Brevard votes to get out of the golf business

Brevard County government will have shed its unprofitable golf course operations completely, possibly by late summer, if officials can work out an agreement with Golf Brevard, a prospective nonprofit management organization.

“I know we want to get out of the golf business, but I want to get out of the golf business a lot quicker than this Letter of Intent (with Golf Brevard) puts us in,” County Commissioner John Tobia told his colleagues last week. Tobia, of Palm Bay, represents the commission’s District 3, which includes the county’s South Beaches, home of the Spessard Holland Golf Course, and Grant-Valkaria, home of The Habitat course. Both courses have been losing money in recent years, as has the county’s third course, The Savannahs, on Merritt Island.

On March 20, the commission:

  • Voted 5-0 on Tobia’s motion to work with Golf Brevard on an agreement to lease Spessard Holland and The Habitat, starting sometime before Oct. 1. Golf Brevard offered to start Jan. 1, 2019, but commissioners wanted to begin earlier.
    Tobia said Golf Brevard should be able to start “in a couple of weeks.” But Tom Becker of Indialantic, chairman of Golf Brevard’s steering committee, said Golf Brevard needs to incorporate as a nonprofit group and hire a manager. That can’t be done in a month, he said.
    The commission’s vote directed County Manager Frank Abate and either the retiring County Attorney Scott Knox or interim County Attorney Eden Bentley to work with Becker on how much the county should loan Golf Brevard to cover transition costs, deferred maintenance and potential losses.
  • Voted 4-1 on Commissioner Jim Barfield’s motion to approve a Letter of Intent with Sonia Bosinger, an attorney representing The Savannahs at Sykes Creek Homeowners’ Association. Tobia dissented.
    That deal calls for the course to revert to the association’s ownership and the commission to create a community-development district. The district would lease the course from the association for 25 years. The county would then pay the district $350,000 to cover deferred maintenance, plus a second $350,000 a year later. The county would also provide a $1.2 million line of credit to cover operations and capital improvements, to be repaid over 15 years at 2.75 percent.

“And we agree not to sell for (at least) 10 years or until the line of credit is repaid in full,” Bosinger said.

But Tobia said that would leave the county paying the course’s expenses again while courts deal with an injunction the association would file.

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