By Dan Davidson
Photos by Carrie Docken
It’s been a challenge, but the Dawson Golf Association (DGA) has managed to keep the town’s golf course running in the black since the town acquired the facility from the family of the late Bill Hakonson and concluded a deal with the non-profit association to run the place.
The town allocates a portion of its budget to help cover costs at the golf course, but that doesn’t mean that the DGA doesn’t need other funding, In November of last year the association discovered that it needed a bit more help after some money that had been promised in corporate sponsorships fell through due to what president Carrie Docken politely describes as the result of “recent developments in the exploration industry (changing) the landscape.”
The amount in question was between $10,000 and $20,000 and was needed in order to match the funds required to obtain two Community Development Fund (CDF) grants for new equipment.
“This application,” Docken explained in a letter to council, “is for the purchase and installation of a solar-power battery system, with generator backup for a total of $59,891.75. The single biggest operating cost of the golf course and clubhouse currently is the diesel generator the facilities are powered by. In 2013 the diesel costs were $19,088 for the four-month season. The CDF grant will significantly reduce the ongoing operating costs and increase the viability and sustainability of the golf course.”
The DGA has already had good fortune with CDF grants, using just over $90,000 to replace a variety of aging equipment needed to operate the course, including “a greens mower, a deck mower, a fairway mower, a tee-box mower, a green surround mower and an all purpose tractor.”
With the default of the corporate donations, the club was left short some of the money it needed to provide to qualify for the two grants. In each case the amount was approximately one half of the total of $21, 573.
As the town has committed itself to maintaining the existence of the golf course, both for local recreation and as a visitor attraction, there was really no question as to whether the request would be granted, but there were some questions about the details.
City Manager Jeff Renaud explained to Councillor Johnson that the extra money was available due to “the unfortunate circumstance of several of our staff being on disability this year.” The payroll savings meant “the money’s there in the current year’s budget, available and that’s where (the senior financial officer and I) recommend that it would come from.”
Councillor Kendrick did not object to the resolution (in fact he seconded it) but hoped that the matter of more reliable sponsorship pledges might be pursued in the future.
“It’s our golf course and it’s a great asset, and lots of people use it, but there are lots of people that don’t use it, and have less access to it than other rec facilities that are closer to us in the core.”
Referencing the annual grant to the golf course, which falls in the budget under “green space and park maintenance”, Mayor Potoroka (who moved the resolution) added his thoughts.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I’ll say it tonight. A $30,000 subsidy for… our golf course really is small spuds when you look at the hundreds of thousands of dollars that we spend on some of our other recreation facilities. I would like to think that we could always see more sponsorships, not only for the golf course but for other places, but I think it really behooves us all to get informed as to what the situation is on the ground over there before we make that sort of request of them.”
The final resolution gave the DGA the relief it needed.
“That the City of Dawson provides financial assistance to the Dawson City Golf Association in the amount of $21,573 in order to satisfy a funding shortfall related to the CDF funding agreement for upgrades of equipment at the municipal golf course.”