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Palm Coast Government Absorbs Golf Course’s Employees and Contracts With Golden Lion In Latest Attempt to Stem Losses

| August 15, 2017

Still waiting after all these years. (© FlaglerLive)

The Palm Coast City Council this morning approved a pair of contracts that the city hopes will be the next-best thing to diminishing, or at least dissimulating, financial losses at the city-owned Palm Harbor Golf Club, which has been losing money, at taxpayers’ expense, since its inception in 2009.


The council approved a lease agreement with Flagler Beach’s Golden Lion restaurant’s owners, who will run the Palm Harbor concessions and bar as the Green Lion, and will do so by paying the city $500 a month.

The council also approved a contract for groundskeeping and maintenance of the golf course with Billy Casper Golf, Inc., a national golf course management company based in Reston, Va. The contract doesn’t include a bottom-line dollar figure, which suggests it would be open-ended, with Casper required to submit invoices monthly for services rendered. City Manager Jim Landon told the council that “the estimate for this program is about $630,000 a year. The idea is that we believe it will be more efficient this way than what we did with Kemper.”

KemperSports, the management firm in charge of the golf course since 2009, will be ending its presence at the course and at the city’s tennis club later this month. The city hopes to save some money by no longer having to pay Kemper a management fee, among other costs. But the city has already hired eight of Kemper’s employees, thus considerably expanding the city’s payroll. Those employees will continue doing what they did under Kemper, tending to golf carts, the front desk and so on.

The cost to the city of employing the new workers would be in addition to the contract with Casper Golf. The city will now take in the revenue from green fees directly.

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The city’s budget projected $787,000 in salaries and wages for golf course employees this year.

The cost the city will shoulder by taking on Kemper employees will be added to the cost of the contract with Casper, for a total cost to the city of $1.4 million. But the labor cost in the current budget represents the totality of employment at the golf course, and Palm Coast is only absorbing a portion of those employees, so the cost to the city should be lower.

Asked for details about the city’s absorption, a city spokesperson conveyed the following statement from Wendy Cullen, the city’s human resources director: “We have not yet finished staffing the golf course. Current Kemper employees who have applied are all being considered for positions with the City. Currently there are 8 or 9 in the on-boarding process for Facility/Guest Attendant and Golf Cart Attendant/Starter. The positions are all part-time, non-benefits eligible, so providing an annual salary will be dependent upon the number of hours worked. Starting rate for the Facility/Guest Attendant is $15.30 and Golf Cart Attendant/Starter is $12.86.”

The city was projecting revenue at the golf course of $1.2 million this year.

In 2015, the city stopped accounting for the golf and tennis clubs as separate “enterprise” funds, set up as such independently from other city operations, and intended to operate on their own, supported by their own revenue—like the utility department or the stormwater fund, which have their own sources of revenue. Tennis and golf never made money, so the city folded them into its parks and recreations department, thus making the losses less glaring, since the two operations were now part of the general fund. That fund had subsidized them all along, through transfers. The subsidy was now more direct. But with Kemper still running the operations, the losses were still glaring. Now, with the city running all but the concessions and groundskeeping, the operations will look more like an integral part of the parks and recreation operation even though use of the two facilities is fee-based, unlike all other parks in the city.

The food and drinks operation had previously been under Kemper. It will now be an independent entity at the golf course, with Green Lion assuming responsibilities for spiffing up the facility (it expects to invest about $100,000 to that end, according to the city’s Beau Falgout) and reaping whatever revenue it generates there. Its $500 a month lease agreement is modeled after the county’s arrangement with Captain’s BBQ at Bings Landing in the Hammock, when it opened in 2011. The arrangement there was for $500 a month, then an additional $30 a month each subsequent year. Palm Coast will add $25 in each subsequent year’s lease at the golf course.

The food operation is not expected to be a big money-maker. “If we make any money from rent that’s more than what the concession currently makes under Kemper,” Falgout said. However, Green Lion expects to open a bar there, which could improve revenue considerably. But the operation will have to make it on its own, without city subsidies, as had been the case with Kemper’s concessions.

The concessions area is expected to open in September. Former Mayor Jon Netts addressed the council to share his concern that workers in the concessions area, who have not been hired by the city, should not be out of work for longer than necessary as Green Lion prepares to open. Green Lion is expected to interview those employees and possibly employ some of them. “There are people who routinely use that facility,” he said–himself among them.

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27 Responses for “Palm Coast Government Absorbs Golf Course’s Employees and Contracts With Golden Lion In Latest Attempt to Stem Losses”

  1. Lonzo brown says:

    Hope the rich people enjoy the golf course us tax payers are providing

  2. Ray D says:

    Sell it.it’s a lousy layout. You can’t change that about it. Unload that tennis center too.

  3. Sw says:

    Cant make this up. Whst were you folks not thinking. Lmao. City get out of the golf course business. Sell it and build on it.Do something… Smh

  4. Jill Madden says:

    The fees to golf there are some of the lowest around..and its a quality course . Why is it people always assume only “rich people” golf? A county owned course allows those of us that aren’t wealthy to enjoy the sport. The county provides and maintains many forms of recreation for its citizens . And a quality golf course brings added visitors to the area. I’m a working class guy -as are many of my friends who frequent this course. Bravo to Golden Lion! We couldn’t be more excited 😊.

