Parks and Recreation Commission holding special meeting Tuesday

Published 7:27 pm Monday, August 28, 2017

Warren County’s Parks and Recreation Commission will be increasing fees and taking other measures to reduce costs, the commission’s chairman told the Board of Supervisors Monday.

Commission chairman Dale McDuff told the supervisors at their work session Monday the commission is holding a special meeting Tuesday night to discuss raising the fees “and do different things.”

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The supervisors on Aug. 21 called for the meeting with the commissioners to discuss finances after approving an additional $45,000 to help the commission pay its August bills.

“We met two weeks ago Tuesday; we decided that everybody think about where we could go, what we could do to change things, and we came up with some ideas, but I don’t know if it’s going to be enough to do what y’all want us to do,” McDuff said.

Kent Smith, the resident professional at Clear Creek Golf Course, told the board the course charges a green fee of $34 for 18 holes, and $39 on weekends. He said the county’s green fees are more than some courses in the surrounding area charge.

The number of people playing golf, he said, is down across the country, because younger golfers “don’t have the time,” to play a lot. He said revenue at the course has dropped from $521,000 in 2012 to $412,000 in 2016.

“That’s with rate increases,” he said. “It’s a pattern. Every time we raise fees, we have a drop in revenue. People are going to go where it’s cheaper. My fear is if we raise fees any more, it’s going to have a reverse effect. We are peaked out in fees.”

Smith said the golf course has tried several programs to increase interest, but they have not been successful.

“If we go up, we lose money,” McDuff said. “If we start losing money, we’re going to have to start closing things or changing the way we’re doing things. That’s what we’re going to discuss Tuesday night. We’re looking at other things.”

When District 3 Supervisor Charles Selmon asked McDuff what the commission could do to become self-sufficient, Smith said the commission could reduce fees and do a better job marketing the commission’s facilities.

“We have two choices; we cannot give you money or we can give you all the money that you need, and I don’t think that would still be enough,” Selmon said. “I think there should be a happy medium. I was hoping if you were not going to raise fees, there would be an option A or an option B.

“Give us something to work on or work with; give some options, rather than saying, ‘Give us more money.’ What would be enough? If we gave you another $100,000 would that be enough?”

McDuff said the commission’s initial fiscal 2017 budget request was $100,000. He said he could give Selmon and the board more information after the Tuesday meeting.

“We come up with a number, we can take the numbers we’ve had over the past five years and we can average them out and we can give you a pretty close total of what it’s going to take to run this business, but you can’t do it on a year-to-year basis. You’ve got to take it on a five-year basis and break down what it’s going to cost month-by-month.”

He said the commission’s plan is to run recreation and parks month-by-month and have all necessary budget items, like utilities on a budget sheet.

“Once we get our budget set, we’re going to have so much money we’re going to be able to spend that month and that’s it. Not a nickel more, not a nickel less. Because we can’t keep coming back to you every month because we’re broke, and it’s not because we’re not trying, it’s because like today; this week’s going to be a wash — no money coming in (because of the weather).”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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