Gulf Breeze won’t buy troubled Club II

Renee Bookout says someone phoned her last week to suggest that the City of Gulf Breeze buy the financially strapped Club II tennis and swim facility. But she quickly rejected the idea.

Although known for its investment forays into businesses that include a golf club, a water utility and municipal bonds, the town of 6,000 residents is battling to balance its budget for next year and has no appetite for taking on more debt.

Bookout, a Gulf Breeze city council member and attorney, told her colleagues at a budget workshop on Saturday that the caller who suggested they buy Club II must be unaware of the city’s balance sheet, which shows total debt, mostly long term, of about $20 million – roughly three times the amount currently owed by Santa Rosa County.

“Why don’t they come to our budget meeting?” she joked to her council colleagues.

Turning serious, Bookout remarked, “We learned from Tiger Point Golf Club.” Indeed, the city’s $2.5 million purchase of that money-losing operation in 2012 has haunted it ever since.

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