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Rochester golf proposal will maintain four courses with increased fees and tax revenue

Rochester Park Board is slated to review staff proposal Tuesday, along with survey results related to options for municipal golf.

Rochester City Golf Courses
Golfers chip to the green on hole 3 on Friday, Oct. 21, 2022, at Northern Hills Golf Course in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — A proposal to maintain four city-owned golf courses while increasing fees and annual tax requests will be reviewed Tuesday.

The Rochester Park Board is set to receive a staff recommendation regarding the future of municipal golf after a monthslong study that included a pair of surveys, which will be included in Tuesday’s discussion.

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The board will meet at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Development Services and Infrastructure Center, 4001 West River Parkway NW.

The parks staff and park board were tasked in earlier this year by the Rochester City Council to review the city’s golf operations with a focus on three potential options:

  • Maintaining the current courses with a strategy that would generate added annual funding to address specific improvements and operations. 
  • Maintaining the current courses without increased funding, which could include reduced services. 
  • Finding a way to reposition a course that would optimize the city’s golf program. 

Parks and Recreation staff landed on a proposal to use changes to golf fees and annual tax levy funds to generate $500,000 a year for the program, which would provide $100,000 to operations and $400,000 for course improvements.
The proposal calls for season passes to increase by 20% next year, followed by additional annual increases through 2027. It would increase the cost for a standard adult season pass from $795 this year to $1,292 in 2027.

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Players seeking to pay per round played would also see increases, with the daily rate increasing 10% in 2023, 6% in 2024 and 3% during the following three years. It means the adult daily rate for an 18-hole round would increase from $32 to nearly $41.

Through a series of public comment periods and open houses at the city’s four courses, Parks and Recreation Director Paul Widman said golfers repeatedly said they were willing to pay more.

“We thank the community, especially the golfers, for the time and energy they have provided during this process,” he said in a statement announcing the proposal. “The recommendation being proposed for the Park Board’s consideration is one that we believe is inclusive of the community feedback we received and ensures there is a sustainable way to support all four municipal courses.”

The proposed plan calls for $250,000 in property tax revenue to be dedicated to golf each year.

By comparison, the city committed $158,000 in tax revenue to golf this year, with nearly $205,000 in tax funds requested for 2023.

The Park Board will review the proposal and determine whether it wants to forward the recommended plan to the City Council. The council is slated to review any proposal, along with survey results, during a study session on Nov. 28.



Upcoming meetings

Meetings scheduled to be held during the week of Oct. 31 include:

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Rochester

  • Airport Commission, 2 p.m. Tuesday in the administration conference room of City Hall, 201 Fourth St. SE.
  • Park Board, 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Development Services and Infrastructure Center, 4001 West River Parkway NW
  • City Council, 7 p.m. Wednesday In council chambers of the city-county Government Center, 151 Fourth St. SE. The meeting will livestream at www.rochestermn.gov/meetings/council-meetings and be available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188 and Metronet channel 80.

Olmsted County

  • Physical Development Committee, 8 a.m. Tuesday in conference room 4 of the Government Center.
  • Administrative Committee, 8 a.m. Tuesday in board chambers of the city-county Government Center, 151 Fourth St. SE.
  • Board of County Commissioners, 9 a.m. Tuesday in the board chambers of the Government Center.
  • Health, Housing and Human Services Committee, 10 a.m. Wednesday in conference room 2 for the city-county Government Center.
  • Planning Advisory Commission, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, board chambers of the Government Center.

Rochester Public Schools

  • School Board, 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the boardroom of the Edison Building, 615 Seventh St. SW.
Randy Petersen joined the Post Bulletin in 2014 and became the local government reporter in 2017. An Elkton native, he's worked for a variety of Midwest papers as reporter, photographer and editor since graduating from Winona State University in 1996. Readers can reach Randy at 507-285-7709 or rpetersen@postbulletin.com.
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