Cook County commissioners revisited a request from the Joint Economic Development Authority to extend a $200,000 line-of-credit loan to Superior National Golf Course. EDA representative Jim Hall was at Tuesday’s Meeting to make the request.
At their last meeting, Board Chair Fritz Sobanja asked for detailed information on golf rounds played and a number of other issues. Commissioner Bruce Martinson responded Tuesday with facts and figures on golf rounds played by members versus visitors and a history of the ups and downs of rounds played.
Hall said he felt the details were important, but they were management questions, and he was there to ask for a loan.
Hall: What we’re really here for is to borrow some money for the next two years, or the next year, to keep our golf course running.
The board discussed bartered and traded golf rounds, free rounds for promotions and birthdays as well as the role of EZ Links, an on-line course reservation site which trades out its service for rounds it can sell in lieu of charging a fee to Superior National. Sobanja, Martinson and commissioners Jan Hall and Bob Fenwick discussed the pros and cons of the EZ Links arrangement and whether or not it made economic sense for Superior National.
Commissioner Jim Johnson directed the discussion back to the original request
Johnson: I think what we’re being asked to do is to advance the golf course $200,000.
Jim Hall said it wasn’t exactly an advance of money but a loan that would be paid back, as it had been in the past.
Hall: If you don’t think our credit is good, talk to the bank. We’ve always paid the bank back, we’ve paid the county back and now we’re broke and that’s normal this time of year. We need a minimum of $200,000 to carry it through to spring and that’s been forever.
The “forever” Hall referred to was in reference to a long-standing cash flow relationship the EDA had with a private bank. Commissioner Bob Fenwick explained.
Fenwick: This process was always taken care of by the EDA by going to the bank in town here for the line of credit every year for cash flow purposes for the winter months. Then one year, during the audit, they let the EDA know that, for whatever reason, that was not an appropriate way the EDA could do business, that they could not have a line of credit advance, but that it was appropriate to allow the EDA to borrow money from a governmental unit for this purpose. We opted, I think appropriately, not to levy and give money to the EDA as part of their budget for this. We’ve continued to do it as a loan. It has worked well. It has not cost the county, because you have paid it back, now. It has not cost the county anything. It seems like a feasible business way to continue to do that.
Hall: What I’m requesting is $200,000 that we can get fairly soon, because we have our bond payments to make of $15,000 and out of that $200,000, about $90,000 will be used for bond payments for the county, and the rest of it will go to pay the light bill and the three people on wages and that’s it.
Jan Hall wanted more information on where the golf course was with its request to the county for one percent sales tax money. The issue of an outside consultant to be hired to review the golf course needs and management plan was then discussed. Fenwick said he felt the mistake made so far was not involving the course manager in discussions of Superior National’s infrastructure needs.
Commissioner Johnson asked what would happen if the board did not approve the $200,000 loan.
Hall: Well, you’d have to shut it down. It would freeze the buildings, wouldn’t be able to pay the lights and power and you’d have to lay off our employees. That’s what would happen.
After nearly 45 minutes the board granted the loan at one percent interest to cover administrative expenses.