Jasper considers selling Ruxer Golf CourseAugust 9, 2019
By ALLEN LAMAN
JASPER — Jasper officials are considering the possibility of selling Ruxer Golf Course.
The potential sale of the city-owned and maintained course was discussed briefly at the Jasper Common Council’s annual public budget hearings on Thursday. Mayor Dean Vonderheide said a possible buyer has “expressed an interest for the potential for future golf business” at the nine-hole course.
“As we start the discussions with the parks [department] today, I really would like to consider that we go ahead and move to privatize or sell the Ruxer Golf Course,” Vonderheide told the council early in the meeting. “I don’t want to lose the golf course, I think it’s important to the city for the youth programs and those kind of things. Practicing and a place where kids can learn.
“But I think there’s a way to privatize it, and I’ve been in discussions with a gentleman that’s very interested in doing that. And there may be more people interested in doing that.”
While talks are still in an early phase and concrete details on the possible transaction are sparse, the city could save around $225,000 next year alone if Ruxer is sold. Later in the day, Vonderheide said two entities have spoken to him about the course.
Even if Ruxer is privatized, Vonderheide said the intent is for the facility to remain a place that local golfers can grow their skills and practice.
“At least, the intent would be that we’d still have a practice facility and [be] able to develop the youth,” Vonderheide said. “That’s what Ruxer was all about. The youth involved, and interested. And also have a short, executive course for somebody that wants to play a quick game.”
Ruxer, which is located on Clay Street on land donated to the city by Alvin Ruxer, has faced challenges in 2019. The course didn’t open for the season until July 12, which was the latest its season has started during John Bertges’ six-year tenure as the city’s golf director.
According to Herald archives, a creek from Patoka Lake runs through Ruxer and can leave parts of the course saturated and under water.
“Especially if the asset can be improved through private investment versus the city doing it, and we don’t lose the facility to the golf community, why wouldn’t I look at selling it?” Vonderheide said following the hearings. “That’s what we’re looking at.”
He explained that the council and the parks department have had a healthy discussion about the future of the course, adding that the final decision of what happens to the facility is up to the council.
All the departments’ 2020 budgets were calculated prior to the hearing, and officials determined before the meeting that the city needed to cut $328,000 total from the proposals. Eventually, the group landed on a tweaked budget of about $23.1 million.
The council evened it out by strategically cutting and moving budgeted funds around at the end of the hearings. Equipment purchases, projects and other expenses were all assessed during the daylong budget hearing.
Though the budget is still not official — and won’t be until later this year — one big-ticket item that was discussed was a 2% payroll increase for each department. The council was also briefed on projects important to the departments and other issues they’d like to see addressed in the future.
The group will meet again at 7:30 a.m. Aug. 22 in the Pfaffenweiler Room at city hall to further discuss the budget and a list of future city projects.
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