  5. Jill Madden says:

    “Build on it “???? Build what-more overpriced condos or houses??? Our county is slowly turning around from the crash…..patience people…..patience.

  6. fishflats says:

    Government cannot run a business, period. Palm Coast taxpayers need to demand that the City divest all non-governmental holdings, including the golf course and immediately reduce current year property taxes as a result of the cash flow generated. Otherwise they will convince themselves that due to their superior business acumen they have generated this huge cash surplus and deserve big bonuses and base pay increases.

  7. palmcoaster says:

    Our Palm Harbor Golf Course is an amenity to our city that adds eye catching beauty and a gracious revenue generating sport plus very important preserving the value of hundreds if not more, of homes adjacent to the golf course and added value to our city.
    We, in this side of Palm Coast also pay taxes into the millions to build and maintain all the parks like Holland Park 6 millions plus, Water Front Park, Long Creek Preserve Park, Carter Park and the addition to the schools sport complex for the La Crose competition for our students all into the millions and millions. So then what is the problem with our taxes also sustaining our Tennis and Golf Course.. is not for the rich people as portrayed? Maybe cost me for my home realty tax 8 to 10 dollars a year until now to sustain both courses? Well is money well spent. What is wrong with the detractors of our two courses here, aren’t my taxes also paying for the amenities or sports that you or your children enjoy? Hello? Do you all want to destroy what was here and was built by ITT to attract us all to buy these properties for the sports amenities; boating, fishing, tennis, golf, etc. etc. and then what, become a slum? We live in a beautiful landscaped and bloomed city that excels above any other around, with sport amenities and long walkways and bike paths to keep ourselves healthy, fit and safe , do we want it to become and ugly looking slum by penny pinching our taxes for this yes and for that no? I applaud the city elected and administration to keep working hard at keeping our sports amenities, Tennis and Golf also open to all.

  8. palmcoaster says:

    Great Jill Madden many of our service workers and their bosses that I personally know in this city and county that are very far from being rich play golf in our Palm Harbor Golf Course, simply because is here in the center of our city were they reside and is affordable! So stop stigmatizing our Palm Harbor Golf Course and its aficionados! I don’t play golf but I like to see them play with no resentment at all! Lower our taxes…? Look around and see how much they pay in our surrounding cities….do not confuse PC taxes with what we pay to the county read your house tax bill correctly line by line and learn to who we really overpay…the county!

  9. Veteran says:

    Sell it and open Matanzas Woods. It is one of the best courses in North FL. I hope they hire better greens keepers. The greens suck. Wow, $12.86 to put my bag on the cart plus free golf. I was making less than that to run a high speed printer at Palm Coast Data. Don’t think I’ll be tipping anymore!

  10. Lou says:

    I purchased my house in Palm Coast only for climate, low tax and recriation facilities Palm Coast offered.
    That means TENNIS AND GOLF.
    I have no kids in the school system but I am paying school tax so your kids have a school to go to.

  11. GY says:

    Yes, patience please. More boxy houses and more construction will bring more traffic and dangerous driving conditions. Enough with the building.

  12. palmcoaster says:

    By the way regarding where the rich people really play in Flagler County and Palm Coast..?
    Well, the really wealthy play in Hammock Dunes or Hammock Beach Golf Courses, the aspiring almost rich play The Conservatory Course, the wishing one day to be rich play the Grand Haven Course, The one’s that can’t afford HOA fees play the Pine Lake course (if still open not sure) and all else including our (not longer mine) school children enjoy the affordability of our Palm Harbor Golf Course deeded to our city by Centex thru the successful brokering of city manager Jim Landon and the voices of hundreds of adjacent affected home owners demanding the reopening of the course. We fought really hard for our PHGC and we are not about to let it become a landfill or development. We do not need anymore housing were the course is located, as we lack the proper infrastructure to sustain them starting with sewer, drainage and roads.So please lets be very careful what we wish for…

  13. woody says:

    Stem losses?That’s all this this city knows how to do.We WERE getting interest on a big loan but we had to cash that in for the ridiculous town hall that taxpayer’s voted down numerous times.Dump it, sell it,just get rid of it.

  14. Dan Potter says:

    The job of government is to govern. What lunatic reasoning got Palm Coast into this normally private enterprise. Government is not able to run a business.

  15. Shark says:

    Another Landon – white elephant !!!

  16. Walter troeger says:

    Property taxes will go up for sure now.
    And what benefit is this for the majority of the residents that don’t play golf? Nothing shelling out more $ in taxes.

  17. Alphonso Zeimers says:

    Thank God for useless government. This town would be far better off with no one in charge of anything. The residents could get along fine all by themselves.

