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Sun, April 21

Antelope makes its case for fee hike

PRESCOTT – Antelope Hills Golf Course’s general manager and superintendent on Tuesday made a strong case for a modest increase in green fees and cart prices at the complex for fiscal year 2006, and the two inched ever closer to their goal.

At its regular study session Tuesday afternoon, the Prescott City Council considered approval for a revised plan to raise rates by 10-15 percent for rounds of golf at city-owned Antelope Hills.

If the council approves the new fee schedule, which it is expected to do next week, the updated charges would go into effect Aug. 1.

Over the past decade, Antelope Hills has averaged a fee increase of 50 cents per year, said first-year course general manager Paul Parker.

“In this coming budget, in real dollars, we have less money to operate and improve the conditions of the golf course than we did 10 years ago,” Parker said.

After examining the course’s revenue within the past year – which jumped by 10 percent over the previous year – Parker said that the course still faces a “revenue shortfall” in FY 2006.

Parker added that he and Antelope Hills course superintendent Vernon Lewis trimmed $50,000 out of the facility’s budget to lessen the shortfall.

The pair said that with the cost of affluent water rising every year (from $20,000 per year a decade ago to $185,000 in 2005) and the need for at least six more grounds crewmen (from the current 18 to 24), the course has taken a major hit in the wallet.

“We tried to look at everything we could do to structure the rate increase so that it would be as fair and equitable as possible,” said Parker, who projects another 10 percent spike in Antelope’s revenue for the coming year.

The debate on whether or not to increase green fees at the course for residents (those living in Yavapai County) and non-residents alike has dragged on for weeks.

Parker said that he and his staff met twice with the golf course’s seven-member advisory committee, most recently this past Thursday, and made more than 18 changes to their original proposal.

Six of the committee’s seven members attended the July 14 meeting. One member was absent and didn’t vote, but the committee still approved the increase, 4-2. Of the four that gave thumbs-up to the hike, three represent the course’s golf associations – organizations that have 500-plus members apiece.

The committee took Antelope Hills players’ feedback into consideration when structuring the rate hike, which was originally slated to rise 30-35 percent.

In the beginning of the process, city officials said that a higher rate was necessary to ensure proper maintenance of the course. They added that they needed to raise more than $300,000 to accomplish this task.

However, at the behest of local golfers, the city has twice adjusted the rate-hike proposal.

Under its newest proposed fee schedule, the city would generate an additional $280,000 in revenue for the course.

Parker said that because of the adjusted price increase and the fact that maintenance costs continue to rise, another jump in course fees will be on the table again in the near future.

“It does not include any capital improvements or any new equipment purchases,” Parker said of the $280,000 budget figure. “Every month we look at our revenues and expenses, and adjust them as we go. That’s what we’re going to have to do again this year.”

In any event, on weekdays, resident golfers under the new plan would at most pay $5 more than they did before for an 18-hole round of golf.

The fee schedule that went to the council this week included a $3 increase for 18 holes on weekdays, upping the price from $22 to $25.

Cart rental would also go up by $2, from $11 to $13.

On summer weekends, from May 1 to Oct. 31, an 18-hole round would jump to $30. A cart would cost $13.

For non-residents, the latest fee schedule stipulates that they pay $40 for 18 holes and $15 for a cart, placing the grand total for one round of golf at $55.

In addition, as part of the new plan, every Tuesday afternoon the course will offer senior citizens ages 60 and over the chance to play 18 holes with a cart for $18.

Contact the reporter at dcook@prescottaz.com

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