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Fri, Nov. 15

City sees few oppose golf rate increase

PRESCOTT – Weeks of negotiations over a proposed rate hike at the city-owned Antelope Hills Golf Course apparently helped to ease the opposition of golfers.

At their study session Tuesday, Prescott City Council members heard limited opposition to the proposed 10 percent to 15 percent increase in the cost of playing golf at the municipal course.

Although several did urge the city to look into water-saving

measures, such as low-water-use landscaping, only two golfers voiced objections: one to complain about the rate increase, and another to question how the city structures its non-resident rate.

Local golfer Jim Swan maintained that golf rates had “increased threefold” since he first started playing at Antelope Hills, and that the city continued to impose more restrictions on its multiple-play cards. “You keep taking things away from us,” Swan told the council.

And golfer Chuck Wilson had questions about the way the city handles its non-resident rate. Currently, the city charges a higher rate for golfers from outside Yavapai County. But Wilson asked why the non-resident rates do not apply as well to people living in Yavapai County, but outside city limits.

City Councilman Steve Blair noted that the city previously tried to distinguish between Prescott golfers and those who live outside city limits through the use of a “resident” identification card. The cards ultimately became one of the city’s “biggest fiascoes,” Blair said, adding that many county residents who live outside city limits shop in Prescott, pay the city’s sales taxes, and own businesses in the city.

The course’s manager, Paul Parker, kicked off Tuesday’s discussion by noting that he had the “unenviable task” of going to the council for a rate hike only about a year after he started in the manager’s job.

Parker acknowledged that the city’s initial proposal to raise rates by about 30 percent to 35 percent generated plenty of opposition. Since then, he said, city officials had met several times with golfers and with the Golf Course Advisory Committee to try to come up with a more palatable plan. At a meeting this past week, the committee voted 4-2 to support the rate-hike proposal, he said.

The fee schedule that Parker took to the council this week includes a $3 increase for a weekday 18-hole round of golf – from $22 to $25. In addition, the cost of a cart would go up by $2 – from $11 to $13 – boosting by $5 the total cost for a round of golf with a cart.

That is down from the city’s original proposal, which would have raised the rate for 18 holes of golf to $30, and

$13 for a cart.

On summer weekends (May 1 through Oct. 31), the rate still would be $30 for an 18-hole round of golf, and $13 for a cart.

The proposed fee schedule also included a return to the non-resident rate. Although city officials had earlier suggested doing away with that special rate, they agreed to restore it after hearing from local golfers.

And City Councilman Bob Roecker suggested that the city should go even further in its non-resident rates. “I think we should nick the non-

residents an extra $5,”

Roecker said, adding that he doubted that the higher rate would discourage out-of-towners from golfing at Antelope Hills.

But Parker pointed out that the $55 non-resident rate

($40 for a round of golf and $15 for a cart) already discourages some out-of-town golfers from playing at the municipal course.

And Mayor Rowle Simmons cautioned against making minor last-minute changes to the fee schedule, after city officials and golfers had worked on it for weeks. “We would be remiss to start revisiting all of these individual deals,” he

said.

Through the rate hike, the city expects to raise about $280,000 in additional revenue at Antelope Hills. Officials had originally maintained that the course needed to make up more than $300,000 in a revenue shortfall. Now, because of the adjustments to the fees, Parker said the course would have to cut about $50,000 out of its budget.

He said the cuts likely would result in a less-

frequent mowing of the course, less fertilization, and a reduction in seasonal employees.

The council will vote on the new fee schedule at its July 26 meeting. If approved, the new fees would go into effect on Aug. 1.

Contact the reporter at cbarks@prescottaz.com

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