Monday, July 16, 2012

You Can't Spell Golf Fund Without F-U-N

The Richardson City Council received a presentation from city staff on the financial status of the municipal Sherrill Park Golf Course. Despite increased greens fees this year and an almost 10% increase in revenues compared to this time last year, the city still anticipates needing to transfer $105,000 into the city's Golf Fund to cover expenses. Most of this is due to a recent change in interpretation of the law by the state comptroller requiring the city to pay sales tax on greens fees, which the city had not been collecting before March of this year.

After the jump, why golf can be such a frustrating game.

The city plans to evaluate the structure of the Golf Fund. The goals of the review and my instant reactions follow:

  • Eliminate the need for ongoing transfers into the Golf Fund.

    Sounds reasonable. This probably assumes a goal of having Sherrill Park pay for itself, but I don't see why that has to be a requirement. Are we insisting that the new pocket park in southwest Richardson pay for itself? How about the new Heights Park rec center and swimming pool? How about the new Arapaho Rd gymnastics center? I'm not against jacking up greens fees to get Sherrill Park to break even, or, for that matter, cutting greens fees if that leads to an explosion in rounds and greater revenue (isn't that the eternal promise of more tax cuts?), but if you just can't get there from here, I'm also not against subsidizing golf like we subsidize gymnastics and slow pitch softball and swing sets. We should just admit it and set up the fund that way in the first place.

  • Preserve the existing rate structure

    This sounds like over constraining the solution to the problem. If the existing rate structure is part of the reason Sherrill Park revenues lag, then we ought to be open to changing the existing rate structure.

  • Maintain the quality of the courses

    Wholeheartedly agree. We want quality golf courses. The question is how to pay for them. Cutting back on quality to pay for them defeats the purpose.

  • Retain Ronny Glanton as the Head Golf Professional

    Not necessarily. Remember, the goal should be a quality course at an affordable cost. Ronny Glanton could be a means of achieving that goal, but should not be a goal in and of itself.

  • Increase operational transparency

    Sure. Go ahead. Increase operational transparency in the Golf Fund and every aspect of city operations. My own goal would be to get to a point where this is second nature and doesn't need to be spelled out as a separate bullet point for any part of the city's business.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a tee time to get to. No, I don't. I've never golfed at Sherrill Park. I've never done a back flip at the Heights gymnastics center. But I still support amenities that help to make Richardson an attractive city to live, work, and play.

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