Financial challenges continue for the Humboldt Golf Club. Humboldt City Council entertained a recommendation prepared by City Manager Joe Day that the City of Humboldt provide financial support to the extent necessary to ensure the gates to the club remain open for the upcoming season.  

The recommendation follows a 2022 resolution to form a joint committee of City of Humboldt representatives and members of the Golf Club Board to seek long term financial solutions. That led to the City’s advancing $130,000 to the Golf Club for its 2023 operations. 

Meetings that continued through the summer of 2023 revealed that operations costs, combined with capital and mortgage commitments would require a substantial cash injection beyond what had already been committed.  

“After a number of meetings, we began to discover that this was not a one-time issue, this financial plight that the Golf Club found themselves in,” characterized Day, who had sat in as an observer on the governance committee meetings. “This was going to be an annual problem for the next several years.” 

The report itemized some of those ongoing challenges. While the Clubhouse mortgage has been paid down, it’s served as collateral for additional loans resulting in a debt of $380,000 dollars and annual payments of $31,000. Equipment purchased through lease-finance plans was another factor. The report outlined the buy-out cost for the current equipment of just over $100,000. That does not include the cost of any new or replacement equipment that is likely to be required in the future.  

The report also considered the newly constructed event tent, realized through a separate mortgage and a five-year repayable loan from the City of $150,000. The event tent was envisioned to generate revenue enough to cover its own costs and derive a surplus by allowing for larger scale events and through rentals. The 2023 budget for the event tent showed around $69,000 generated, about $10,000 short of what is needed to meet its annual five-year projected revenue requirement to meet non-operational costs. 

“After about seven years, there is some optimism that the golf course can be a little more self-sustaining,” Day told Council, based on the report. However, the report notes for the five-to-seven-year interim, the Club is going to need continued financial support.  

The report also presented the option to liquidate portions of land, which the City owns, that are currently part of the Golf Course. All options presented were deemed to have an adverse effect on the playability of the course. 

Councillor Larry Jorgenson pointed out that the advance of funds made previously came with an expectation of a later payback plan and that any offer of funds was not simply a “bail-out.” Councillor Roger Nordick reminded Council of a prior resolution that would restrict any further cash provision to $100,000 with provisions applied.  

Nordick, who sits on the joint committee, did refer to the ask as a “bail out,” one with which he questions in current economic circumstances.  

“I’m struggling with the concept of giving out more money to a recreational club, in essence a private club at this point, while we’ve got folks struggling throughout the city to try to pay rent, to pay their mortgages, even put food on their table,” Nordick said during the meeting. “I find it insufferable that we provide a financial bail-out to a club that’s representing only a small portion of our taxpayers.” 
Nordick contended that the ongoing financial requests catered to a segment of the community that was more affluent. 

Discussion around whether the report represented an actual request from the Golf Club led to the report being tabled pending additional information being provided by the next regular City Council meeting in January.