A Utah County legislator is looking to end the state's involvement in operating golf courses.

Rep. Kay Christofferson, R-Lehi, is working on legislation that would call upon the state to privatize the operations of the state's four golf courses.

"Why are we competing against people that provide that service? Let's put it out for a [proposal] and see if we can get somebody to operate this privately," said Christofferson in an interview with the Daily Herald.

Currently, the state of Utah owns and operates the two popular courses in Wasatch County, Solider Hollow and Wasatch Mountain golf courses, Palisade golf course in Manti and Green River Golf Course in Green River.

Christofferson's bill wouldn't call for the sale of the golf courses but would call upon the state to contract with a private management company to operate and maintain the courses.

According to a 2012 State Parks Report on the golf courses, the state golf system ran in the red to the tune of $1.2 million. The system made $3.3 million in revenue and had only $2.7 million in operating expenses but debt from bonds taken out to improve the courses racked up to $1.3 million pushing the system into the red and costing Utah taxpayers money to subsidize the courses.

By contracting out the management of the courses the state might be able to recoup some of the money lost on the courses.

The Utah Taxpayer's Association is favorable to the legislation. Royce Van Tassell, vice president of the association, said it boggles his mind that taxpayers are subsidizing rounds of golf in the state.

Van Tassell said that Utah could put together an attractive offer for golf course management companies to run the four courses that could prove to be beneficial to the state and to the management companies. He stated the only opposition he could see to the proposal is some within the state may worry about the state jobs that may be lost by privatizing the courses.

"We are thrilled that he has taken this bull by the horns," said Van Tassell.

Christofferson said he is interested at looking at multiple areas within the state government that could be privatized. He said he is running this legislation this year to learn more about the process and then plans to look at other areas of state government in the future.

"I've been in private industry my whole professional career, I've seen the free market forces in work there. I've seen the competitive value of companies going after the same work and how that produces more innovation, reduces costs, increases quality and usually reduces the schedule of activity as well," he said. "I've thought we need to apply that to our government."

The bill is expected to be taken up in the upcoming 2014 legislative session. The session is set to begin on Jan. 27 and will run for 45 days.

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-- Billy Hesterman covers the Utah State Legislature and local politics for the Daily Herald. You can connect with Billy by email at bhesterman@heraldextra.com or by

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