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Waste Watch: Smyrna Golf Course

Updated: Monday, March 3 2014, 10:18 PM CST
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Waste Watch: Smyrna Golf Course & Town Centre

Stacy Case

   In tonight's Waste Watch , we take a close look at two attractions in Smyrna you help pay for,  the city's golf course and its banquet and workout center known as Smyrna Town Centre.
    Both are in the red and have been for years.
   Some taxpayers like Doug Miller say these are luxuries taxpayers shouldn't be subsidizing, " I live on a fixed income and if I need an extra $50 a month I can't go out and raise taxes for myself."

  The Smyrna Town Centre loses anywhere from  $100 thousand to $165 thousand dollars every year. 
     Miller's still a little sour about Smyrna's leaders trying to raise property taxes nearly 50% last year.   So, is local businessman Jeff Hollingshead who runs Smyrna Ready Mix.
   He says if the Smyrna Town Centre is booked up as it says it is, management should raise rates to cover expenditures instead of expecting taxpayers to pick up the slack.
  Total loss for the Smyrna Town Center, which hosts banquets, a work out facility and recreation area?  $732 thousand taxpayer dollars over six years.
    Smyrna's golf course too has a track record in the red losing more than $400 thousand last year.

   Hollingshead's family runs a golf course too,  so he has a problem with taxpayers subsidizing Smyrna's course. It's been $1.6 million dollars in the hole over six years.  He asks, "Is our pricing sturcture right? Are we using equipment correctly? All these things you have to do when you own and operate a golf course."

   Although he's only been on the job three months, Smyrna town manager Harry Gill discussed how Smyrna's addressing the losses---- The Town Center first.
    He says the losses concern him too and that's why he and the mayor have put an action plan in place to curb the deficits.
  That action plan included a trip to nearby Coffee County to visit a similar city for ideas and a new plan with its food service provider that runs the gamut.
   He explains how the Town Centre's food service provider is helping implement the action plan, "They're helping us with pricing, personnel issues,  putting together different  banquet menus, perhaps charging different gratuities at banquets."

   The action plan's been in place just 20 days.  Fox 17's Waste Watch will follow any cost cutting results.

   As far as the golf course deficit? Gill's not sure it will ever be a profit center, but says he sees it like ball fields and tennis courts.  Something a city needs for quality of life.  He says the golf course and town centre have become a political hot potato.

   The Town of Smyrna starts off $144 thousand in the hole with its lease payment to the Smyrna airport authority for the course. He also says the private sector charges higher rates and membership fees so there's no comparison to Smyrna's public course.
  Gill says it's all about accessibility for Smyrna residents and though he's open to ideas,  he doesn't want to price people out of play.

 The town manager also points out the city gives breaks to civic groups, non profits, and military members at the town centre and doesn't charge school teams and other kid organizations to use the golf course.
   He says they'd all be priced out of private facilities. Waste Watch: Smyrna Golf Course

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