Tampa Sports Authority golf course deal may save $900K, jeopardize jobs

TAMPA — The jobs for about two dozen public golf course employees are in jeopardy after a governmental body decided Monday to privatize course maintenance.

The Tampa Sports Authority, which operates three city of Tampa golf courses, voted 8-0 to hire OneSource Landscape and Golf Services.

Sports Authority members said it was an offer they couldn't refuse: Switching to a private maintenance company will save a projected $900,000 over the next three years. Given that taxpayers subsidize financial shortfalls at the Sports Authority, which also runs Raymond James Stadium, its board members are looking for ways to save money.

Under terms of the deal, current Sports Authority golf course maintenance employees will get first dibs on jobs with OneSource, though they will have to pass a background check and probationary period. The company does provide health insurance for its employees, Sports Authority officials said.

"Part of the reason we chose this company is, if they can pass background checks, they can get hired by them," said Kennie Sims, the authority's director of golf operations.

The authority spends $1.8 million a year on maintenance of Babe Zaharias, Rogers Park and Rocky Point golf courses — more than half the cost of running the courses, each of which loses money.

The projected savings next year alone is about $250,000 less than what the Sports Authority expects to spend this year.

In addition to the savings, Sports Authority executive director Eric Hart said OneSource is pledging to take better care of the courses. The condition of each has been an on-again, off-again complaint from golfers.

OneSource, based in Tampa, is a subsidiary of ABM Industries of New York. OneSource has maintenance contracts at Sebastian Municipal Golf Course in Sebastian, On Top of the World Golf Course in Clearwater and the Ironwood Golf Course in Gainesville, according to its reference list, and previously did landscaping at Busch Gardens.

"We're very confident in the service we will provide," said president Dale Elkins.

Bill Varian can be reached at (813) 226-3387 or varian@sptimes.com.

Tampa Sports Authority golf course deal may save $900K, jeopardize jobs 04/20/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 20, 2010 1:01am]

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