By Nok-Noi Hauger of the news staff - DEXTER - What to do with the Dexter Municipal Golf Course has become a hot topic in town ever since Dexter Shoe Co. closed its doors in 2001. The problem is that the course is running in the red.
"We're not making enough revenue to offset the cost of operations," said Town Manager Bob Simpson about the town-owned nine-hole course. "There has been a $20,000 to $30,000 difference between revenues and expenses for the course. The actual expenses for 2002 were $82,112 and the actual revenues for last year were $51,107, so the difference was around $31,000."
During 2001 the expenses were $80,641 and the revenues were $55,895: a $25,000 difference. In 2002, the deficiency was $20,000.
Now the council has to decide whether the town should sell the golf course, lease it, or continue running the facility. The council formed the Dexter Golf Course board of directors to research the issue for the town. At Thursday's Town Council meeting, the committee gave a presentation on what it recommends.
"We'd like to continue right now to keep the golf course operating," chair of the board John Novak said.
The committee, which formed in June, would like time to see whether advertising and membership drives will increase revenues enough to cover costs.
"We're all kind of new at this," Novak said. "We've got a lot of energy. We're all golfers, of course, and that's something we want to project to the council. We're just looking to let people know this golf course is here."
To accomplish this goal, Novak said, several businesses have agreed to produce advertising brochures and coupons to entice people to hit the links in Dexter.
"They came up with $7,000 to $8,000 in annual savings [recommendations]," said Simpson of the advisory board of directors. "They think they can increase revenues and cut expenses. They've requested from the council to give them a couple years to work with the town and golf course manager to improve the profit-versus-expenses margin."
The council will make a definitive decision on the matter in the near future, said Simpson.
"I anticipate at the November meeting [the councilors] will set the course for the direction they want to go," the town manager said. "That should set the course for our golf course for the immediate future."
"It's totally in their hands," said Novak. "I would just like to see the town support this. It's something that is kind of back burner with the existing issues going on with Dexter Shoe leaving. That hurt this town pretty badly. It's tough."
Dexter lost about 500 shoe worker jobs when Dexter Shoe Co. ceased its manufacturing operations in town at the end of 2001. Novak said he'd like to continue to have a golf course in his back yard.
"It's a nice place and it has a lot to offer. It is a draw," he said. "I'd like to think it can become a self-sufficient operation."
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