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Sager Talks About New Golf Course Equipment at Mayor's Quarterly Coffee
By Brittany Tutt, CT
April 14, 2015

CAPTION: Pictured is Green Hills Golf Course employee, Adam Campbell, mowing the course's greens. Campbell is mowing with the course's new electric mower which works much faster and more efficiently than their old mowers.

CT Photo / Brittany Tutt

Craig Sager, Green Hills Golf Course general manager, attended the Mayor's Quarterly Coffee on April 8, 2015, to talk about the new golf course equipment that recently arrived at the course at the end of March. Sager said the course was in great need of new maintenance equipment because they were sinking a lot of money into the upkeep of the equipment, and the equipment wasn't efficient anymore. The pieces of equipment Sager was most excited to receive were the Electric Green Mowers. These mowers run on water and batteries, which will save the golf course a lot of money on fuel and hydraulic fluid. This all electric mower is considered the "mower of the future," according to Sager. The Green Hills Golf Course is one of the first golf courses in the area to get one of these electric mowers. These electric mowers also work faster than the old mowers. With the old mowers, it took three and a half days for staff to mow the ruffs, and the old mowers leaked about $20 worth of hydraulic fuel per day. With the new electric mowers, the ruffs get mowed in two and a half days, saving staff a whole day's worth of mowing. Sager is also excited about the spray mower the golf course received. This new sprayer has speed control and GPS. The best part of the new sprayer, according to Sager, is that it only "sprays when you want it to," unlike the golf course's old sprayer that leaked everywhere and killed the course's grass. The golf course is now saving money on chemicals by doing away with the old, leaky equipment. Sager said all the new equipment also has saved them a lot of money on payroll, because the golf course was having to hire people to come in to help repair equipment. The golf course employees are also happier now that they have new equipment because they get to spend more time on the greens and less time in the shop helping with repairs. The golf course is also undergoing what Sager thinks will be a two-year project. They are currently renovating all the bunkers, little by little, as time allows. They are taking it one bunker at a time, and the course has 20 plus bunkers total. The golf course is also hoping to have their practice facility seeded the first of May for people to use in the fall, and they are planning to bring back some tall, native grass to the course in the future.

The Green Hills Golf Course's "Senior Play," has been very popular. They usually have about 40 seniors come out every Tuesday to play. "It's organized chaos at best but it's fun," Sager said. They are now going to offer "Senior Play" on Fridays as well as Tuesdays. Sager's goal is to have about 50 seniors come on Tuesdays and Fridays to golf.

The golf course is also starting to get more recognition from nearby high schools. The North Mercer High School golf team recently came to the Green Hills Golf Course for a day of practice because their golf course doesn't have a driving range. Trenton and Hamilton's high schools have also used the practice facility. In fact, Hamilton will even be hosting their district play at the Green Hills Golf Course this year.

Excerpt Council Meeting April 13, 2015 - The council passed a resolution authorizing an interfund loan from the sales tax capital improvement fund to the general fund in the amount of $253,715 to be used for the purchase of golf course equipment and establishing repayment terms. The agreement calls for the balance to be paid back in five equal payments, with an interest of 1.7 percent. The resolution passed 4-1, with 2nd Ward Councilman Wayne Cunning voting against the measure, stating that there should not be an interest rate assessed on the loan.

Council Approves Purchase of Golf Course Equipment
Feb. 24, 2015

The city-owned Green Hills Golf Course will receive $253,715 in new groundskeeping equipment to replace equipment that is between 10 and 17 years old. Chillicothe City Council members during their regular meeting Monday evening at City Hall noted that the equipment replacement is long overdue and that some should have been replaced in previous years so as not to put a financial burden on the city all at once. Second Ward Councilman Wayne Cunningham lobbied for purchasing just a couple pieces of equipment, citing that he did not want to obligate future city councils to the large equipment purchase. He made the motion to table discussions for two weeks until after council members talked with their constituents; however, his motion died for the lack of a second, and the council proceeded to vote on an ordinance approving the purchase of all the equipment. The measure passed 4-1 with Cunningham casting the dissenting vote. Those voting in favor were Councilman-at-Large David Moore, 1st Ward Councilman Reed Dupy, Third Ward Councilman Tom Douglas and 4th Ward Councilman Paul Howard. The ordinance calls for the purchase of a Cushman heavy duty utility vehicle, two 48-volt, all-electric greens mowers; two gas-powered reel mowers to serve as tee and approach units, two diesel-powered reel mowers to serve as fairway units, and one large area rotary mower to serve as a rough unit for the golf course. The bid was accepted from Kansas Golf and Turf. The issue of new golf course equipment was discussed at length during the council's meeting two weeks ago and again during a workshop just prior to Monday night's meeting. Rather than leasing the equipment, an idea that was proposed at the previous meeting, council members agreed that the money should be borrowed from the city's capital improvements fund. That fund's balance currently is $988,887. By purchasing the equipment, the city won't need to pay interest to an outside company. Golf Course Manager Craig Sager told the council members that the purchase would be a substantial investment in the golf course but said it is necessary. "(The current equipment) is not only aging, but it hinders what we can do day in and day out," he said. "There are a couple pieces that just aren't safe."

