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COSTA MESA : Council to Consider Golf Pact Tonight

The City Council will give final consideration tonight to a lucrative contract with Mesa Verde Partners to operate the city’s two public golf courses.

The proposed contract could result in rent payments to the city of $28 million over the next 15 years.

The council will consider adding three years to the contract in exchange for an employee subsidy of $250,000, to be paid by the contractor, which will help the city’s 18 golf-course employees in the transition. Company officials have said that the employees, if they choose to work for Mesa Verde, will face pay cuts of 20% to 25%.

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Meanwhile, Santa Monica-based American Golf Corp., which was the top choice among 11 bidders for the contract reviewed by a five-member committee, has offered to double that employee subsidy to $500,000 if the city decides against Mesa Verde.

Representatives of Mesa Verde Partners could not be reached Friday.

Until now, the city has operated the golf courses, with the exception of concessions, with greens fees paying for their upkeep.

The council decided to relinquish control of the daily operation of the golf courses last year to increase revenues. The concessions lease with Harry S. Green & Associates runs out at the end of August.

Mesa Verde, in its original proposal, offered to reseed the 18-hole courses with Bermuda grass at a cost of $605,000, expand the lakes at both courses and install new drainage and irrigation systems.

American Golf has sent letters to members of the City Council, City Manager Allan Roeder and City Atty. Thomas Kathe sweetening its original offer of $250,000 to help with the employee transition.

“The city talks about how they’re hurting for money, and the staff ranked my company No. 1,” said Lynn Shackelford, American Golf vice president for acquisition.

In his letter to the city, Shackelford said he learned that the city would have to give the golf course employees six months’ notice if it plans to lay them off. He offered $500,000 to help the city pay for salaries during that transition, putting the first-year payment at $2 million.

Mesa Verde’s original proposal did not include an employee subsidy, but one has been included in the final document to be considered tonight.

Another losing bidder, Environmental Care Inc., was refused a second chance at the lucrative contract earlier this month when the council decided to continue its negotiations with Mesa Verde. Environmental Care claimed that it could increase the revenue to the city by almost $9 million.

If the contract is not approved tonight and talks with Mesa Verde fall through, the council will decide which of the remaining bidders to negotiate with.


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