Letter to the Editor
A path forward requires knowing where one wants to go and a measure to know far along the path one has traveled. If the City leadership has one for the golf course, they have not made it clear to the citizens of Mountain Home. If they don’t have one, then perhaps the citizens would be better served by leadership that can.
It is difficult to understand what the Mayor and City Council are doing, and more importantly not doing, about the golf course and its management. Just like the parks and public library, the value of the golf course cannot be measured solely on a budgetary bottom line.
The city experienced substantial increases in use and subsequent revenues with the current manager. Public input attributes this increase directly to the efforts of this manager and are willing to “pay a little more” to see him retained. In July, the city gave notice of termination, effective at the end of September, for the manager’s contract stating they would not renew or extend the contract under the existing terms.
In August, the Mayor spent over twenty-five thousand dollars for a third party to comprehensively evaluate the course overall seeking ways to move toward self-sustainability. At the report presentation, the presenter asked, “What is your vision for the golf course?” Silence was the response.
That lack of a clear vision continues to play out before our eyes. Leadership gave notice of contract termination, then reversed and entered a three-month extension. Despite multiple meetings with the manager during this extension, there is yet to be a new contract.
The presenter noted that fees at the course represented an “extraordinary value” to the golfers. The City has exclusive authority to set prices. The mayor repeatedly asked the presenter what the city should charge for season passes. The presenter, consistently noting that increases should be evaluated in light of consumer tolerance, eventually suggested an amount around $850. On October 11th, the city posted notice of a public hearing to be held on October 24th, raising fees to $852. This is only one example of the increases proposed. It appears the leadership has “cherry picked” the report and not considered, or completely disregarded, the citizen input of their willingness to pay “a little more” and the presenters caution to consider consumer tolerance. The document states the increases are to take effect on October 25th. The leadership has never shown the ability to contemplate and incorporate public input so quickly.
The US Congress Joint Economics Committee reports the inflation rate in September for Idaho is 20.5%. The proposed increase in the example above is 54% before inflation. Rather taking an incremental approach to fee increases to reach a more balanced value, this short-sighted and heavy-handed approach risks reducing participation to a rate that cannot be recouped through the increases.
What path is the leadership really on if they have no articulated vision toward where they want to go?