L AFAYETTE — City-parish government is considering raising fees at Lafayette’s three public golf courses, a move that Parks and Recreation Director Gerald Boudreaux said is needed to help cover rising expenses for operations and upkeep.
The City-Parish Council is scheduled to vote Jan. 7 on the fee hikes, which would be phased in over two years at the Jay and Lionel Hebert Municipal Golf Course on Mudd Avenue, Les Vieux Chenes Municipal Golf Course in Youngsville and The Wetlands off University Avenue.
The most recent fee increases were in 2011.
“We don’t like to have an increase every year, but we need to keep up with the operational costs,” Boudreaux said.
Under the fee proposal, regular daily greens fees would not rise until 2015, but a two-stage increase in annual passes would begin next year.
At Vieux Chenes and Hebert, daily greens fees would rise from $20 to $24 in 2015, and a regular annual pass would go from $650 to $725 next year and to $800 in 2015.
At The Wetlands, the city’s newest course, weekday greens fees would rise from $33 to $37 in 2015 and weekend fees would rise from $38 to $42.
An annual pass at the Wetlands would go from $1,320 to $1,395 next year and to $1,470 in 2015.
The fee increases would bring in an estimated $565,000 in annual revenue once fully implemented in 2015, according to figures from city-parish government.
“We feel these are moderate increases,” Boudreaux said.
Even with the increases, he said, the three municipal golf courses would not be self-sustaining.
“We are still behind the eight ball in a lot of areas,” he said.
Estimated expenses for operations and capital projects at the three golf courses are at $4 million for the fiscal year that began Nov. 1.
Without the proposed increase, golf fees would bring in about $3 million in revenue, and with the increase, that figure would be just over $3.5 million, still about half a million dollars short, according to figures from Boudreaux.
The Parks and Recreation Department receives money from a 1.92-mill property tax, but expenses associated with recreation centers, golf courses and other programs are nearly double the revenue the tax generates.
Lafayette’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission last year recommended an increase in the property tax, which has not been raised since voters first approved it in 1961, but the City-Parish Council chose not to put the issue on the ballot.
The proposed increase in golf fees comes as the use of Lafayette’s public courses is possibly at the highest it’s ever been, Boudreaux said.
He said there were 40,000 rounds played last fiscal year at Vieux Chenes, 33,500 at the Wetlands and 22,500 at Hebert.
Boudreaux attributed the intense use of the public courses to a year free of hurricanes, which can shut down play for at least a week, and improvements in recent years at all three courses, including more than $2.5 million worth of work at Hebert and Vieux Chenes to modernize the city’s two older courses.
“The condition of the course has attracted more golfers,” Boudreaux said.