By Ashley Rader
Although a loan was ruled out-of-bounds by Tennessee officials, the Elizabethton Municipal Golf Course still appears set to receive financial assistance after city council gave approval on first reading to a contribution of $160,000 to cover the course’s outstanding debts.
Council originally had been presented with a resolution to authorize a loan to the golf course for the $160,000. However, Finance Director and Interim City Manager Jerome Kitchens said the Tennessee comptroller’s office told him it would be impossible for the city to do a loan for the golf course.
Kitchens said the comptroller told him the city could not loan the course money for operational expenses unless it were repaid within the same budget year. The debts for the golf course were prior year charges, and Kitchens said the golf course officials had told him there was no way the money could be repaid in the same year.
He said the comptroller advised that the best option would be for the city to contribute the funding for the outstanding bills from the retained earnings balance.
The course has $158,539 in unpaid bills, which includes $58,250 to vendors, a $40,000 line of credit to Carter County Bank, $51,304 in payroll tax liabilities, $6,584 in state sales tax due and $2,400 in Tennessee unemployment. The golf course also has a $30,000 note due to the city.
Kitchens said ideally the contribution would have conditions attached to it, but that the transfer of funds could not be structured as a loan.
He said he would anticipate that any future agreements would involve the return of the city’s money from the golf course.
“The golf course is looking for help and they are willing to accept conditions,” Kitchens said. “They understand future assistance may rely on pledges to repay. They understand they need the public’s support to keep the operations going at the course.”