A $1 user fee per golfer per day, effective Jan. 1, 2005, was approved at the last Forest Park Golf Board meeting. The controversial issue passed on a 3-2 vote and was supported by Board President Doug Short, Garry Wolfe and Blanch Law. Dr. Hal Glidden and Don Young opposed.
The user fee applies to all golfers who have a season pass. Current fees, which run from Jan. 1, to Dec. 31, are: Single Adult, $295, Seniors, age 62 and up, $250, Junior, high school age and under, $130, Family, covering heads of household and any immediate family member living in the house under the age of 21, $525. These prices do not include trail fees or storage fees.
"The purpose of the user fee is to increase revenue." Short said. "The cost of maintaining the course goes up every year. All of our other fees, such as the cart storage fees and trail and season passes, were not increased this year so we had to find some way to increase revenue.
Short said the user fee puts the increase on the people who use the course the most. He stated that there was a vocal minority opposed to the fee at the meeting when the resolution was passed. However, he felt the majority of golfers don't have a problem with it.
While Young agreed that some type of increase is necessary, he thought it should be done in a way that was fair to everyone. He favored an across the board increase on season passes.
Local golfer and season pass holder, Steve Messmer, feels the user fee impacts senior golfers more than others.
"Retired people have more opportunity to play so will pay more because of that opportunity," Messmer said. "But they also are on a fixed income. In effect, the user fee is putting a greater tax on retirees or any player on a fixed income.
"It could be considered as a regressive tax. That's basically a higher tax rate on a lower income. It levees a higher assessment against those who can least afford it."
Forest Park's season pass rates appear to be a good buy. A comparison of area courses show that season passes at Forest Park are significantly less than most of the other nearby courses. Rae Park in Terre Haute is more than $100 higher plus it has a $2 user fee. Idle Creek has no user fee but is more than double the premium at Forest Park. Clover Meadows at Cloverdale is more than $200 more for a single adult pass.
The one exception is Oak Ridge Golf Course on Long Road, southeast of Brazil. That 18-hole course charges the same as Forest Park for a single adult and $25 less for a senior pass. They have no user fee.
The next Golf Board meeting is 7 p.m., Monday, in the City Council Chamber room at City Hall. The public is welcome to attend.
Story written by Linda Messmer