Council approves golf course rates, new superintendent position

At a special meeting on Monday evening, the Common Council approved the Golf Commission’s recommendations for next season’s golf course rates. The rates remain largely unchanged from last year’s rate with a few exceptions.

Michelle Russo, Golf Commission Chairwoman, and Golf Commission member Pam Ritter said that there was a slight increase in cart storage and utilities charges, locker rental charges, tournament cart rental charges and the seasonal unlimited use rate. But otherwise, the rest of the fees will remain the same.

Alderman Ron Barone said he supported keeping the rates mostly unchanged until improvements could be made at the course. He said that he has talked to many golfers who have expressed desire to leave the course, but have not done so because of the prospect of hiring a course superintendent.

“Stabilizing the fees…staying where they are right now, will help until you get this person, whomever it is, in place and they show that they can do the job that should be performed up there anyway, I think it’s a good move on your part,” said Barone.

Later, council members disagreed on the salary range for a new Golf Superintendent position. The original resolution called for a salary range of $45,000 to $65,000 which was a range previously agreed on by the Golf Course Commission. Alderman Ed Russo proposed an amendment reducing the upper range of the salary to $55,000.

Alderman Russo said that he had talked with Chairwoman Russo who he said had called other courses to get information about what they paid their superintendent. Russo said he believed the $55,000 upper limit was more in line with what other courses were paying, as well as the current $49,000 salary of Maintenance Supervisor Jim Derrick.

Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler said she wanted to make sure the course would be able to attract the best candidate.

“I was at the discussion last week at the commission meeting, and they were concerned because the ranges do go up to $80,000 for this position. I would hope that we could get someone who is really well qualified and not be locked into that $55,000 if the individual were looking for something more. I realize we have budget issues but our biggest problem at the course has been maintenance and the condition of the course. If we don’t hire somebody who really knows what they’re doing, well you’ve defeated everything in bringing out the [consultants] from Robert Trent Jones, ” said Hatzenbuhler.

Alderman Ron Barone said he supported the lower range and said believed the salary would still be attractive because working on a Robert Trent Jones designed course would be a “resume booster” for anyone interested in the position. Barone added that he would be willing to consider raising the salary in the future.

“I just want to say emphatically that our group recommended $45,000 to $65,000, we voted on it…I don’t understand why [Chairwoman Michelle Russo] and Alderman Russo would change the rates based on his conversation with her,” said Golf Commission member Pam Ritter, “And nobody talked to anybody…why is this happening? I’m just saying this because I know [Golf Commission member Bob Karutis] will be really upset and so will [Golf Commission member Dustin Swanger]…It’s not right.”

“In light of the fact that the commission did support the $45,000 to $65,000, I think we need to leave it there…I don’t want to lose good people on the golf commission and start another big fight with everybody. We’ve got a good team working on the golf commission and they’ve come up with this. And if they voted for it then we need to support it,” said Hatzenbuhler.

Russo then requested his amendment be changed to specify a $60,000 upper range for the salary. “I’m not moving any more than that,” he said.

The amendment, and resolution as amended, was approved unanimously by the council.

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.