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UPLACE: Don’t obligate citizens for Open costs

Letter by James W. Clark, University Place on Aug. 15, 2012 at 12:50 pm with 4 Comments »
August 15, 2012 12:54 pm

Re: “U.S. Open task force set” (TNT, 8-13).

University Place’s creation of a three council-member task force to support the U.S. Open is disturbing.

University Place is governed by a seven-member, elected City Council, not a three-member task force. Presumably, the new task force and its members will be subject to public open meetings laws, and meetings will be well-publicized and available for sewer ratepayer and city taxpayer comment and participation.

Ratepayers and taxpayers are already underwriting Chambers Bay course construction and operations losses to the tune of $31 million in loans and tax revenue diversions, without a firm repayment plan.

Councilman Chris Nye says it is important that the city understand what will be required of it to support the event. While U.S. Golf Association is principal planner for the private golfing event, it does not dictate support terms or financial obligations to the city.

It would be inappropriate for Nye and his fellow task-force council members to financially obligate or otherwise commit the city or its taxpayers to support this private golfing event. The city is already $50 million in debt and has cut city services to core service levels.

Let’s welcome golfers, but the USGA, its sponsors and players should pay the full cost of the event. U.S. Open planning should be conducted with the same transparency required for all public expenditures. Adverse community impacts should be minimized.

Substantial repayment of Chambers Bay sewer utility loans, course- modification costs, golf cart procurement, crowd management and security, park restoration and clean-up should be part of the golfing event tab.

Leave a comment Comments → 4
  1. So, Mr. Clark, do you know that the expenses you write about are NOT being paid for by the USGA?
    Your red-herring-ish letter does nothing to further the goals of people who are trying to make the tournament a success.
    The losses are nowhere near $31 million, so that is a falsehood of major proportion. You really should be more careful with your baseless assertions.

  2. Curmudgeon48 says:

    Publico…please enlighten us with the facts, as you know them. What do you believe the real issue might be? If you believe the USGA is fully funding the event, then let’s see the numbers. In the meantime, let’s not build artificial task forces to direct additional public resources to private golfing events, or have pro-golf political candidates running for multiple governmental positions to promote USGA events.

    I believe sewer ratepayers and taxpayer financial support to Chambers Bay (construction loans, loan guarantees, equipment fund diversions, interests paid) is over $31 million. I have met with three Pierce County Council Members to discuss sewer rate increases, sewer district loans and loan guarantees using public funds for Chambers Bay for private golfing events. The TNT has published accounts of the continuing annual operations losses (about $1 million/year) at Chambers Bay covered by Pierce County taxpayers. The County borrowed $21 million to build the course pledging sewer revenues for payment. The TNT recently reported sewer director’s willingness to pay $800,000 annually for golf course maintenance as a “legitimate” public sewer expense. One only has to look at the minimal financial return to Pierce County from the US Amateur to gauge golfing’s community commitment. Chambers Bay and its golfers are without question operating on the public’s dime.

    I believe USGA has contributed at least $2.5 million to support the US Open, a small fraction of Chambers Bay construction loans and annual operating losses, and expected event costs, including clean-up and restoration.

    I am not against a successful USGA event, as long as the golfing community pays for the privilege. I do not believe Chambers Bay should be publicly funded with sewer funds or through property taxes. So show us your facts.

  3. took14theteam says:

    Curmudgeon48

    Welcome to the world of Publico.

  4. Cur, you do not know that these exist: “artificial task forces to direct additional public resources to private golfing events, or have pro-golf political candidates running for multiple governmental positions to promote USGA events.”
    I don’t need to prove anything for you when your premises are devoid of proof in the first place.
    I have said it before and I will say it again, the deficits incurred by the golf course are worth every penny when the value of the ENTIRE Chambers Creek Regional Park is considered.
    Go out and use it. It is spectacular.

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