  18. Ray D says:

    Palm Coast has shown that they are unable to effectively contract with the private sector to operate this facility. It needs to at least break even or sell it to a private entity. The same goes for that tennis center. There are plenty of higher rated and less expensive courses in the area. Grand Reserve is a much higher rated and less expensive course as is Riverbend as well as Halifax and the St John’s county course. Not everyone plays golf and tennis and certainly others should not have to subsidize those that want to use municipal golf and tennis facilities when other superior private facilities are available. Raise the user fees to break even or sell it to an interested private party. This is a case of good money after bad unless it breaks even.

  19. Palm Coast Pioneers says:

    The Palm Coast Golf Club, a.k.a. Palm Harbor Golf Club was the Master Developers’ Levitt & I.T.T. pledged Amenity for me / us.
    It is also encumbered by a Federal Consent Agreement – F.T.C. Docket C-2854 and it is named and specified within the Federal ‘ Exhibits ‘ of the Federally ORDERED ‘ ‘ 15 Year Compliance Report “.
    It is part of the Federally ORDERED ‘…significant areas of Preservation..’, ‘ significant areas of Conservation’, and ‘significant areas of Recreation’. These encumberances ensure that the Federally ORDERED ‘ Redress’ for me / us was provided.
    The Formal Application for ‘ Historic Status’ was sent to the State of Florida Historic Preservation Offices ,by me, on Friday, March 24, 2017 1:39 PM

    See:

    Florida Master Site File
    Site Number Assignment
    Site # CR Type Date Assigned Staff Client Org. Site Name
    FL00931 RG 3/24/2017 EMV The Palm Harbor Golf Club
    1 Site Number(s) Assigned.

    Above, the FL stands for ‘ Flagler County ‘. The Assigned Number 000931 stands for the numberical sequence. RG stands for ‘ Resource Group’.

    I started the process , started sending the required documentation to the State of Florida Historic Specialists. Our Showcase Golf Course Neighborhood group after discussion presented all this documentation for the Palm Coast Historic Society . We felt that since it is the City of Palm Coast Historic Society and the Acreage was City of Palm Coast Owned that the Society would/ should be the ones continuing on this rather than us.

    If the newer Palm Coasters want to see more of our other Accomplishments – google Historic Marker Database and enter ‘ Palm Coast’.

    Once completed , ( a long process) , that opens the doors for Donations / Contributions / Grants and , is Approved by the Stat of Florida Historic Specialists that opens another door , that is, eventual inclusion in the State of Florida Historic Golf Trail.

    I hope this provides a nice ‘ sense of place’ for the Newer and present Palm Coasters.
    Thank You very much.

  20. Ws says:

    The people who want to sell it, then lets get rid of all the parks too.Oh and I mean all of them. Let’s sell everything off so we have nothing left. If we don’t need the golf course we don’t need any parks either. I would rather pay taxes for that golf course and not lay taxes for all the parks that we surely do not need. Also, stop complaining about our taxes when our taxes in Palm Coast are very reasonable. Maybe you people should check around the state and see what taxes really are elsewhere. If you don’t like the taxes here, maybe you should move away from Palm Coast. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of people happy to move here and take your place. It would be nice for once to see some positive comments instead of ridiculous, negative nonsense.

  21. joe says:

    “The positions are all part-time, non-benefits eligible, so providing an annual salary will be dependent upon the number of hours worked.”
    And so the Republican economy goes…on and on.

  22. Anonymous says:

    It’s only money….when the city runs short they just rob Peter to pay Paul. They seem to have the thought process that money flows in like water, the more they spend, the more they raise our taxes. A forensic audit needs to be done on the city and county!

  23. Veteran says:

    Walter the golf course will maybe cost you $10 a year. I pay more than half my taxes for you kids to go to school. Suck it up.

  24. Veteran says:

    More people use the golf course than the city parks, but we pay big bucks to maintain the parks with no income.

  25. palmcoaster says:

    Right on Veteran!! Correct! I also have no children and never complain that half my taxes go to the schools .
    I also never complain of all the millions used to build and maintain our many parks and walkways , then those clamors for doing away with the tennis and golf course for the meager few dollars that cost us a year that are $10 or less need to get a life.

  26. Tom Cowan says:

    I grew up playing municipal golf courses in Jacksonville. Would never have had a chance to learn the game without those facilities. My four grown children are now playing those facilities in Jacksonville. I am a tax-paying resident of the Hammock. I would not be able to play a game I love (and want to continue playing right into retirement) without courses like Palm Harbor. I have worked in the golf maintenance business for 40 years, and can echo the remarks that many of your local residents have made….Cudos to the job that they do at Palm Harbor for our enjoyment. I was distraught when they closed the Ponce and caved to developers…Have you driven by that historic site lately?? Just be glad our city fathers have the vision to fight for their historic gem. There is a fine group of dedicated professionals running Palm Harbor. The city should do all they can to keep that maintenance group intact!!

  27. Anonymous says:

    Build a miniature golf course for the kids so they can have a place to learn how to play golf and then they can use the big golf courses when They get older and bring in money , if they decide to stay in this sorry city after college where jobs pay peanuts for a salary

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