Missouri City propaganda?
By Elsa Maxey
Missouri City Mayor Allen Owen “shared that in 2011, the golf courses had 54,000 rounds of play which included 100 tournaments,” and that “Council is very proud of the support the Golf Courses have received from the community as well as the general public.” This is recorded in the Feb. 13 Quail Valley Fund meeting notes prepared and distributed by Marketing Director Susan Fox.
Missouri City resident Veronica Garcia is not one of those in the community supporting the golf course, and about its operations, neither is Howard Moline, another resident. Both of them are quite vocal about the profit and losses of the golf course recently reported by the city.
Garcia wants to know who approved and why the city moved money, albeit she indicates it was done legally, from one account to another. “The financial transactions that were mentioned changed the net result from a loss to a gain and that is misleading,” she states in an e-mail blast to city officials, the city manager and area media representatives.
Missouri City government should manage the Quail Valley Golf Course with a clear profit objective, Moline reportedly states. He also is reported to have said that Missouri City residents are given a discount and that he sees no substantial benefit to residents from subsidizing golf play for non-residents. Another point he makes is that the golf course can be viewed as generating a loss due to the debt load it assumed to purchase and reconstruct it.
Essentially, the city golf course is viewed from some perspectives as breaking even, however, when the debt service, which includes principal and interest is factored it, the expenditures tell another story, different from the one in the city’s press releases.
“The residents and employees deserve a press release with the “WHO and “WHY” details,” said Garcia noting that it will take an action she describes as “just pull the minutes and release the info.” She said that once the information is released, “the public will know exactly what happened and I personally will email those individuals with my feedback and vote them out!”
City Manager Ed Broussard told the Star that the financial information referred to by Garcia is found in the annual budget, monthly budget reports, and annual audit, “all of which can be found at the City’s website,” including the past agendas and minutes for the Leisure and Recreation Local Government Corporation (LGC). Broussard said the corporation was created by the city council as a financial mechanism for governing and accounting the golf course’s costs and operations. “The revenues and expenditures associated with the golf course can be primarily found in the LGC budget,” he said.
Garcia describes herself as a single parent of Hispanic decent and a soccer mom preferring the use of the money to subsidize the golf course to go toward improving amenities such as a covered pavilion for basketball courts, more soccer fields and improvements to soccer greens and not those of the Mayor’s, she said in her communication.
She challenges councilmember Danny Nguyen referring to him as the Chair of International Relations, “and it is my opinion that you should be fighting for each Ethnic group.” She asks that Nguyen “Quit siding with the establishment and the status quo. You have kids and you should understand the necessity to improve our parks.” Because of his business background she asks that he use it to improve the city’s operations. “Fight for us,” she requests.
Garcia also asked that the city manager release the minutes of the LGC meetings. Broussard said that “GC can also be found at our website,” and reports that the city will not be distributing a press release as requested by Garcia.
“Missouri City has been the leader in park, trail and facility development,” said Broussard about the city’s parks and recreation’s needs and programs. He referred to the new recreation center, tennis center, and community center, facilities under construction to be opening this summer. Accomplishments that include opening another phase of the Oyster Creek trail and winning statewide attention for its Edible Arbor Trail, Broussard adds that the neighborhood park system is extensive with community parks, passive parks, and even a major county park spread through the city.
The Quail Valley Fund meeting notes Fox prepared state that Councilman Jerry Wyatt, who was also in attendance, “reminded the group that 74% of the voters in Missouri City voted for the bonds which included a new Community Center/Pro Shop and Tennis and Rec Center.” Stating that it is unfortunate that there are a few residents who are complaining that the golf courses will never turn a profit, Wyatt said those complaining do not necessarily have their facts straight, according to the meeting notes that also say Wyatt referred to the golf courses takeover by the city to be a quality of life and tax base issue.
Councilman Floyd Emery, also at the meeting, “clarified that it is the city’s desire to get the golf course to a positive cash flow and manage the operation as if it were a business,” indicate the meeting notes.
Mayor Owen has repeatedly stated that the golf courses are an amenity for the city’s residents, and at the meeting said they should not be judged strictly by whether or not there is a positive cash flow, as the ownership stability of the course has improved property values.
Around mid-2008, the Quail Valley Golf Course was acquired by the city by eminent domain. City voters approved a $17.5 million dollar bond referendum for the acquisition of 400 acres of park land. According to city financial data, the golf course did not turn a profit and the city transferred $283,000 from its general fund to the LGC fund due to a $210,000 loss.