Rochester council ready for next round of golf debate – mail bulletin

ROCHESTER – Rochester’s municipal golf courses are closed for the winter, but debate about their future is still in play.

The Rochester City Council is scheduled to review a proposal Monday afternoon designed to allocate $500,000 annually to golf operations and track improvements, while preserving four city-owned courses.

The plan was supported by a 4-1 vote on the Rochester Park Council earlier this month.

The recommendation calls for generating $250,000 in new annual revenue by 2025 through fee increases and sets a goal to allocate $250,000 annually in property tax funds to the city’s golf program, beginning in 2024.

The funds will provide $100,000 per year for operations and $400,000 for facility maintenance and upgrades.

In recent years, the annual golf tax investment has ranged from zero to $666,000, based on specific improvement projects, and the income and expenses earned during the year.

At the same time, many local golfers said during recent public participation sessions that they consider the current season’s ticket prices to be a bargain, and expressed their support for an increase in golf fees.

The proposal calls for an increase in the price of seasonal passes by 20% in the next year, followed by an increase of 14% and 12% in subsequent years before achieving a 3% annual increase to cover expected inflation.

The cost of day tours for people without season passes will rise 10% next year, followed by a 6% increase in 2024 and a 3% annual increase based on inflation starting in 2025.

The proposed increases are based on golf activity recorded over the past five years, which included a pre-pandemic decrease in rounds played and a post-pandemic increase, said Paul Weidman, director of Rochester Parks and Recreation.

Citing uncertainty about future activity, he said the proposed rate adjustments are not static and can be adjusted to address any changes in usage and still meet the $250,000 annual goal of increasing course revenue.

The plan follows a request by the council in February for a review of golf operations and a proposal to improve the city’s program.

Options provided through the review included the possibility of closing a course or modifying at least one of the courses. Another option is to maintain current spending practices, which are expected to deteriorate the city’s cycles.

It is estimated that the city will need to pay $43 million to build new courses with clubhouses to match the four they currently occupy.

He said regular improvements and investment in resources would be necessary to maintain the value of the courses and facilities.

“Even if we think we need to invest at the 50-year level and that’s a way out of that level — it’s not the normal amortization period you see in something like that — that means you have to invest $862,000 a year,” he said of a strategy that would replace Lost value over a period of 50 years.

He said the average annual investment in improvements over recent years has not kept pace with the needs at golf courses.

The Council is expected to hear the report and respond to the proposal during a consideration session at 3:30 PM Monday in the Council Chambers of the City Government Center, 151 Fourth Street SE.

The council will not be able to make a final decision on the golf proposal during a study session, but a decision may be sought during a regular council meeting in December or January.

Meetings scheduled for the week of November 28 include:

Rochester

• City Council Study Session, 3:30 PM Monday in City Council Chambers – County Center, 151 Fourth Street SE. The meeting will be broadcast live at www.rochestermn.gov/meetings/council-meetings and will be available on Spectrum Cable channel 180 or 188 and Metronet channel 80.

• Police Civil Service Commission, 1 p.m. Tuesday in Room 164B of the Development and Infrastructure Services Center, 4001 West River Parkway.

• The Planning and Division Authority, at six in the evening, Wednesday, in the rooms of the Government Center Board of Directors.

Olmsted County

• Committee on Health, Housing and Human Services, at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in Conference Room No. 2 of the City/County Government Center.

• The Administrative Committee at 2:00 pm Thursday in the Government Center’s Board of Directors rooms.

• The Urban Development Committee, at 2:00 pm, Thursday, in Meeting Room 4 at the Government Center.

• The Council of the Governorate Commissioners, at 3:00 pm, Thursday, in the rooms of the Government Center’s Board of Directors.

• Meeting of the Truth in Taxes, at 6 pm, Thursday, in the rooms of the Government Center’s Board of Directors.

• Planning Advisory Committee, 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Conference Room A at 2122 Campus Drive SE.

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