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COUNTY BUYS GOLF COURSE
By Alice Perry Linker
Observer Staff Writer
Golfers who hope for many more chances to get a hole-in-one at Buffalo Peak may see that dream come true, as the course in Union is passing into county hands, with support from the state.
The Union County commissioners voted Wednesday to buy out the course's bondholder, Eaton-Vance, for $1.8 million. The amount owed was $2.8 million, but the bondholder agreed to accept the smaller amount.
Under an agreement with the state Economic and Community Development Department, the state is offering the county a 15-year loan at 5.8 percent interest, with the first payment due in three years.
County Administrative Officer Marlene Perkins said the three-year deferral will give the county an opportunity to pay operating expenses while putting aside some money for the loan. No property tax money will be earmarked for the golf course, she said.
Buffalo Peak's income during April, May and June was greater than for those months last year, Perkins said, and brought in a total of $85,658 for the quarter.
The City of Union was the original owner of the course, but a delay in construction, coupled with start-up costs and lower- than-expected revenues, brought financial problems. The city found itself in danger of foreclosure when it could not pay both operating costs and the loan. The city and county agreed early this year to turn the operation over to the county.
During negotiations with the county, Eaton-Vance deferred loan payments.
Perkins said the golf course employees are county employees, but only one, the greenskeeper, works full time. Golf pro Dave Spurgeon is not an employee but works under contract.
Perkins said that she and Dennis Spray, the county's general services director, have been managing the course operation as part of their ongoing duties.
The course will continue to irrigate the fairways and greens with treated effluent from the city's sewer lagoons, Spray said. The county and city are negotiating an irrigation agreement.
The county will continue to manage the course, but Perkins said she will look for a management company to take on marketing and promotion.
The state is expected to make a final decision on the county's loan application next week, Perkins said, and the money is expected by Sept. 30.