Lexington is considering lowering greens fees for active-duty military and veterans at the city’s five publicly owned golf courses.
A committee of the Urban County Council voted 7-3 Tuesday to move the proposal to the full council. A final vote is expected in coming weeks.
If approved by the full council, the new rates would take effect in the spring.
Military and veterans already receive discounts at public golf courses that vary depending on the course. For example, weekday rates at Gay Brewer are $19 without a discount. Military and veterans pay $15. Under the proposed new rates, veterans and military personnel would pay $9 for weekend and weekday play.
Monica Conrad, the city’s director of parks and recreation, said the new veterans and military-duty discount rate would be the lowest at the city’s golf courses.
“We are also proposing that greens fees would be waived on Veterans Day,” she said.
Golf car rental fees would not change.
The move to further slash greens fees for veterans was driven in part by a group of veterans who met with Councilman Richard Moloney. Moloney said during Tuesday’s General Government and Social Services Committee meeting that those veterans also are also pursuing discounts from other government services such as Lextran.
Several council members expressed reservations about additional discounts for veterans because the golf courses do not generate enough income to cover expenses. University of Kentucky and Transylvania University students, city employees, junior or youth golfers, seniors and the disabled also get discounts at city golf courses.
Conrad said the golf courses run at a deficit, but she could not say how much money they each year.
“We have seen an increase in 2015 over 2014,” Conrad said of golf course use.
The five golf courses are Kearney Hill Links, Lakeside, Tates Creek, Meadowbrook and Gay Brewer.
Given that the city’s golf courses lose money, steeper discounts might not be wise, some on council said.
“We go up to 66 percent discount with some of these numbers,” said Councilwoman Jennifer Scutchfield.
Councilwoman Shevawn Akers said she was not aware that city employees could get a discount at the golf courses. She questioned if the city should do more to publicize its current military and veteran discount rate, which was set in 2012. Those discounts are a little more than 20 percent depending on the golf course.
“I think we really need a holistic view of golf courses and revenues verses expenses,” Akers said. “We don’t want to approve this and then next year say we are losing too much money and have to raise it.”
Councilwoman Angela Evans said she, too, had concerns that the steep discounts would affect the golf courses’ overall operating expenses.
“I would like to see some more numbers,” Evans said.
But Conrad said the city would be able to track the new discounted rate and how much it is used. Conrad said the discounted rate could increase revenue by bringing more golfers to Lexington courses.
Moloney said he supported the proposed discount.
He said many veterans fought in “wars that were not very popular, and (they) were not treated well when they came home,” Moloney said. “To me, this is a small amount. If it was up to me, I would give it to them for free.”
Scutchfield, Akers, Evans voted against the proposal. Moloney, James Brown, Fred Brown, Jake Gibbs, Peggy Henson, Susan Lamb and Amanda Bledsoe voted in favor.