City Fathers Deny Request From Golf Course Tenant

June 5, 2006
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Board of Mayor and Aldermen has denied a request by Jimmy Lewis, operator of the Smithville Golf and Swim Club, to reduce his rent from $2,500 to $1,250 per month in consideration for his making major improvements to the irrigation system at the golf course.

Alderman Jackie Rigsby, during Monday night's regular meeting, made a motion to grant Lewis' request but it died for the lack of a second.

Lewis, with his former partner Darryl Counts, was granted a five year extension of his lease agreement along with a five year renewal option only a few months ago as a consideration for his commitment \" to expend the sum of one hundred thousand dollars in order to dig a second well, to install a sprinkler system for the fairways, and to purchase golf carts\".

Under the previous agreement with the city, Lewis had the golf course and swimming pool leased until 2012 at a rate of $2,500 per month. Under the amended agreement, Lewis was granted an extension of his lease through 2017 at the same rate of $2,500 per month, with a five year renewal option. The monthly rate can be renegotiated in 2017.

Lewis says he has already spent more than $84,000 on the golf course and swimming pool and he now needs some help from the city.

Lewis says the volume of water needed to supply water to all the fairways cannot be supplied by the well that now exists and that two new wells are required. He says the holding pond that the golf course now has does not have the capacity to hold the volume of water needed so it will need to be enlarged or a new pond will have to be dug.

Lewis, three weeks ago, requested a reduction of $1,500 per month in his rent for sixty eight months until the irrigation improvement project is paid off, starting in June, 2006 through January 2013, which would have been a loss of revenue to the city of $102,000.

City aldermen, during the last meeting on May 15th, asked Lewis to obtain more bids on the proposed project and they would consider his request.

Lewis presented eight sealed bids to the city board during it's regular meeting Monday night and the Mayor and Aldermen reviewed them during a recess. Lewis also revised his request from three weeks ago, asking that the rent be reduced by half, to $1,250 per month.

City officials told Lewis that by taking the lowest bids on each project (digging the pond, well, and installing the irrigation system), the cost to him would be between $93,000 and $94,000, well under the $100,000 he had committed to spend himself under the extended lease agreement.

Alderman Rigsby, in making the motion to cut Lewis' rent in half, said he thought the city should help him since he had made so many improvements to the golf course. \" I can see the advantages. The golf course means so much to the industries coming in here. It brings more people into town. They spend money when they come into town. It's (golf course) picking up all the time, membership is picking up.\"

However Alderman Aaron Meeks countered that the city should not help a for profit entity at the expense of the city taxpayers. \" We just passed a budget in which we are going to take almost $715,000 out of the surplus to balance the general fund budget. Plus another $395,000 for sanitation services that are not funded. And now we're talking about giving $100,000 to a for profit operation that will be coming out of the taxpayer's pockets. Whether you take it out at $1,250 a month or $100,000 at a time, it's still coming from the taxpayers.\"

Rigsby responded, \" We're not talking about taking it all out at once, we're talking about taking $15,000 a year.\"

Meeks replied, \" That's okay, it's still coming out of the taxpayer's pockets.\"

Rigsby answered, \"That's absolutely right\".

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