In this economic environment, if a business with a $718,215 operating deficit and no reserves asked a bank for a $2-million bailout package, the response would be a predictable one: “no.”
But in the world of Burbank municipal business, the answer is always “yes.” Running low on water service revenues? Raise the rates. Constructing a new building that is more expensive than planned? Withdraw more money.
Can’t run an enterprise business after blowing through more than $2 million in loaned assistance? No matter. As long as it doesn’t impact seniors, youth or other public services that typically take the brunt of budget cuts, the piggy bank at City Hall is always open.
So when the City Council approved another $1-million loan for DeBell Golf Course, with another million set aside if needed, no one should have been surprised. After all, the course, which has been losing $300,000 in revenue in recent years, has been a financial leech for a long time.
But instead of enabling a money-losing venture, city leaders should think about getting out of the golf business and leave it to the professionals. Don’t sell DeBell, but license an outside operator to run it. Because, clearly, the parks department can’t swing it.
We understand that DeBell is more than a golf course, and that its beauty is just one more of the thousand reasons people want to live here. But why should residents shoulder the financial burden of a place that should, by all rights, be a revenue generator, rather than a drain?