Highland Park Support of Fort Sheridan Golf Course is Fiscal Irresponsibility

City-owned Highland Park Country Club Golf Course Posts Year after Year Losses

The City of Highland Park “remains steadfast in its belief that a high quality golf course should be built at the Fort Sheridan Historic District.” Highland Park mayor Michael Belsky recently appeared before residents of the Town of Fort Sheridan reaffirming this support. And the mayor participates on the Fort Sheridan Master Plan Advisory Committee promoting Highland Park’s support. What are they thinking??!!

The City of Highland Park is struggling to deal with the costs of its own golf course albatross. When net assets of the country club fund decreased by over a quarter million dollars in one year due to operating losses, the city was prompted to report in its 2007 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, “The City is working with the contract management company to identify ways to improve the operating position of this fund.” One would hope. But I don’t think they’re working hard enough.

Apparently, the City of Highland Park is not working as hard on improving this operating position as they are on supporting the development of a competing Fort Sheridan County golf course. This proposed Fort Sheridan golf course will compete with Highland Park and other local struggling municipal courses for a decreasing number of golfers.  The December, 2008 Annual Report showed a further reduction in net assets of the Country Club fund of over $300,000 based on a net operating loss of $130,000. As a business person, I see this performance as a disaster. And I’m being charitable.

The City of Highland Park and Park District golf course operations, two separate entities,  have serious financial problems. We don’t need another nearby municipal golf course to further dilute the already dwindling player population.  Everyone will lose. We’re already losing. And it isn’t getting any better.

We will see Highland Park’s 2009 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report in June. We predict the golf operation finances will be a massacre. This gives the City of Highland Park, Mayor Belsky, Councilman Steve Mandel and others plenty of time to reconsider their commitment to fiscal responsibility.  Or maybe not.

(All quoted data is from the City of Highland Park’s audited and published annual financial reports.  The quote noting Highland Park’s commitment is from a Highland Park City – Fort Sheridan Policy)

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