Council moves ahead with search for golf course management firm

Jill Meier, Journal editor
The request for a proposal for contracting services of a management firm for the Brandon Golf Course specifically, received unanimous support from the city council at their Nov. 2 session.
Brandon resident Scott Rust told the council that he drafted the original RFP the city of Sioux Falls used for this same purpose. He attended the meeting to promote the RFP and answer any questions the council had.
Alderwoman Dana Clark, who was part of the RFP discussion committee, said that not every resident in Brandon supports the idea of contracting management services. 
“It’s a no-brainer for us to look at it,” she said.
Clark inquired about what Sioux Falls’ city-owned courses realized from entering into a contract with a management firm “to help residents understand why it’s important to look at.”
Rust said overall revenues have improved greatly. He said the combined city course revenue is about $300,000 over 2019 and $188,000 above budget.
“It’s been an amazing golf year,” Rust said, “Last year, given the fact it was such a rainy year, the city made money.”
Golfers, Rust said, continually complimented course conditions.
“They elevated it up. They basically took the cobwebs out of the corners, made it look a lot better,” he said.
The courses are also seeing an uptick in their club houses. 
“That’s something we noticed right away,” he said, noting changes to their food and beverage programs and an upswing in pro shop sales.
“They have a lot of cool ideas,” he said.
One specific idea – Bogies and Brews – resulted in a golf tournament that sold out in hours.
Connecting to a management company Rust said could lessen expenses, citing better buying power in equipment and chemical purchases, hiring staff, etc.
“They have that expertise,” Rust said. “That’s what comes along with a management company. They don’t do it to lose money, they do it to make money.”
Holiday business
Two separate Christmas holiday items were on the Nov. 2 agenda. The first was a request by VFW Post 4726 to stage a Holiday Parade of Lights on the evening of Saturday, Nov. 28. The parade caps off the Chamber-driven Shop Small Saturday campaign held earlier in the day. 
The parade route will follow the Loyalty Day parade’s usual route, assembling in and departing from the Brandon Valley High School parking lot, turning west on Holly Boulevard to Main Avenue and dispersing at Dogwood.
The council voted against the request for a city employee Christmas party. In respect to COVID-19, the roll call vote cancelled the usual party and in turn, the allotted $4,000 for the party will be distributed in monetary gifts of $111 per full-time employee. 
In other business, the council:
• Approved a retail wine and cider license for Wilde Prairie Winery. The local winery plans to sell/sample its products at the winter farmer’s market in Brandon, which is scheduled for seven dates between Nov. 7 and May 1, 2021.
• Approved the golf course equipment lease (12 pieces of equipment) as recommended by course manager Andrew Bauer. The five-year lease comes at an annual cost of $69,546.97 or $347.735 over five years.
Clark questioned if the city should move ahead with the recommended contract on the heels of putting out an RFP for a management firm, recognizing the potential of purchasing power with a management firm.
Kelly Eihlers, course superintendent, said the government contract the city has access to, a management company cannot purchase equipment or chemicals, for example, less than the city already does.
“We can’t just stop what we’re doing, we have to keep moving forward,” said Bauer.
At the council’s next meeting, Bauer said a 20-year plan for the course will be presented.
• Approved a salary adjustment ($22.19 per hour) for Brandon Police officer Kyle Zigan.
• Approved the request to enter a new five-year contract with TASER at an annual cost of $4,320. The contract includes six TASER 7 ECW’s (Electrically Conductive Weapons), which also includes live and training cartridges, holsters, a training vest, instructor/class vouchers, online training, etc.
The TASER upgrade and new contract was earmarked in the department’s 2021 budget. 
The council also OK’d the purchase of a 2021 Ford Explorer/Interceptor for the police department at a cost of $37,952, which is $2,048 under budget. The vehicle is being purchased through the state bid process.
The new patrol vehicle, which should be fully equipped and operational by March 2021, replaces vehicle #16, which has more than 100,000 miles on it.
• Authorized city staff to advertise for bids for the water tower project. The project includes a 16-inch water transmission line that will be installed and extended from existing high-pressure water lines to service the tower, including valves, hydrants and connections to existing mains. The tower will be located on the city’s eastside and north of the intersection of Redwood and Chestnut boulevards. The project also includes installation of a valve and building at the north edge of the Brandon Golf Course parking lot.
The project is estimated at $5,687,000.
• Adjourned until 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, for the council’s briefing meeting and the 6 p.m. Nov. 16 council meeting.


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