Questions remain about the future of the city-run Columbus golf program as the Parks and Recreation Department begins its second week managing of the Greenbelt and Par 3 golf courses.
Members of the Columbus Park Board called a special meeting Wednesday to discuss job descriptions and salary ranges of the up to 23 golf-related employees the city will need to hire to complete the transition back into a managerial role of the two courses.
The board approved the salary ranges at its August meeting and, at its October meeting, three of the job descriptions — for a golf pro/manager, for part-time maintenance laborers and for part-time concessions workers.
However, board members still had questions about some job and salary requirements, particularly for the golf pro/manager who will run the courses for the city.
The parks department is requiring all candidates for that position to hold a Class A PGA membership, which is obtained through three to five years of golf education courses, covering topics such as course management and turf maintenance.
Board members previously expressed concern over whether requiring a PGA membership was necessary, but parks director Mark Jones and sports manager Nikki Montembeault told the board that only those people who hold a PGA membership can be considered golf professionals.
Most municipal golf courses are run by golf professionals, Montembeault said, so in order to stay competitive, the parks department should have the same requirements for its manager.
The job description also requests candidates be a PGA certified professional, although that is not required.
A certified professional takes a PGA membership one step further by going through an intensive certification program, Montembeault said. The certification is a step above a Class A membership and certifies individuals in four areas:
While a professional certification is not required for the golf pro/manager position, Montembeault said the preference was included in the job description in an effort to attract high-quality candidates.
Board vice president David Jones and member Justin Hohn questioned the city’s ability to pay for such highly trained professionals.
Across the country, Class A PGA members earned from $50,000 to $90,000 annually, while those with the certification earned $90,000 or more, David Jones said.
The approved salary range for the golf pro/manager position is $39,838 to $56,911.
But because the certification is only a preference, board president Amy Kleinert said, the likelihood of having to pay a higher-end salary is slim.
But if the preference is included in the description, David Jones countered, then the board should seriously consider whether the city could pay more to hire a certified candidate.
Based on her discussions with Mark Jones and Montembeault, Kleinert said she is confident the department will hire someone with the qualifications to successfully run the courses while still meeting the approved salary range.
“They understand that this is not going to get them the gold star,” she said.
The issue was further confused when City Attorney Jeff Logston mentioned that there is a possibility of a change in the way the city awards comp time and overtime to its employees in 2016. Although no decision has been made, the change would likely mean that city departments would have to re-evaluate certain salaries.
David Jones said initially that he had intended to make a motion to amend the previously approved golf salary ranges at Wednesday’s meeting. However, based on the information Logston shared, Jones said, he now thinks it would make more sense to wait and see if the change occurs before adjusting the salaries.
He also said the board and parks department needed to discuss a clearly defined exit strategy in case the golf courses fail to generate enough revenue to keep the city from losing money.
Ultimately, the board chose to take no action at the meeting, which left the job descriptions and salary ranges unchanged.
Salary ranges approved by the Columbus Park Board for its city-run golf operation:
Golf pro/manager: $39,838 to $56,911
Golf mechanic: $15.93 per hour to $22.76 per hour
Golf greens superintendent: $14.26 per hour to $20.37 per hour
Golf part-time maintenance grounds laborer (10): $7.95 per hour to $11.36 per hour
Golf part-time clubhouse/concessions attendants (10): $9.60 per hour to $13.71 per hour
The Park Board still needs to approve job descriptions for a golf mechanic, who would service golf course equipment, and a greens superintendent, who would oversee the maintenance of the courses.
Mark Jones said the parks and recreation department would like to have those positions filled in mid- to late November, which means the descriptions will likely be up for board approval at the November meeting.