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JAN 20 - JAN 28, 2015

City Golfers Tee-off on New "Progressive Tax" at Hyde Park Golf Course

By Anna M. Howard

January 20, 2015

The rates will go up for Hyde Park Golf Course.


The price hike for season golf passes at Niagara Falls' municipal golf course at Hyde Park for those with disabilities will go from $500 to $600; a season pass for cart rental will climb by $100; the cost to play the historic, but neglected "red nine" course will move from $5 to $9 and a bucket of driving range balls will jump by a buck.

While these cost increases aren’t tax hikes, a Buffalo News on December 23, titled, “Some fees to use Niagara Falls golf course going up next year,” suggest Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster thinks of them as taxation. The article says, "Dyster, who described user fees as the most progressive form of a tax since the people using the service are the ones who will face the increases, said the city wants to keep the course affordable for working-class people and retirees.”

Council Chairman Andrew Touma sponsored the resolution to raise the rates.

The fee increases were approved 3-2 with the pro-Dyster majority of Charles Walker, Kristen Grandinetti and Touma voting yes, while councilmen Glenn Choolokian and Robert Anderson voted against the rate increases.

The fee increases were approved despite the fact that no data was presented as to how much additional revenue could be expected from the price hikes.

Sometimes price increases result in a net loss of revenue since people take their business and money elsewhere, or go without the service.

The golf course runs an annual operating deficit between $250,000 and $400,000.

Last May, Mayor Dyster, adding to the annual deficit, spent $250,000 in casino funds to put a new roof on the clubhouse/restaurant.

In November, the mayor requested $304,000 in casino funds to construct paved golf cart paths. The funding was denied by the council pending additional information.

The mayor is expected to revisit the request before start of the golfing season.

At the time of the golf course path-funding request, Dyster said paved golf cart paths met casino cash expenditure requirements that funds must be spent for economic development because cart paths meant increased cart rentals during wet-ground conditions which would mean added income for the course which is economic development.

As in the hikes in golf fees, Dyster did not provide what cart rental revenue was for past years, or what new cart rental revenue may be realized if new paths were constructed.

City golfers have told the Reporter that sand traps are nearly sand-less and sometimes have weeds.

Routine maintenance of the course appears to be hit and miss. At the close of the 2013 season, the "North 18" holes' greens were seriously ill due to neglect and required emergency fungicide spraying. An outside consultant was hired to do the work.

While the Hyde Park golf course greens were improved, properly maintained tees, fairways, rough, sand traps and trees could still use improvement.

Cutting grass, maintaining greens and trimming trees are a function that benefits golfers, and attracts more business, as much as paved golf cart paths used on an occasional rainy day. However, they may have a lower priority since unlike new roofs and cart paths they do not require outside consultants, contractors and casino expenditures.

General maintenance comes out of golf course revenue and the deficit is paid for by taxpayers.


Councilman Glenn Choolokian voted against the price hikes.






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