director of
Golf.  This is not an FOLB Master Plan;
indeed we were not charged to develop a Master Plan and to do so would
have overstepped our charter.  FOLB definitely
endorses Alan’s deliberate and inclusive methods and we feel that the Master Plan
reflects the efforts of FOLB over the past three years to make Lady Bird the
best she can be.  Our mission remains
clear:  we support affordable golf for
residents and visitors, an active inclusive junior golf program, and synergy
with the tourist industry to provide more attractions for visitors.

 

2.  Lady Bird has
multiple stake-holders
:
Lady Bird has multiple stakeholders, all of whom Alan has considered and
included in his methodology of achieving a Master Plan.  These stakeholders include residents who wish
affordable recreation, the business community which desires quality of life
venues to attract new businesses, workers, and future home buyers,  youngsters who wish to become acquainted with
a life time sport, UIL competitors, both girls and boys in middle and high, who
wish a competitive venue for their home course, out-of- towners who are looking
for value in their recreation when visiting Fredericksburg, environmentalists
who are increasingly interested in proper stewardship, and bird watchers who
are coming to our community to experience the fabulous Texas flyways in the
spring and fall.  An additional
stakeholder is the City of Fredericksburg which needs to shunt  millions of gallons of effluent water away
from Barron’s Creek as efficiently as possible.

 

3.  Master Plan:  The
Master Plan represents detailed  strategic
and tactical, and operational thinking.
The Master Plan  includes a cogent
business plan and financial pro forma which have  been reviewed with financial experts, the
membership of the Chamber of Commerce as well as our  CFO and City Manager and represents input from
all.   This Master Plan represents considered
and excellent work by city Staff  and is
not an elaboration of  a consultant’s
opinion.  I have no doubt that you appreciate
not only Alan’s professional expertise in developing the Master Plan in a very
short period of time, but also the credibility and practicality of the
proposal.

 

 

4.  Elephant in
the room:  I will borrow a metaphor from our Mayor:  “The Elephant in the Room”
metaphor.   I believe that the Elephant in the Room is the
public discussion and bond election concerning the swimming pool.  As much as Council wishes to put the pool
issue and its bond election behind, there seems to be a tendency to mentally combine
public expenditures for the pools with public expenditures for the golf
course. 
I believe there is overwhelming public support for a municipal
swimming venue and program in Fredericksburg.  However,  the plan put forward did not meet the public’s
needs and no amount of marketing would have “sold” the product
submitted to the public.  Similar to a viable and sustainable swimming program,
there is general support for an improved golf venue which would serve as
an attractor for visitors.  In fact, I would submit that there has been
marketing of the idea for improvements at Lady Bird for three years, finances
included.

 

Some differences to
consider:

 

1.  The Golf Course Fund is a Municipal
Enterprise Fund, designated as such many years ago.  As a Municipal Enterprise Fund, the Golf Fund
has certain specific characteristics and requirements defined  by statue.
Conversely, the Parks and Recreation Department receives its funding
through the General Fund for which there are other specific requirements.

 

2.  Council
chose to separate the Golf Department and the Golf Fund from the Parks
and Recreation Department.  Subsequently,
Council has  appointed a Director of Golf who is a PGA
professional with considerable expertise and experience.

 

3.  It is true that the golf course needs
additional capital to build on investments made over the past 50 years.
The amount needed is small relative to the value of investments already in
place.  Conversely, the swimming pools required a total  rebuild and therefore a new Master Plan.

 

4.  Lady
Bird and general golf course issues have been vetted publically over three
years.   The needs and concerns for both
the short and long term of all the stakeholders have been discussed and
integrated into the Master Plan. The cost of improvements has been discussed at
every public venue.  Indeed, the current
Master Plan represents considerable compromise and reconciliation in response
to citizen input.  Conversely, there was
no systematic method for citizen and community involvement in the planning
process for the swimming pools.

5.  Lady Bird now has a well defined long term
Master Plan and detailed business pro forma as requested of the Director of
Golf  by Council. The current investment
request before the council represents the first of  5 phases for the future development of Lady
Bird.  With regard to the pools, Council
did not publish a long term strategic operational plan or a plan for
integrating the pools with other recreational resources.

 

6.  Lady Bird Golf Course offers programming.  City staff provide lessons, junior golf
opportunities, catering, competition support, charity sponsorship, and partnerships
with local business to name a few.  In
contrast, as presented, the pool proposal did  offered no programming and in fact expected
all programming to come from volunteers and non professional seasonal hires.

 

7.  The Golf Course has put forth definite plans
to work with many other community resources to support business and
tourism,  juniors, and the
environment.  A Wine-Golf event focused on bringing visitors for two
nights is  already scheduled.  The
Pool proposal had no specific plans for such community engagement.

 

8.  The Golf Course, fortunately,  has a revenue stream.  FOLB has always supported a sustainable budget.  The assumptions for increased revenues
inherent in the Master Plan are felt by experts to be quite conservative, but
still reach budget neutrality within five years.  Obviously,
because of the different nature and target audience, the revenue from our
pools will provide only a portion of the cost of operations.  Even so, the pool project did not propose any
new revenue pieces such as family and corporate memberships, rental for private
parties, outside support of  swimming
competition, detailed assumptions on revenues from concessions etc.

 

8.  The Department of Golf course has
professional management. As part of the long term planning process undertaken
by Council which solicited assistance from the PGA Placement service, Alan was
hired. He has already demonstrated his ability to maximize value of the current
budget and labor force.   As proposed the
pools project did not include a specific aquatic management.

 

9.  Lady Bird has an official champion authorized
by Council: FOLB. The pool does not yet have a champion to engender community
involvement.  Perhaps Council might
consider promoting such an organization.

 

 

 

 

5.  Funding:   The reason I
bring these issues to your attention tonight is to allow us to deal with the
real conundrum:  how to fund improvements
at Lady Bird.  I, for one, am not an
expert in municipal finance and have no basis for making a recommendation.  Similarly, I do not believe that Council has
yet had sufficient input from staff and the public to form an opinion on what
to do.  Unlike the Master Plan for Lady
Bird, there has not yet been an in depth look at the funding possibilities
available to us.

 

There are several options including such as the
establishment of an Economic Investment Fund
as Kerrville did to provide renovation of Shreiner Golf Course.  Other possibilities might include internal
borrowing from other city departments, use of cash on hand to fund some or all
of the phase I improvements, leveraging the amount provided in the avigation
easement settlement, private financing through local or regional banks, revenue
bonds dependent on the income stream from the golf course and another city
owned revenue stream, matching grants from individuals or public resources,
etc.  In fact, a creative combination of
these funding systems could be used.

 

We would suggest that Council consider as many
funding scenarios as possible and that each should receive complete
vetting..  These possible funding
alternatives should be presented in a completely transparent and understandable
manner to the public.    Perhaps Council might consider holding at
least one public hearing or Town Hall meeting to take input and suggestions
from the citizen.

 

Thank you for allowing
me to speak with you and thank you for taking the time to consider in dept the
proposal before you.

 

 

 

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