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Red Wing ponders selling its golf course

Selling the Mississippi National Golf Links property could save Red Wing some $200,000 a year, city officials say -- and they're interested in making the sale.

Selling the Mississippi National Golf Links property could save Red Wing some $200,000 a year, city officials say -- and they're interested in making the sale.

Red Wing City Council members on Monday said they plan to negotiate with golf course operator Wendell Pittinger -- who leases the property from the city -- and see if he'd be on board to sell the course.

City officials are looking to cut up to 15 percent of their 2009 budget to deal with a cash shortfall they expect may continue in the coming years.

By selling the property, Red Wing wouldn't have to pay for course maintenance or improvements, city officials said.

"It sure would save us a lot of money," Council member Dean Hove said.

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City Finance Director Marshall Hallock agreed, saying the savings would be "nothing to sneeze at."

According to a city memorandum, Pittinger would have to agree to the sale and terminate his lease contract, which is set to expire in 2038, in order for the deal to go through.

Pittinger told the R-E Monday he has yet to hear much from the city on the prospect of a sale.

If an agreement cannot be reached, City Council Administrator Kay Kuhlmann said the city could cut some expenses by not undertaking course improvements. The city, however, would have a moral obligation to improvements to ensure the safety of the course's patrons, she said.

The city would still be charged with the course's upkeep, which cost Red Wing $106,837 in 2008 and is expected to run $114,000 this year.

City officials noted it's not a good time to sell a golf course with regard to making a large profit, but said they consider the move a cost-saving measure.

The city's memorandum said, "The question is can the city continue to spend $200,000 a year of tax payer dollars to support this golf course with little hope of recovering any of the annual contribution or capital cost until the termination of the lease in 2038" -- at which point the course could be sold.

The city's lease with Pittinger was set to expire in 2026 before the council agreed to restructure it last May.

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The actual sale of the property would have to be approved by the council at a future meeting.

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