Lycoming County to vote Thursday on White Deer contract with Billy Casper

An agreement renewal with Billy Casper Golf will be up for vote later this week, allowing the management company to hold onto the reigns at the White Deer Golf Complex for up to another three years should the Lycoming County commissioners approve it.

The contract includes verbage that allows the county to back out at any time should the company not turn a profit, or stay in and have Billy Casper pay the difference, said Commissioner Jack McKernan.

“That, to me, sounds like a good solution to where we’re at,” he said. “Billy Casper has done a good job.”

After raking in over $68,083 through the end of October, almost double last year’s earnings of $39,363 through the same time period despite the rain, McKernan and Commissioner Tony Mussare are willing to renew the contract in the hopes that better weather and growing membership will make for good profits in 2019.

Having such a wet season drove down the rounds played, but the average number of golfers on fair-weather days “increased dramatically,” Mussare said.

As of the end of October, there were 41,674 rounds played versus 49,403 played by that time in 2017, he said.

Commissioner Rick Mirabito said he does not want to renew at this time, but instead thinks the county and Billy Casper need to get together to come up with a new way to finance the course.

“There’s no point in signing a management agreement without a way to pay for it,” he said.

He proposed a few options for bringing in more revenue and taking the golf course off the backs of the taxpayers, including increasing membership fees or selling off a portion of the course.

The county is contractually obligated to keep a minimum of $50,000 “in the bank” for the golf course in order to make sure bills and other needs are met even in the slow winter months. About $350,000 has gone toward this contractual obligation since 2016, according to fiscal services, and it’s come out of the general fund, Mirabito said.

The contract ends March 31, 2019, and the county has to give notice of renewal a minimum of 90 days before that time.

Mussare agreed that the funding, if any is needed, should not come from the taxpayers, and is willing to consider selling off some acreage.

“We’re looking at developers and getting their input, seeing how we could layout the course and eliminate some of the acreage,” he said. “It should be easy to still maintain a nice golf course, but maybe not as many holes.

“The success of this golf course in this coming year is whether or not the taxpayers have to subsidize the course,” he continued. “If they don’t, I’m good no matter how that turns out.”

In another matter, the commissioners approved the $18,960 purchase of two Scan Pro 3000 scanners for the prothonotary’s office and approved a two-year renewal of the Spectra Guard maintenance agreement in the amount of $10,138 on behalf of information services.

They also approved a professional services agreement with Donald Martino to provide legal services for Post-Conviction Relief Act cases at a cost of $2,017 per month for a total of 24 cases.

In other business, the commissioners also will consider an amendment to the agreement with Paul Albert Architect LLC for redesigning the front entrance to the prison, an intergovernmental agreement with Centre County to house pre-trial and post-trial detainees, reappointments and new appointments to the Zoning Hearing board and Planning Commission, personnel actions and more.

The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday in Executive Plaza.

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