Golf course cost rocket

A BLOWOUT of $7 million on the Links Shell Cove golf course was tabled at the latest Shellharbour City Council meeting.

A report on council expenditure on the Links, since 2000, went before the council at last week's meeting. Consistent losses have been reported since the council took over management of the facility, despite ratepayers being told the operation of the golf course would come at no cost.

The facility has been on the council's asset books since 2004 - before that expenditures were accounted for by the Shell Cove project.

The council took over management of the facility in 2008 after the finalisation of the lease with Shellharbour Links Pty Ltd.

Figures in the report show council expenditure on the Links from 2000 to June 2013 was $17.1 million and income received during that period was $10.8 million, leaving $7 million..

However councillor Peter Moran said the costs could be "well north" of $12 million since its inception.

"The cost to the community seems to be $7 million, but that's if we don't take into account the expressions of interest costs, blow outs in the recent financial years' operating losses and the $5.05 million that council contributed to the construction of the facility," Cr Moran said.

"That is very much a different statement than to say to the community that this will never cost you a cent. That is a disgraceful outcome.

"In the long run we see nothing but further losses and a further drain on the public purse."

In May 2011 council moved a motion to seek expressions of interest for the management of the facility. A report on that went before councillors in closed council.

Cr Paul Rankin said previous reports indicated if the council kept poker machines, when it cook control, the golf course would be back in the black.

"If it had have been done right, perhaps it would have been profitable right from the word go," Cr Rankin said.

Mayor Marianne Saliba said the golf course has multiple benefits.

"It provides an outlet for our community and our tourists, it provides job opportunities, training opportunities and a place for social inclusion."

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