The common council will have the final say on golf course rates, and commission members will serve coterminous with the mayor under an ordinance approved unanimously by the common council on Tuesday. However, the council did not move forward on approving the rates for the upcoming season.
At a committee of the whole meeting held before the regular meeting, Alderman Ed Russo, the golf course liaison, said he wanted to add a resolution to the agenda which would set the new rates. Commission member Michelle Russo passed out a schedule listing the current rates, and four different options for rate increases, ranging from 8% to 15%. However given that three members of the commission had recently resigned, other city officials said the new members, two of which were appointed last week, needed time to make a recommendation.
“We have a new commission that we just appointed,” said Alderman Jim Martuscello. “But you don’t care what they have to say, you want to go by the figures from the old people?”
Russo asked how long the council wanted to wait in order to approve the prices. At a previous meeting, Russo and former commission members stressed the need to advertise the new rates in order to stay competitive with other courses in the area.
“Everyone else has their fees already done,” said Alderman Russo.
“So what, are they golfing yet?” retorted Martuscello. He added that he didn’t see a need to rush to get the rates approved.
“If our [rates] are cheaper, and that’s the big complaint that I’ve heard, that we’re cheaper than anyone else…then let them go, let them go pay more,” said Martuscello.
“I think we need to let the new commission take a look,” said Villa. Later he said, “This is a budget prepared by three members that resigned…I can’t entertain it.”
Alderman Chad Majewski said, “The previous commission did a great job putting the budget together. It’s outlined for the new commission. I think that we should wait and let the new commission take a look at the budget and go from there. But we need to do it quickly. We need to see if we can get them done next week and get something on the agenda so we can vote on it in two weeks.”
Alderman Paul Ochal asked how early the course might open this year.
“I’d have to talk with [Course Superintendent Darren Graf], but if the weather stays at the rate we’re going, we could probably be open in another two weeks or so,” said commission member Russo.
“I think we have to give the new golf commission members a chance to look at this budget and see what has to happen,” said Alderman Rodney Wojnar.
Before the regular meeting, Alderman Russo also suggested the section of the new ordinance that called for commission members to serve coterminous with the mayor be removed.
“I think it works good the way it is,” said Alderman Russo.
City Clerk Susan Alibozek said that a major change to the ordinance would require another public hearing to be scheduled.
“I think we’re over-thinking it,” said Villa. “You’re going to have a new [United States] president on January 21. He’s going to appoint a whole new cabinet that runs the entire country. We can’t appoint a golf commission? C’mon.”
At the regular meeting, there was no motion to add a resolution setting the rates to the agenda. The new ordinance was approved unanimously.
After the meeting, Alderman Russo praised the work the commission had done so far.
“To wait for the new commission to come in…we’re wasting time,” said Russo. “We have to save every dollar we can, we have to make every dollar we can.”
According to commission member Russo, the proposed schedule reflects the elimination of rider fees and league fees, the cost of which would be nearly offset by an overall 8% increase in other rates. The schedule also shows the city could potentially realize an additional $30,664 in annual revenue by raising overall rates by 15%.