Calhoun County Council and county staff recently discussed possible use rates for its golf course with an eye toward keeping rates competitive in an effort to encourage local use of the course.
"The course is looking good," Calhoun County Administrator Lee Prickett said during an April 11 council work session. "The course has the potential to be a fine course."
Temporary rate recommendations suggested through June 30 (until an established budget for the course is finalized for the new fiscal year beginning July 1) were $20 to include golf cart for a weekday play and $28 including golf cart for a weekend play. Nine holes would be half the cost.
Golf tournaments with 30 people or more would be charged about $18 per player under one proposal.
Annual premium membership rates suggested were about $1,400 a year with 10 percent discounts included for county taxpayers and seniors over 62. It was suggested the membership rates could include the use of the banquet facility and other benefits.
It was also suggested free golf days be offered and that children under the age of 16 will be able to golf for free.
Other suggestions included arties wanting to use the golf course's banquet room could rent it for $500 with an additional $100 fee for use of the pro-shop.
The estimate for the county's annual budget for the golf course is between $325,000 and $350,000.
The rates and budget were only discussed and not voted upon during the work session.
Council members also stressed that the golf course should not be identified as a country club any longer. The general consensus was to name the golf course the Calhoun Hills Golf Complex.
The golf course, which was purchased by the county earlier this year for approximately $300,000, has been operating with a temporary staff from the county as the county determines the course's annual budget.
Councilman Ken Westbury questioned if any applications have been taken for employment positions at the course.
County Human Resource Director Brandy Roberson said one person has been hired for the desk and other duties have been allocated to about six staff members.
"We do have some applications," Roberson said, noting jobs have been posted for the grounds maintenance positions.
She says one person has been hired to staff the front desk but other staffing has not been advertised.
"We have no budget yet or a job description," Roberson said, expressing her hesitancy to advertise incomplete information at this point in time.
Westbury said he would like to advertise internally for a week to give county employees, who may want to change jobs, first preference
Prickett suggested that until a firm budget is put in place, a full-time person be hired to work on the grounds along with three part-time employees through the summer.
Despite the county's recent purchase, Roberson said the course is active with three tournaments scheduled through early June.
The golf course had a soft opening April 12 with a grand opening scheduled for the middle of May.
Prickett suggested a scope of operations and marketing for the course will need to be determined.
"What is our main focus: local play or outside play?" he said.
Council also heard from Enterprise Fleet Management about its desire to engage the county with its services to help purchase, maintain and sell the county's vehicle fleet, including its sheriff office vehicles.
Enterprise would help the county ensure its vehicles are properly maintained according to required schedules and resold within the proper and strategic market. Vehicle purchases can be customized according to a government's needs.
The company does not include emergency vehicle leases.
Enterprise Senior Account Executive Kris Whiteside noted an overview of the county's fleet showed about 25 percent of its vehicles are more than 10 years old with average monthly maintenance costs of $112.
Currently, the county has about 61 vehicles with a total budget to include maintenance, fuel and purchase costs about $430,000 a year, Whiteside said.
If hired, the company would seek to help replace the county's 20 oldest vehicles, of which 11 are sheriff's office vehicles within the next 10 years.
Whiteside there would be estimated savings of about $389,000 over the 10-year period or $7,000 savings per year.
Currently, the company has worked with the Regional Medical Center, Claflin University and the Bamberg County detention center to name a few local entities.
Other counties that have benefited from the company's services include Kershaw and Williamsburg sheriff's departments, and the City of Chester's police department.
Council also discussed the possibility of implementing a countywide youth gymnastics program to be held at the John Ford Community Center.
The proposed program would be open to children ages 4-12 and would include a summer session and an academic year session of 40 weeks. About 10 children would be per session or a total of 60 kids for the program.
Recreation Department Director Tyrone Dantzler noted the start-up cost would include the need to renovate two rooms at the John Ford center to include the renovation into one studio to allow for tumbling and gymnastics, new painting and flooring and mirrors, benches and storage.
"The instructor as well as the parents want to see competitive gymnastics ... where we can compete with other counties," Dantzler said, noting parents have expressed concerns that they have to take children to Columbia for any gymnastics activities.
The estimated cost for the renovations would be about $10,000.
In other business, the county will consider the possibility of entering into opioid litigation that would entail suing pharmaceutical companies and distributors for costs resulting from the opioid abuse epidemic.
Prickett said the county did not have any cost estimates of the opioid impact on the county but says research will be done to determine the nature of the impact.
Council will hear from Columbia-based law firm Whetstone, Perkins and Fulda LLC related to the matter during an upcoming council meeting.