SEBRING — Sun ‘N Lake of Sebring’s Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a $11.34 million budget Friday.
They mentioned a few cost items, but one that got significant attention was whether or not the Sun ‘N Lake Golf Club would have enough carts for the upcoming season.
Supervisor Craig Herrick said he heard a new rule would have golfers ride a minimum of two to a cart starting Oct. 1. He was told that would be mandatory, and asked if there were provisions for social distancing and if the district should rent more carts.
It was explained at Friday’s meeting that golfers had been riding two to a cart since June 1 when the Florida chapter of the Professional Golfers Association had said it was OK.
It’s not mandatory, but recommended, said officials from Sun ‘N Lake Golf Course. They had made more revenue over the summer with two to a cart.
Golf Course officials did not know how many more they would need as winter residents return this season, or how much that might cost.
More carts, they said, would mean no grass in some places and a slower pace of play, about which resident members have already complained.
Members tend to own their own carts, know the course and play faster, whereas rental carts are usually visitors finding their way around.
Golf course officials also said some who ride alone in carts then go into the club afterward and sit four to a table for an hour.
Supervisor Mike Gilpin said a similar situation existed early this year with the first pandemic restrictions.
Board President Neal Hotelling said the Golf Committee can discuss things and suggest changes to General Manager Tanya Cannady for board discussion, but doesn’t set policy, and never should.
“Things need to be brought to the Board,” Hotelling said.
Both he and Herrick didn’t think the district and the golf course should mandate two to a cart, and neither did Supervisor Joe Branson.
“I won’t ride in a cart with anybody because I’m severely compromised,” Branson said.
Branson said if the course needs more carts, the district needs to look at renting them before the season starts. That cost is not in the Fiscal Year 2020-21 budget yet.
Cannady said that would definitely affect the budget.
Discussion then centered on whether or not the district’s current cart rental vendor could provide extra carts on short notice or had a service agreement with them.
Other items brought up by the board included payroll and capital items.
Supervisor Raymond Brooks said payroll at Island View Restaurant, the golf course clubhouse, exceeds revenues and asked why that hasn’t been corrected.
“If you wait for customers to come in and not address your payroll, you’re going to have problems,” Brooks said.
Overall, the 2020-21 budget does not have significant changes from this year, District staff said. Assessments are the same: $140 for vacant unimproved lots, $350 for vacant improved lots with water and electric lines already on site, $700 per dwelling and $70 extra per dwelling for being on the golf course.
The budget is balanced, and approximately $100,000 in excess is going into savings for the capital improvement fund.
Some of the small-scale and large-scale capital improvements that are on hold, some until January or later, include new furniture for the clubhouse, road and drainage equipment, high-service pumps and lift station repairs.
Staff is recommending that the Board have an automatic interconnect valve added to the water system. It would alleviate an issue that happened Thursday.
Water pressure dropped from 60 psi on Thursday to 20 psi, thanks to a water main break. It affected AdventHealth Sebring and other medical facilities.
Had the valve been in place, that pressure drop would have been avoided.
The District also needs to spend $5,000-$7,000 to replace the generator at its main office, but will hold that until after Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year.
Supervisors also talked about the purchase of a new “survey cart,” which has equipment to help find underground utilities prior to digging.
Staff told supervisors that they need a new cart to replace the 7-year-old cart they have. Staff did not recommend trading in the old cart. Instead, they want to keep it as a backup.
Branson said he wants to know the trade-in value, which staff agreed to provide. Hotelling said it was his understanding that there is very little trade-in value because it’s old technology.
Staff said the old cart is less accurate than newer carts and has unfortunately caused work crews to hit other lines, one of them CenturyLink internet service provider, which cost the District to repair.
With new construction on the rise in the District, staff said, the need has gone up.
“It seems we always want to buy new toys,” Brooks said.
“We were right on top of wires and didn’t pick them up,” said Mike Hurley, director of Facilities and Security.
As for trade in value, Hurley likened it to a used car: “You think it’s worth money but it’s not.”