The Amsterdam Common Council voted 3-1 on Tuesday night to approve the rates proposed by the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course Commission for the 2018 season. The new rates reflect modest increases in the membership rates for all categories except for young adult and junior memberships. Alderman Jim Martuscello cast the no vote, and Alderman Bill Baaki was absent.
At a committee meeting held before the regular meeting, Martuscello said he was in favor of raising rates, but suggested a “two year plan” by which the most common membership categories, standard and senior, would be increased over the course of two years instead of one.
The standard membership rate for 2017 was $735, while the proposed rate for 2018 was $800. The senior membership rate for 2017 was $695, the proposed 2018 rate was $750. Martuscello suggested that those rates be set for 2018 to $770 and $730 respectively, with the full increase taking effect in 2019.
Martuscello said although he thought the commission’s rate increases were “reasonable” he favored a two-year plan to help avoid controversy and complaints that he’s heard from golf course members each year when the subject of rate increases comes up.
“They’ll know exactly what they’re going to pay this year, and what they’re going to pay next year,” said Martuscello. “Every year, it’s almost like repetitious, ‘if you’re going to raise the rates, we’re quitting’…then you get people with rumors, somebody says ‘I hear they’re going to raise the rates $150’ and they’re not.”
Alderman Chad Majewski said, “It’s hard to associate what costs will be two years from now, that’s why we do our city budget on a yearly basis. I know that the golf commission…worked very hard on putting these proposals together.”
“I did some of my own homework and looked at these numbers throughout golf courses in the area, and even with the rate the commission is proposing here, I think we’re still far below everybody else that’s currently out there,” said Majewski. “We’re looking to bring the golf course into the green and we haven’t had any rate increase in three years.”
Mayor Michael Villa said, “The commission has put a lot of work into canvassing area courses and coming up with a rate that makes sense. It’s not over and above, it’s not under, I think it’s a fair rate.”
“That is the commission’s job to make recommendations,” said Villa. “I think we should take the commission’s recommendations on these rates.”
Golf Commission Member Michelle Russo added during the discussion, “From what I believe I’ve seen, between two of our neighboring golf courses, we are still cheaper.”
Russo said that there are currently about 300 total memberships at the course.
“Memberships have been going down throughout the last ten years, but Amsterdam Muni is not alone in that fight, it’s across the country,” said Russo.
Alderman Paul Ochal pointed out that golfers, under a resolution passed by the council earlier in the month, can still sign up for memberships at the 2017 rates before March 3.
Russo said that golfers have been taking advantage of the “early bird” offer.
“It’s my understanding that sales are strong,” said Majewski.
“Because people signed up, effectively they’re going to get a lower rate than they would have gotten even with the amended rates, and then next year they’ll pick up the higher rate,” said Ochal.
After both Ochal and Alderman Rodney Wojnar expressed they would support the commission recommendations, Martuscello said he would withdraw his amendment for the two-year plan.
During the meeting, Villa said that 2018 would be a “transition year” with the new golf pro and new tournaments at the course, and said he would like to seek grant funding to renovate the club house.
“The steps we’re taking are the steps that are going to move us forward to hopefully get this course to be sustainable,” said Villa.