The Devine Golf Association will be unable to pay its employees after July 30, and asked the City of Devine to take over the golf course as it prepares to dissolve.
A Public Hearing on the issue will be held next Tuesday, July 31 at 6:00 pm at the George S. Woods Community Center. A Special City Council meeting will be held after the Public Hearing should Council choose to act at that time.
The City was granted the land that houses the course’s original nine holes in 1967, and has leased the land to the DGA through 2057. The DGA purchased property in 1988 and constructed the back nine holes. According to the DGA’s bylaws, all of its assets will be turned over to the City in the event of the DGA’s dissolution.
In the Council meeting on July 17, Mayor Bill Herring expressed a desire to keep the golf course running, but said no documentation has been found that the City ever agreed to accept the DGA’s assets in the event of its dissolution, or that the City has the legal requirement to do so.
“We can’t find any document that the City Council ever agreed back in ‘67 to agree with what’s in their bylaws, about the City would get everything and operate it as a golf course,” Herring said. “All the way back to ‘67, there’s no agenda item with that on it, there’s no minutes that it ever took place. Nobody can find any signed documents by the City of Devine and the Golf Association.”
City Attorney Tom Cate said the City would have to choose to accept the DGA’s assets, but that in the meantime, the City can enter into an agreement with the DGA to maintain the course until a decision is made about its future.
Some of the options on the table include the City running the golf course itself or hiring an outside management firm to handle day-to-day operations.
District 5 Councilman Cory Thompson said that the golf course needed to remain in operation, citing a loss of market value for homes if it closes.
Jeremy Vail, a District 5 resident who said he lives next to the golf course, expressed concern at the idea of the City taking over.
“We live in a capitalistic society,” Vail said. “When businesses fail, they fail.”
Vail added that he preferred that an outside company take over, to which Herring replied, “All options are available.”
The DGA went public with its financial issues last year, and in November 2017 chose B&S Management Group, run by siblings Brandon Rackley and Shannon Rackley Rangel, to take over day-to-day management of the course. B&S provided $100,000 in up front funding, but that proved insufficient to keep the course afloat as it continued to lose money.
Tommy Ramirez’s November 2017 offer to buy the DGA’s half of the course for $70,000 and keep it in operation as a public golf course was rejected in favor of B&S. Herring said the City had been in touch with Ramirez since learning of the DGA’s pending dissolution and had scheduled a meeting with him, but that Ramirez canceled.
“The meeting did not take place between us and Tommy,” Herring said. “You can read into that however you want to.”
Interim City Administrator Dora Rodriguez requested financial documents and meeting minutes from the DGA in order to get a clearer idea of the financial challenges facing the course prior to the Public Hearing on July 31.
“I’m sure we’re going to have a lot of citizens that are going to be asking those questions that we won’t be able to answer until we get the financials,” Cate said, “because I think it’s going to come down to a dollar and cents questions for a lot of citizens.”
By Marly Davis