Politics & Government

Wichita council puts brakes on new golf carts

Amid lingering concerns over cost and the question of gas versus electric, the Wichita City Council on Tuesday pulled a contract to buy new carts off its consent agenda and rescheduled the issue to Sept. 6.
Amid lingering concerns over cost and the question of gas versus electric, the Wichita City Council on Tuesday pulled a contract to buy new carts off its consent agenda and rescheduled the issue to Sept. 6. Courtesy photo

Golfers on Wichita’s city courses will have to wait a little longer for new carts.

Amid lingering concerns over cost and the question of gas versus electric, the Wichita City Council on Tuesday pulled a contract to buy new carts off its consent agenda and rescheduled the issue to Sept. 6.

The consent agenda is used for quick approval of minor and noncontroversial matters, and moving the item from Tuesday’s workshop meeting to a regular meeting will allow the council to discuss the matter in detail and take public comments.

The city golf division is proposing to buy 120 fuel-injected Yamaha gas-powered carts to replace aging electric carts currently in use, at a cost of $446,000.

The purchase would require borrowing money for the golf fund from landfill funds currently slated for the development of a planned park in north Wichita.

City manager Robert Layton said some golfers have expressed concerns about potential environmental effects of gas carts on air quality, so the city wants to obtain more detailed emissions information from the manufacturer before going forward.

Golf manager Troy Hendricks has said the new fuel-injected carts are a vast improvement over older gas-powered carts with carburetor engines and that the emissions are less than the gases that come off the electric carts’ batteries when they boil during recharging.

In addition, the gas-powered carts can easily be used for multiple rounds per day because they can be refueled in minutes and don’t require the three- to nine-hour recharging times the electric carts need, he said.

Council member Bryan Frye said he’s not too concerned about the gas-or-electric question but is worried about the overall cost and the golf enterprise fund borrowing money to pay for it.

Golf revenue is highly dependent on the number of rounds played, and 2016 has been a particularly bad weather year for golf, he said.

“We’ve already got a debt” in the golf enterprise fund, he said. “I want to make sure we’re going through these numbers really well.”

Hendricks said last week that the gas carts, though initially more expensive than electric ones, more than make up the difference with longer useful life spans and lower maintenance costs.

The 14- and 15-year-old carts that are being replaced have all had their batteries changed at least four times at a cost of $600 per replacement, he said.

In addition, the city is getting a break on the price because the new carts the departments want to purchase were used for a couple of weeks to provide transportation around national youth rodeos in Wyoming and Tennessee.

The price for each cart would be about $4,100, with about a $400 discount for the previous use.

New electric carts cost about $3,800 each.

Dion Lefler: 316-268-6527, @DionKansas

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