City operation of Elbel could produce $200,000 deficit

The decision not to sell Elbel Golf Course could be a costly one for South Bend.

The administration now projects that Elbel will rack up a $200,000 deficit in 2016 if it continues to be run by the city.

“It was one of those scenarios well why pour extra money into your car if you might be getting a new one six months from now,” explained South Bend Park Department Director Aaron Perri. “We budgeted to operate the course this year but you know everything was conservative spending conservative spending, over the past couple years with this ambiguous future of the course. When we hear we got another year ahead of us, we're going to need to put a little bit more than we budgeted into it.”

The administration is now requesting an additional appropriation of $68,000 to take care of some basic course maintenance. “The $68,000 special appropriation is to rebuild a lot of the tee boxes, repair a lot of the greens that have been, I don't want to call it neglected necessarily but that have been conservatively attended to,” said Perri.

It’s also projected that the high profile debate over the future of the course will cause a steep drop in rounds and revenue.

The additional appropriation request is one of two Elbel related items filed before the Common Council. The other calls for a concentrated effort to come up with a ‘plan B’ for Elbel.

“We have to decide whether golf is going to happen this upcoming season and who is going to be behind the counter. Whether it will be a private lease partner or if it would be you know, ran in house through the parks department an employee behind there,” said 4th District Democrat Jo Broden.

Broden is the sponsor of a resolution that would create a five member Special Elbel Advisory Committee. The committee would feature three members of the South Bend Common Council, and one member of the South Bend Board of Park Commissioners. The fifth member would be appointed by the mayor.
“The challenge now is to make sure we balance a lot of things, the interests of golfers, the interests of preservation and the interests of the city in making sure what we do is financially right,” Mayor Pete Buttigieg said on 16 Morning News.

The committee would have a maximum of 45 days to come up with its recommendation.

“I think it’s great at this point we're pausing and recognize the need for a pause in that process, but I do think we need to be really responsible with this particularly large asset and make a very good informed decision,” said Broden.