Davenport considering selling golf courses

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Some members of the Davenport City Council will propose selling the city’s three golf courses in January’s budget meetings.

Davenport’s Fourth Ward Alderman Raymond Ambrose says the city spends millions of dollars a year on its golf courses – Emeis, Duck Creek, and Red Hawk.  Ambrose added that, as the years pass, it becomes more fiscally challenging to fund the courses. 

That leaves the city with limited options.

“There are two things you can do – you either raise taxes or you cut somewhere,” Ambrose said.

With raising taxes being unlikely, cuts will be considered.

“Bottom line is we want to keep Davenport and Scott County as an economic engine and an economic leader,” Ambrose said.

But long time Davenport golfer Bob Martin disagrees with Ambrose. Martin said selling the golf courses would be an “awful idea.”

“Golf is an amenity – amenities are needed for economic development,” Martin said.

Currently, money that the city’s golf courses earn goes to the golf fund.  That money is then used to fund and maintain the three courses.  Golfers like Martin believe it is certain once the course is sold to a private developer, prices will go up and quality will go down.

“The city can break even and doesn’t even have to pay taxes – a private owner would have to make a profit and pay taxes,” Martin said.

“They (private companies) would soon find there isn’t any money in the golf course business.”

But Alderman Ambrose isn’t only considering selling the golf courses – he would consider selling the sewer system that the city currently owns and operates to a private company.

“Everything should be on the table,” said Ambrose.

The budget hearings will begin in January 2014.  The public is welcome to all hearings.