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October 24, 2013

Fees to increase at Sylvan Heights

NEW CASTLE — Some fees will increase at Sylvan Heights Golf Course next year under changes presented to New Castle City Council.

The increases are proposed by the city’s golf course committee to avoid a budget shortfall in 2014. The committee is made up of city officials and a golf course member.

A memo from city finance officer Josh Latore to council says that if the fees are not changed, the budget for the city-owned course will have a shortfall of approximately $25,000 next year.

Council is expected to introduce an amendment to an ordinance establishing the new fees tonight.

Included in the changes are an increase in membership rates by $50, except for students and super seniors.

Student memberships would remain at $200 while super seniors would see their rates increase from $100 to $200.

The super senior category includes people 80 and older with 15 consecutive years in good standing. The designation covers anyone who turned 80 through Jan. 1, 2013. Although the designation has been eliminated, the super senior rate will continue for those who already have  qualified.

Proposed rates for other categories are:

•Adult (city resident or city property owner) — $610

•Adult (non-resident) — $690

•Family (city resident or property owner) — $740

•Family (non-resident) — $820

•Senior citizen (city resident or property owner) — $510

•Senior citizen (non-resident) — $590.

Greens fees and cart fees would be increased by 50 cents, except for weekend/holiday rates.

Event fees would be increased to $22 per golfer, up from $20.

Under the proposal, memberships would be called seasonal passes. The memo states that no one will be considered a member, and that “individuals will be purchasing golf passes instead.”

At council’s work session Tuesday, Councilman William Panella questioned the reasoning for the change.

Councilman Ed Yerage, a member of the golf committee, said the term membership suggests ownership. Panella said he disagrees.

Business administrator Stephanie Dean, a committee member, suggested the change not be made if the entire ordinance is at risk of being voted down.

“It’s not going to be voted down,” Councilman Richard Beshero responded. “I just think it’s senseless.”

Yerage said the increases are being proposed “so that we can break even.” As long as the city can break even, the city can continue to operate the course, he said.

An option discussed previously is to outsource management of the golf course if it runs at a deficit.

(Email: jmanna@ncnewsonline.com)

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