Claremore Daily Progress

June 26, 2013

Golf course financial future could be a bit over par

Salesha Wilken
Claremore Progress

CLAREMORE —

The financial health of Heritage Hills Golf Course will be discussed during a Rogers County Public Facilities Authority meeting at 3 p.m. Thursday in the commissioner’s meeting room in the courthouse.
The Public Facilities Authority is a trust that operates the golf course  in Claremore.
The board met  in April and May to discuss an ongoing issue with the finances of the trust as the golf course continues to operate at a yearly loss, according to Course Manager Dave Wilbur.
The loss is due to the depreciation of assets, not incoming cash flow, he added.
The number of golfers playing the course is on decline, partially due to weather, according to reports.
Former course participants contribute the decline to a decrease in operating hours and services offered to players.
The discussion has been prompted due to the golf course’s decline in revenue as trust members reported a concern in April for the long-term feasibility of operations.
The trustees recently approved the refinance of bank loans, secured by course assets to decrease monthly expenses.
The trust is currently in debt for approximately $500,000 that has been incurred to make capital improvements and purchase equipment, according to Wilbur.
A 2009 appraisal values the golf course at approximately $3.5 million.
Operating with a low debt and high asset value, the financial health of the trust appears to be good.
Wilbur previously stated he was unsure if the course would be operating in the next five years.
However, in an interview with the Claremore Daily Progress, he clarified the remarks.
It is not that the course will be out of business in five years, it will be if the course can generate enough income for improvements, Wilbur said.
The trust has been borrowing money to overcome a decline in revenue and to meet improvement expenses, he added.
During the past two monthly meetings, the trustees have discussed an interest in improving facilities and increasing revenues for the course.
The trust members have questioned the financial decline, which has been attributed directly to depreciation of assets and poor weather by Wilbur.
In 2011, the trust’s total operating revenue was $749,669 and expenses were $757,926 creating a net operating loss of $8,256, according to audit reports.
The 2010 operating revenue was $736,265 and expenses were $741,285. The 2012 audit reports scheduled to be reviewed Thursday, however it is not clear if the net operating loss trend will continue.
Another ongoing debate is ownership and beneficiary of the property. The golf course is listed as a trust of Rogers County, according to county records.
Formerly owned by Rogers State College Authority, the golf course was transferred to Rogers County in 1973. The trust instrument was amended in 1994, later prompting civil action against the Rogers State College Board of Regents in case CJ-97-203.
Currently, the trustees of the public facilities authority have requested Assistant District Attorney David Iski provide a legal opinion concerning the issue.
The board is trying to determine the correct beneficiary of the trust.
If the trust dissolves in the future or receives an offer for purchase, the beneficiary would receive any profit of that action.
The Claremore Daily Progress was unable to locate, with the assistance of the office of County Clerk Robin Anderson, recent financial records for the trust.
Wilbur maintains records for the trust at his office in the Golf Pro shop, where records were made available for public inspection.
Current trustees include David Merriman, Todd Willhoite, Jim Sullivan, Bill Scullawl, Gary Easley, Mike Ramsey, Mick Webber, Herb McSpadden, John Bivins, Terry Wessel, Phil Walker, Denny Kochheiser, Mary Marshall and Rick Tabor, according to documents filed with the clerk dated November 2012.