Green fees going up at Lafayette municipal courses

Green fees at Lafayette’s three municipal golf courses are going up.

The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday unanimously approved rate hikes of $4 for regular daily green fees and an increase of $150 for annual passes.

City-Parish Parks and Recreation Director Gerald Boudreaux said the new fees will help keep revenue in line with rising costs for upkeep and operations 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.

Even with the increase, he said, the city’s three golf courses will not be self-sustaining.

“Fee increases are never fun. It’s not anything that we take pleasure or pride in bringing to you,” Boudreaux said.

The $150 increase in annual passes will be phased in over two years, with a $75 increase beginning this month and a second $75 increase in 2015.

The $4 increase in daily greens fees will not go into effect in 2015.

Gold cart rental fees will also rise.

Councilman Andy Naquin voiced concerns about the impact on senior citizens who live on a fixed income and might not be able to afford paying $150 more a year for an annual pass.

“This is their social life to come to the golf course,” he said. “If it becomes unaffordable for them to play, it takes away that little pleasure of life.”

City-Parish President Joey Durel countered that it wasn’t fair to assume that most senior citizens couldn’t afford an annual golf pass.

Even if they couldn’t afford to play as much as they wanted, Durel said, city-parish government should do a better job of using user fees to cover city-parish government’s golf course expenses.

“Here is a very legitimate opportunity to run government like a business,” Durel said.

Boudreaux said seniors already receive discounts and most also enjoy a substantial value if they purchase an annual pass which, for an avid golfer, can pay for itself in a few months.

“From a professional standpoint from the director of the department, I don’t think we are asking too much,” Boudreaux said. “The product we are putting out now is one we are very proud of.”

The most recent fee increase at the city’s three golf courses was in 2011.

The golf budget has increased about 15 percent since then, Boudreaux said.

The fee increases come after a record year at Lafayette’s three courses in which 95,000 rounds were played, according to figures provided by Boudreaux.

The new fees only partially close the funding gap for the city’s golf courses, which will still need an annual subsidy of about $500,000 to cover all operating and capital expenses.

The fee increases would generate an estimated $565,000 in annual revenue once fully implemented in 2015, bringing revenue for the three courses to about $3.5 million but still not meeting the roughly $4 million annual budget, according to figures from Boudreaux.

At Vieux Chenes and Hebert, daily greens fees will rise from $20 to $24 in 2015, and a regular annual pass will go from $650 to $725 next year and to $800 in 2015.

At The Wetlands, the city’s newest course, weekday greens fees will rise from $33 to $37 in 2015 and weekend fees will rise from $38 to $42. An annual pass at the Wetlands will go from $1,320 to $1,395 next year and to $1,470 in 2015.