Oxnard Council debates fate of municipal golf course, Performing Arts Center

Authorizes hiring golf course consultant survey, nixes transfer to general fund, discusses hiring Interim Performing Arts Center Director

By George Miller

Name Date Duration Agenda Minutes Video
City Council Meeting March 4, 2014 04h 36m Agenda Minutes Video


Golf Course and Performing Arts Center

Oxnard's cash-draining River Ridge Golf Course

Oxnard’s cash-draining River Ridge Golf Course

The intent of the discussion was to attempt to transfer both the River Ridge golf course and Performing Arts Center (OPACC) from enterprise funds to the General Fund, but things went in a very different direction. Most council members and the public alike questioned whether moving these to the General Fund would do anything at all to stem the losses, which are operational and interest expenses.

There was much discussion on whether there was in fact a golf course operating loss and if so, how much. Finance Director Cameron stated that according to GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Practices) for government, interest expenses, principal repayment and depreciation are not to be considered. While that may be true, the first two are very real expenses and the last one accounts for lessening of value of an asset over time. This is considerably different from how accounting is practiced in the business world. So the result of the discussion was that there were about a $100 thousand in annual losses with all those considerations ignored and $1.7 million annually when they are added in.

Oxnard Performing Arts Center

Oxnard Performing Arts Center

Operating performance was also discussed. Both enterprises put a considerable drain on the city, between operating, finance and principal payment burdens.  The golf course has about 60% of the rounds of golf played than the neighboring Ventura course.  And the fees are higher at Ventura.  Perello discussed potential fee increases, but he was not sure if the traffic would bear it. There was talk of renewing the Golf Commission, dissolved circa 1993.

The discussion of operating losses/issues was nowhere near as detailed as in previous meeting discussions  also (Feb. 4 meeting) you will find chronicled by Citizensjournal.us  handout for the March 4 meeting: View Item (pdf 189 KB)

Perallo inquired whether the Performing Arts Center had much deferred maintenance. He was told there was some deferred maintenance. Resident and financial professional Jim Lavery recommended getting a golf course outsourcing bid and to invest in the Performing arts Center. Councilman MacDonald said that we’re not bringing activities to OPACC and that lack of a Director is an issue.

There was some debate on whether it was the city’s responsibility to provide such amenities for the people of Oxnard to enjoy, even if they aren’t self-funding. Previous discussions have allowed that beaches, parks and the Performing Arts Center were, because of broadly based support and usage, but the golf course is only used by a very small percentage of residents and is quite expensive to own, generating substantial losses for the city. Councilman MacDonald led the charge, coming to the defense of keeping it.  Marketing was identified as a major weakness. Perello wants to revisit the golf course’s operating contract. City Attorney Fisher has not yet reviewed it to consider potential options.  Multiple city personnel believed it might cost $500-7700,000 to buy out the contract. Contract restructuring was discussed, but it is likely that Oxnard would have to retain the assets, debt and  landfill maintenance obligations.

Finance Director Jim Cameron believes that General Fund revenue may increase by  3.6%, which would help cover costs, but the economy is still uncertain.

There was talk about improving the Performing Arts Center and zero sentiment for doing away with it. Discussion centered on how to increase its utilization, how it has been on the down-slope and in need of a sprucing up and that there has been no Center Director in two years. Council again discussed appointing an interim Director. This will be discussed at a March 19,  5PM PACC meeting.

The result of all this discussion is that Council motioned to put the golf course and performing arts center into the general fund via Option 2 Scenario 1 from the meeting handout.  It failed 2-3, with only Flynn and Padillo voting aye.  They resolved to focus on operational issues. Council also unanimously authorized City Manager Burnham to select a consultant to do a survey (not to exceed $25,000) of the Golf Course situation and come up with some recommendation on what to do about it.


George Miller is Publisher of Citizensjournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant, active in civic affairs, living in Oxnard.

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