Boca Raton officials vote to acquire money losing golf course

Boca Raton Country Club

Last night, the Boca Raton City Council voted unanimously to acquire a donated golf course now known as the Boca Raton Country Club located just north of Yamato Road on Congress Avenue. The vote would cause the golf course to go from private to public use, starting in October 2021. Even though all admitted the course would lose money for city taxpayers, there has not been a consensus to how much each year the course would lose.

This acquisition is besides an obligation the City of Boca Raton made to the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Parks District for the failed 212-acre Ocean Breeze golf course on NW 2nd Avenue. This is surprising to many residents, as money for Ocean Breeze was supposed to be coming from the failed $73 million sale of their golf course on Glades Road just west of the Florida Turnpike. Over the years, that golf course has been proposed to be sold to Kenco, Lennar, and GL Homes, but all propositions have failed to perform a closing. The latest is GL Homes will close on the Boca Raton Municipal Golf Course in April 2022 for $66 million, and the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Parks District is out on its own for Ocean Breeze.

As for the Ocean Breeze golf course, either the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District will move forward with its plans to develop the golf course as Boca National or change its plans and make it some other recreational property for public use.

There are many studies on why municipalities should not own golf courses, as they are often a bad financial asset for taxpayers. Adrian Moore of Reason offered, “They serve no public interest that is not already served well by the private sector. Indeed, they are most often a nice subsidy for relatively wealthy golfers, paid for by all the non-golfing taxpayers. A lot of local governments are selling their golf courses, and more are at least hiring a private firm to run the golf course and stop it bleeding red ink.”

Reason offers a “how-to” guide to privatizing municipal golf courses. Karl Dickey, Chair of the Libertarian Party of Palm Beach County, said this morning, “We have been supportive of the City’s efforts to sell the municipal golf course west of the Turnpike, yet to turn around and put good money into money losing assets makes little sense. The city should take next year’s windfall from GL Homes and lower taxes for taxpayers or use the money to retire some debt bond obligations and raise the city’s reserves.”

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