LJWorld.com weblogs Town Talk
City in search of 'rich uncle'
As city commissioners Tuesday considered a host of budget cuts to deal with a possible loss of $1.1 million of state funding this year, they got lots of advice. One piece was to forget this idea of adding another Sister City to its roster. In January, the city’s Sister Cities Advisory Board began exploring the possibility of adding Iniades, Greece, to the city’s Sister City Program. The idea has not yet reached the City Commission, but City Manager David Corliss said he already is unlikely to recommend moving forward on the addition. “My quick response was that we don’t need another Sister City,” Corliss said. “We need a rich uncle.” Supporters of adding the city have said it would not require any additional city funding because the program could be supported by donations. Regardless, Corliss said he likely would recommend against the idea because it sent the wrong message during tight budget times. Corliss also took time to respond to another cost savings suggestion — closing the city-operated Eagle Bend Golf Course. As the city has said previously — and as we’ve reported — the idea of closing the city course below the Clinton Lake Dam is not so simple. The reasons are two-fold: 1. The city doesn't own the land the course is on. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers does, and there's never been any indication they're willing to let a private operator take advantage of the city's ultra low-cost lease of the ground. 2. Regardless of whether the city operates the golf course, the city is responsible for paying the debt to construct the course in the 1990s. That amounts to an annual bond payment of about $300,000 until the middle part of the next decade. "We can't walk away from that legal obligation," Corliss said.After a reorganization at Eagle Bend, the fees charged at the course have covering the costs of operation and have been covering a portion of the debt payment. If the course closed, the city at-large would have to pay the entire debt-payment."I know the community will say 'sell Eagle Bend,'" Corliss said. "But I just don't see that as being a very feasible option."