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7:41 AM Wed, Dec. 19th

Prescott approves change in authority for golf rates

PRESCOTT - In an attempt to remove politics from the realm of golf rates, the Prescott City Council this week turned over the authority for setting the rates to the city manager.

That action restores the circumstances that existed before 2005, when the City Council set new rates for the municipal Antelope Hills Golf Course by approving a resolution.

Before that, according to a city memo, an earlier city resolution stated, "if rates are not set by the City Code or council action, they can be set by the city manager." By repealing the 2005 resolution, the council reinstated the earlier resolution.

Councilman Jim Lamerson maintained that the change would put the emphasis on effective management of the city's golf course.

Golf rates should be "a management issue, not a political issue," Lamerson said, adding, "We've made it a political issue."

Other council members agreed that the rate decision should lie with the city manager rather than the council.

"This is an issue that seems to come up way too often," Councilman Charlie Arnold said. "It should be entrusted to the city manager."

Along with giving the city manager the authority on rates, this week's move also apparently sets the stage for implementation of a golf rate increase that council members discussed earlier this month.

The city memo noted that repeal of the 2005 resolution would lead to a recommendation to the city manager "that the rates be adjusted as described at the March 6 workshop."

On Wednesday, Antelope Hills Manager Mack McCarley said he likely would meet with City Manager Craig McConnell soon to discuss the proposed rate increases.

At the earlier workshop, McCarley outlined a rate increase that would add $2 for greens fees and $1 for cart rentals.

Local residents currently pay a total of $38 for golf and a cart, and McCarley is proposing raising the rate to $41. For those who golf without a cart, the rate would go from $24 to $26.

While the implementation date for the rate increases still is uncertain, McCarley noted, "We're shooting for May 1."

Since the proposed rate increases were first announced, McCarley said he has received mostly positive feedback from golfers.

"Most golfers understand that the golf course is losing money," McCarley said. "And even with the $2 increase, golf is still a bargain at Antelope Hills."

Even as council members unanimously approved the authority change on Tuesday, they also urged city staff members to look into long-term solutions for the golf course.

In past discussions, council members have suggested changes ranging from turning the management of the course over to a private firm, to making the golf course a function of the city's general fund rather than its current status as a separate "enterprise fund."

McConnell said Friday that future discussion of possible changes in the golf course management likely would be a part of the city's upcoming budget discussions for the 2012-13 fiscal year, which begins on July 1.