County officially puts Shiloh Springs Golf Course up for sale

Shiloh Springs Golf Course is up for sale with Platte County Commissioners expressing hopes that a local group will come together to take ownership.

Current commissioners Ron Schieber, Dagmar Wood and John Elliott have all voiced concerns about the county-owned course, which has operated at a net loss for many years. The current commission has long stated it intended to seek options with Wood and Elliott running successful campaigns last fall with the sale of Shiloh as a promise. 

Commissioners made good on that promise at the Monday, Aug. 7 commission administrative session, issuing a request for proposals (RFP) for buyers interested in the course, which the county values at about $5.2 million. 

According to Platte County director of parks Daniel Erickson, the county will host three informational meetings for interested parties over the next two months with a proposal deadline of Friday, Oct. 20. Erickson said the county hopes to identify a viable — preferably local — buyer and ensure the county receives a fair return on its investment. 

Constructed in cooperation with developer Gary Martin, the 18-hole 122-acre public course opened in 1995. The partnership with Martin continued for a decade.

In 2005, Platte County became sole owner of the course. 

Over the years, the course was operated by both the county and private management. Construction costs were paid off in 2015, using funds from the half-cent parks and recreation sales tax. Shortly after, the county contracted with KemperSports to take over management of the course, but the county’s only enterprise fund has continued to lose money.

According to the county’s annual financial report, Shiloh’s loss increased last year. 

Operating loss before depreciation was at $144,553 in 2015, but in 2016 the loss rose to $247,448. Auditors reported the loss was a result of the KemperSports contract with the costs of the contract calculated into the loss statement, as were costs of benefits for golf course employees.

Erickson noted the sale of the course was no reflection on the workers at Shiloh Springs.

“We have a lot of dedicated employees that work at Shiloh Springs,” he said.

Platte County second district commissioner Elliott said Monday that the county’s losses at Shiloh will only increase as the course ages.

“If we want to be able to lower the parks tax and fund public safety then we must reduce the burden on the parks tax,” Elliott said.

The commissioners hope the course could remain open under local ownership. Terms of the sale cite that Shiloh Springs must remain a public course for at least five years and must remain available for Platte County R-3 School District golf programs for at least five years, as well. 

Although the county prefers to sell the course, it will also accept lease-purchase and other alternate proposals.

“We believe there are a lot of passionate golfers in Platte County, and a lot of passionate golfers at Shiloh Springs,” Schieber said. “We don’t want to continue to subsidize this service, and we need to see if there’s a better way.

“I’m really hopeful that local people with passion and business expertise will get together on this,” he added. 

Elliott pointed to the Platte County Fair Association as an example of a successful private entity that hosts a public event. 

“They’ve done very well with the fair,” Elliott said. 

Shiloh Springs Golf Club members have been vocal about the future of their club with golfers attending past meetings to voice their concerns. None were present at the Monday meeting, but one local golfer who supports the sale was.

Cliff Harvey, who also serves as the mayor of Weston, Mo., said he is an avid golfer who enjoys golfing at Shiloh Springs. As a member of the Weston Rotary Club, he has helped with the club’s annual tournaments, which are held at Shiloh Springs.

“We (golfers) are just a portion of the citizens,” Harvey said during public comment. “I don’t think it’s fair for all citizens to have to subsidize what I do.”