Cunningham indicated there were other financial needs in the community. "I have people in my ward who need storm sewers," he said. "When it rains, they get water in their garages, in their houses, in their basements. They need curbs on their streets." Cunningham said he had viewed the course's existing equipment. "Some of it is beyond repair," he said. "Some of it can be repaired." He noted that the city is subsidizing the golf course this year in the area of $175,000. "If we approve all of this equipment, that is going to be an additional obligation of $250,000," he said. "The idea is to pull the money out of the capital improvements fund and loan it to the golf course; but, how is the golf course going to be able to pay it back? I would like to see us buy some equipment and repair part of the equipment. If we do this, we are going to obligate $50,000 to $60,000 every year for five years to make a payment on golf course equipment. I don't feel it is fair to anyone else elected to this position to obligate them for five years on down the line, especially for this equipment that not everybody is going to use."

Douglas stated that the community supports the golf course. "When the golf course got into trouble to begin with, we brought it to the people," he recalled. "Overwhelmingly, they voted to buy the golf course. Later on, we brought it to them to see if we could use the capital improvements fund to pay the golf course off. Overwhelmingly, they got behind it." "This golf course had started to run down for a lot of years," Douglas added. "If we don't buy this equipment, we're going to lose rounds, and if we lose rounds, that will put us deeper in debt."

Moore, who also serves as the city's finance chairman, acknowledges that the equipment would be a large purchase. "One of the ideas was to use the money from the capital improvements fund," Moore said. "Instead of doing a lease with the company that would involve us paying interest, we would loan money from the capital improvements fund that has funds to make the purchase, and then make the golf course make its payments back to the capital improvements fund so we don't have to pay interest to an outside company. "I do believe some of blame is on the council, previous councils, maybe even previous management of the golf course," Moore said. "I'm not sure why this equipment is so old."

Councilman Dupy was in favor of the equipment purchase, noting that the golf course is part of the recreational package of the community. "Not everybody uses all the baseball parks, the swimming pool... but, it all goes together, although not everybody uses every piece of that pie," he said.

City Considers New Golf Course Equipment
February 12, 2015 CT

Chillicothe officials reviewed a bid submitted for golf course equipment this week but took no immediate action, pending budget considerations. Green Hills Golf Course Manager Craig Sager presented the bid to City Council members during their regular meeting Monday evening at City Hall. The bid calls for a five-year lease of a Cushman heavy duty utility vehicle, two 48-volt, all-electric greens mowers, two gas-powered reel mowers to serve as tee and approach units, two diesel-powered reel mowers to serve as fairway units, and one large area rotary mower to serve as a rough unit. One company, Kansas Golf and Turf, bid on the entire package in the amount of $253,715, with various payment options available. Another company bid only on the large rotary mower. A third company contacted the city expressing interest only after the bids were opened on Feb. 5. Sager said the golf course equipment is aging and necessitating more man hours and dollars for repairs. "The stuff we have is just bleeding cash right now," Sager said. "Do you want us to use this equipment that is aging and aging fast and keep pumping money into it... or do we step up and get the new equipment?"

Much discussion took place whether to spend money and time to repair old equipment as the start of the golf season nears, or spend more money and purchase new equipment. The council ultimately gave a consensus with a 4-1 vote for the administrator and golf course manager to bring the bid back to the council for consideration if it fits within the city's budget. The matter is expected to be revisited at the council's next meeting on Monday, February 23.

City Administrator Ike Holland advocated to replace the current equipment, noting that the availability of the current equipment dictates what work can be done on the course. "You can imagine if we had the same dilemma in the street department, police department, fire department... Our equipment status starts to dictate what we can and cannot do. Equipment is not the same as people, but it can have the same impact on the quality of work, the quality of service and quality of product we provide in any department. We can either replace the equipment now, or spend a substantial amount in repairs, and we'll have (an employee) in the shop (making repairs) instead of out on the golf course." Second Ward Councilman Wayne Cunningham did not support the consensus to review the golf equipment bid. He acknowledged Sager's and Holland's concerns over aging equipment but expressed his own concerns about available funding. "I think you have the need for the equipment," Cunningham said. "Do we have the finances and the ability to buy all this equipment at once right now? I don't know." Cunningham asked Sager to prioritize the equipment needs as an alternative to getting all new equipment. "This is a lot of money all at one time," Cunningham said. "Can you guarantee me that the irrigation pump is not going to go out next summer? And, we have greens that are over $200,000 or more out there. Where are we going to come up with all the money to put in another pump? We have to be cautious about the amount of money we spend."

Councilman-at-Large David Moore stated that the city is faced with whether to pursue new equipment or fix the old equipment. "If we spend $30,000 fixing the old equipment, we still have old equipment," Moore said. "We enter the season with this old equipment and not knowing what kind of expense we can have throughout the season for further repairs; not to mention the fact that we would be down equipment in the midst of the season when we needed to be functioning. Not knowing what can happen with that old equipment is the reason why I am more interested in pursuing new equipment." City Auditor Theresa Kelly voiced concerns that the General Fund would not have sufficient revenues to subsidize the golf course another $50,000-plus for the next five years. "The General Fund typically transfers $100,000 per year for the operation of the golf course and will most likely have to transfer $150,000 for the current 2014-15 fiscal year," she said.

Council members Moore, Reed Dupy, Tom Douglas, and Paul Howard showed support for pursuing the idea of getting new equipment. The matter will be discussed again during the council's next meeting.

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