Superior's City Council accepted the recommendation from the Nemadji Golf Course Task Force to accept a proposal from KemperSports.
The Council authorized city staff to negotiate with the Northbrook, Illinois-golf management firm after a closed session meeting Tuesday, May 21.
It was one of three proposals submitted to the city for management of Nemadji Golf Course. Last year, the city received notice from Mark Carlson of Nemadji Public Golf Course Inc. that he would cease to lease and operate the city-owned course after this year. Carlson has managed the golf course since the 1970s, first as a hired manager, through a lease agreement since 2005.
The task force helped evaluate the proposals and interviewed the organization that had submitted them, said Jean Vito, finance director and senior administrative officer.
"We wanted to make a recommendation to the Council that would maximize income to the city, or stated another way, if we incurred deficits, they would be as small as possible," Vito said.
The city received proposals from Bill Casper Group, KemperSports and Nemadji Public Golf Course.
Two different types of contracts were proposed.
Carlson proposed a lease management agreement similar to the current lease contract he currently holds, leasing the facility for $50,000 annually, Vito said. Any net profit from the operation would go back to Carlson, she said.
The other two proposals offered to manage the golf course for a fee, and any profit or loss would be the city's," Vito said.
Billy Casper Group asked that 7 percent be paid to them in the form of a management and if net income was present at the end of the year, they asked for 15 percent as an incentive to run the course well, Vito said. She said another 3 percent was requested for the group for capital improvements at the golf course.
"KemperSports management contract was a little simpler," Vito said. They asked for $7,000 per month to manage the course.
Vito said the task force evaluated the pros and cons of going with KemperSports. The pros included offering a family-oriented experience, empowering staff, training staff for a good golf experience, marketing plans to attract golfers, and willingness to partner to achieve the city's goals. She said the task force didn't find any cons, and references for KemperSports were very positive. She said the city of La Crosse just signed a 20-year agreement with them after working with KemperSports for a number of years.
"We all know there is a risk in business," Councilor Brent Fennessey said. "The golf course is no doubt a business, and under the current lease agreement, Mark Carlson assumes all of that business risk and sends us $50,000 a year. Under Kemper, we assume 100 percent of that risk."
Fennessey said he didn't see enough in the proposal to give him confidence that KemperSports would make the golf course profitable.
Fennessey was the only councilor to vote against negotiating with KemperSports to develop the terms of a contract.
If an agreement is reached, KemperSports would start managing the golf course in 2020.