The private operator of Rohnert Park's public golf courses, a year late with rent payments, is pushing to renegotiate its lease with the city.
The company needs new terms to "stabilize the financial situation" and "avoid the black eye that all parties are likely to suffer" if the public-private partnership fails, said Tom Isaak, president of CourseCo, which has operated the Foxtail Golf Club since 2001.
The lease is "unsustainable" and CourseCo "can no longer bear the burden alone," Isaak said in a letter to the city.
At least one councilmember says that the arrears — $157,607 in rent and interest payments — should be brought up to date first.
"Why would we negotiate," said Councilman Joe Callinan. "Pay up, then we'll talk. Bring it up to current and then, you bet, we'll sit down and talk."
The Petaluma company, which runs 20 golf courses from Washington to Southern California, has lost almost $4 million since taking over the club's two 18-hole courses, Isaak said.
The CourseCo request is the last item on the City Council's Tuesday agenda.
"The property operates smoothly and well and delivers reasonably priced golf," Isaak said. "But it's not an economic model and the doors are being kept open with our funds."
Under the company's original lease, the base rent for the course was set at $350,000 in 2001, and was to rise to $450,000 by this year. But the arrangement was renegotiated in 2004 down to $150,000, rising to $175,000 last year.
"Clearly there's a problem and clearly there's a problem that's going to have to be dealt with by the committee," that renegotiates the lease, Councilman Jake Mackenzie said.
Mackenzie is guaranteed a seat on the three-person committee because he is the only councilmember who does not live within 500 feet of Foxtail.
But because the other four councilmembers live that close to Foxtail, they face potential conflicts of interest and should draw straws to select the two others to take part in the negotiations, according to the city's attorney.
That's caused some differences on the council, as Callinan disagrees with the attorneys' advice
"This is a big decision for Rohnert Park and all five councilmembers should be involved in it," Callinan said.
Mackenzie said the attorneys' advice was routine in a matter involving conflicts of interest.
"It's no big deal," he said.