County pays golf course debt, first step in critical year

With each passing day, 2018 feels more and more like a make-or-break year for the White Deer Golf Complex.

The Lycoming County Commissioners last week voted to pay off all debts related to the golf complex – a $439,000 settlement.

They are considering using natural gas impact fees to pay at least a portion of the debt if it is determined that is a legal use for the impact fee funding.

That marks Step One in this year of golf complex decision making.

The next step, in our view, is to determine whether the golf complex can break even this year or even do better with its contracted manager, Billy Casper Golf.

If that does not appear possible, the commissioners need to determine if it’s a shortcoming of the managers or the golf complex.

And then they need to decide whether to replace the managers or sell the complex for reuse as a golfing operation or something else.

We may be oversimplifying the situation, but it should at least be clear that decisions have to be made this year about the golf complex and the property on which it rests.

It’s valuable property that could bring in fresh revenue to the county, which is an absolute necessity given the shrinking surplus on the county’s books.

The option of a golf complex open to the public is a viable one, but the certainty is that such an operation has to be able to stand on its own fiscal feet.

The commissioners have cleared the debt, so this is an ideal year to find out whether a public golf complex can be operated successfully in Lycoming County.

And whatever that answer is, the commissioners need to prepare to act accordingly.