Shellharbour golf course The Links costs ratepayers $7m

The Links, at Shell Cove, which has been an expensive asset, according to a new report.
The Links, at Shell Cove, which has been an expensive asset, according to a new report.

A golf course that was supposed to cost Shellharbour ratepayers nothing has now cost them $7 million - and counting, according to Shellharbour City councillor Peter Moran.

On Tuesday night Shellharbour City councillors will be given two reports relating to The Links, Shell Cove's golf course.

One is a confidential report on the council's search for a new operator to take on the hotel and golf course lease.

The second, which is not confidential, outlines the cost of the course to the council since 2004, when the facility was brought onto the council's books as an asset.

Before 2004, expenditure - including the $10.1 million to build the facility - was accounted for by the Shell Cove project, a joint venture between the council and Australand.

The council has managed the facility since April 2008 when the lease with a previous operator was terminated.

In a balance sheet to be tabled for councillors on Tuesday, figures show the council's expenditure on The Links to the end of June 2013 was $17.1 million, comprising operating costs of $13.1 million and capital works of $4 million.

Income received during the period the council has managed the facility was $10.8 million.

Cr Moran said the golf course had value as an asset but not as a golf course.

"The only way The Links has value is if the land is to be sold and used for a purpose other than golfing," Cr Moran said.

"If it had any value as a golf course then we would have been overrun with offers when the expression-of-interest process began in May 2011.

"The Links has been a drain on our finances - the only way to recover those costs is to look into its value as a use other than as a golf course."

Over the past four years The Links' reported operational losses have been $383,907 (2009-10), $368,200 (2010-11), $346,782 (2011-12) and $510,000 (2012-13). The council said the facility's performance had improved over the past year to the point where the council's cash subsidy for 2013-14 was expected to be down to around $150,000.

Cr Saliba said the old Shellharbour golf course, which was replaced by The Links, cost the council over $150,000 a year to run.

"I see The Links remaining as a golf course. It is an asset that belongs to Shellharbour City and I see it as a long-term tourist attraction," Cr Saliba said.

"It is a really nice place for us to have in our city."

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