Santa Rosa to audit troubled Bennett Valley Golf Course

  • Dave and Kim Vinson finish their round on the 18th hole at the Bennett Valley Golf Course on Friday, May 10, 2013. (John Burgess/The Press Democrat)

Santa Rosa is chipping away at the problems facing the Bennett Valley Golf Course.

City Manager Kathy Millison told the City Council during this week's budget hearings that her office is conducting a full-scale audit and is exploring raising green fees and carrying the debt from the construction of the clubhouse.

"Our goal is we want to resolve issues here in the first quarter for certain so we can get on better footing with the golf course," Millison said.

The city has hired an auditor, Maze & Associates of Pleasanton, to review the course's books, Millison said. The firm began its review last week and is expected to deliver a report in 45 to 60 days, she said.

The audit, which was recommended by a March performance review identifying several red flags in the operation, is examining the course's accounting procedures, revenues and compliance with the contract, she said.

The results of that audit may influence the renegotiation of the contract with operator Bob Borowicz, who is in the fourth year of the 10-year contract managing the course, she said.

The city is also reviewing the rates at the course, which are set by the city, and will consider changes if necessary to meet the city's obligations, she said.

While noting the performance review praised the 18-hole course in many ways, Millison said the "rate structure for the city is not good."

The review noted that the revenue split between the city and Borowicz hasn't always been an equitable one, with Borowicz, who makes money off things like cart rental and driving range fees, benefitting more in recent years than the city, which makes money off green fees that have been reduced for nonresidents.

In addition, Millison said the city needs to consider carrying the debt resulting from the 2007 construction of the $10 million clubhouse and pro shop. The debt on the bonds and repayment of the loan of park development fees amounts to about $470,000 per year and is the principal reason the course is running out of money.

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