Tenant at Smithville Golf Course To Terminate His Lease with City

July 11, 2008
Dwayne Page

The tenant at the Smithville Municipal Golf Course has given notice that he is giving up his lease with the city and will be out, as of August 8th.

In a letter to Mayor Taft Hendrixson dated July 8th, Jimmy Lewis states that "At this time with great regret, I have to terminate my lease with the City of Smithville. The Smithville Golf Club has been having trouble making a profit due to a number of reasons for some time. The most important concerns are the amount of the lease payments and the swimming pool."

"I have tried for over a year to work with the City of Smithville to amend the current lease so I could make a go of the operation and save the City lots of time and worry with having to rebid the contract; but to no avail has this been worked out."

"The Smithville Golf Club is in much better shape today than when I was awarded the contract some years ago. I am now giving my 30 days notice and I will be out on August 8th, 2008."

Mayor Hendrixon said the city's options are to either lease the golf course and pool to someone else or to hire someone to operate them.

Lewis originally had the golf course and swimming pool leased until 2012 at a rate of $2,500 per month. Under an 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 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". The monthly rate could have been renegotiated in 2017.

Last December, Mayor Hendrixson vetoed a city council vote to amend last year's budget and spend $215,000 to purchase and install a sprinkler system at the golf course.

The aldermen failed to overide the veto on a 3 to 2 vote.

Had it been approved, the city would have spent $215,000 taking $88,000 from the golf course checking account and $127,000 from the general fund account to pay for the project.

In March, Mayor Hendrixson proposed that the lease be amended. Under the terms, Lewis would have continued operating the golf course through the year 2017, but he would have been relieved of his responsibility for operating the swimming pool. Hendrixson proposed cutting Lewis' rent in half from $2,500 per month to $1,250 per month, but Lewis would have been responsible for all upkeep and maintenance of the golf course. Mayor Hendrixson further proposed that the swimming pool operation and maintenance be funded from the city's recreation budget.

However City Attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. said these proposed changes were so significant that the lease, in his opinion, could not be amended. "I've looked over the lease agreement that you have with Jimmy Lewis that was entered into on March 22nd, 2006. Although it does have a provision for modifications, I don't think it's contemplated that we would make a major deviation from the current contract. Currently, Mr. Lewis is supposed to be paying $2,500 per month and there was discussion about reducing that in half and then also the (city) taking over the swimming pool which Mr. Lewis currently has to manage. My feeling is that because this is such a major deviation from the contract, the city would probably have to re-let that contract if they were going to do that and if Mr. Lewis opts to say he is going to terminate his agreement with the city then I think the city has no option other than re-letting and let others vie for that contract. You're talking about a significant deviation from the contract. This contract goes through 2017 and there is no provision to have that big a deviation so I feel like that it would be ill advised for the city to deviate and make those major changes since other people may want to vie for that contract."

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