LAKE BLUFF — The Lake Bluff Park District is examining the future of its golf course and other facilities via a three-pronged study that includes a survey of residents, an analysis of services through an outside consultant, and a financial study by outside accountants.
The golf course is getting special attention because the Board of Commissioners asked Park District Executive Director Ron Salski and his staff to help determine if Billy Casper Golf, now in its second year of a three-year contract, is effective.
For the 2015 golf season, the last one operated completely by the park district, Salski said the negative cash flow after all fees were collected was $492,046. That includes all cash outlays such as capital expenditures and pension contributions.
During Casper’s first year for the 2016 golf season, the loss was $364,311, Salski said, adding that it will be somewhat more this year because of time lost to flooding in July as well as increased maintenance arising from water damage.
“We’re very pleased with the marketing. They improved the revenue. They found every possible way to bring people to the golf course,” Salski said of Casper’s performance. Billy Casper Golf operates the course and the Park District handles maintenance.
Salski said the golf club competes with 35 courses in a 10-mile radius.
Public opinion will be measured by a community survey that is a joint venture between the park district, village and Lake Bluff School District 65. The three entities are dividing the $32,000 cost evenly. Salski said he hopes the results will be available in December.
The second part of the long-term effort is an analysis by outside consultants looking at all facets of the park district’s programming, services and facilities.
“They’re going to look at all of our assets; the golf course, paddle tennis, fitness, the pool, everything,” Salski said. “This will help us determine what we do next with each. Do we keep it, do we outsource or do we divest.”
The service study will cost $38,000. Salski said he hopes to have the results in January. At this point the only thing handled by an outside company is the golf course. He said nothing is predetermined.
Along with the service study will be a long-term financial analysis by Sikich LLP, an accounting firm. Salski said the firm will look at a general economic overview of all assets. It will also look at both the operating and long-term capital needs of the golf course in particular.
“This will give us a long-term financial sustainability plan, which we need and owe to the community,” Salski said. “There are no plans to eliminate anything now.”