Two months after the acquisition of Magnolia Ridge Golf Course, now known as the Liberty Municipal Golf Course, the Liberty Economic Development Corporation continues eyeing costs for repairs and renovations as it prepares for the next fiscal year.
“On everything, not counting the acquisition cost of $300,000, the city has spent about $88,824 so far,” Liberty Interim City Manager Larry Shaw told the EDC board at the Aug. 7 meeting.
Repaving the parking lot at the golf clubhouse is projected to cost between $50,000 to $60,000, a substantial portion of the $256,000 allocated in the EDC budget for the golf course repairs.
Shaw said he didn’t want to paint a “rosy picture” for EDC by giving the impression that the city would ever break even on the golf course but reminded them that many of the repairs being made are not recurring and are one-time-only expenses.
EDC board member Leslie Herndon questioned the wisdom of transferring the golf course renovation funds into the city’s coffers as it was presented in the EDC’s proposed budget. Herndon told the board she did not feel comfortable with the money being transferred and suggested the EDC board approve purchases as they arise. A vote was taken and unanimously approved by the EDC board members to keep the money in the EDC account.
In other business, the interim city manager asked the board to consider a few projects he feels are imperative for the city’s economic growth, including a new hotel, additional hangars at the airport and a rail line that can be used by Boomerang and other manufacturers.
“This town desperately needs a hotel. I would encourage you to recruit a hotel to come and build in Liberty, Texas,” he said. “Hire someone who knows what they are doing and can tell you what it will take as incentives to get them here.”
Regarding the rail line, Shaw suggested that the city hire a consultant to work with Boomerang’s consultant to determine the best way to proceed.
Shaw said the city should continue building on three of its strengths – the rail line, highways and airport, adding that the airport needs more hangars and a runway extension.
“We are maxed out on hangars. You might want to entertain the idea of building more,” he said.
Extending the runway has proven to be challenging, he said, because one of the property owners in the path of the extension is holding out for a higher purchase price.
EDC board member Dr. David Arnold asked Shaw his opinion about having a full-time director for the EDC since the responsibility now for the EDC falls on the city manager. Shaw said his budget for the next fiscal year includes the creation of an assistant manager position who would be able to help the city manager.
“The job would be on hold until after a new city manager is in place,” he added.
He told the EDC board they should consider ways of expanding the city’s income portfolio, as much of it relies on Walmart and Boomerang remaining in the city.
“Walmart is very capable of picking up and moving to the next town,” he said. “Our income portfolio is pretty thin, and we should look into broadening it.”
He then shared information on three potential projects that have expressed an interest in Liberty but will require additional sewer lines that will be costly to the city. The expense would have to be weighed against what the new developments would bring to the city.
“We need to determine our return on these projects. How many jobs are they bringing in? What level of salaries? How much will they add to the tax base?” Shaw said.