The city of Meridian may sell or lease the Lakeview Municipal Golf Course, if it cannot sustain itself through future golf sales, contributions, and clubhouse revenues, Mayor Percy Bland said Tuesday.
Chief Administrative Officer Richie McAlister said that under the sixth draft of the fiscal year 2020 budget, the city would move $100,000 from the general fund to cover the gap between revenue and expenses for the golf course.
Leaders made the same transfer last year, according to Chief Financial Officer Brandye Latimer.
If Lakeview does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, or if no one takes over the facility by Sept. 30, 2020, the city would likely close it, McAlister said.
City records show revenue from the golf course dropped from approximately $295,000 in fiscal year 2012 to around $98,000 by July of fiscal year 2019.
“The users of each facility are going to have to get more active in saving that facility,” said council member Fannie Johnson, who represents Ward 3. “The golfers want Lakeview saved, the golfers are going to have to get more active.”
Leaders have been working to cover what Latimer said was a more than $980,000 revenue gap in the upcoming budget, with weeks left to finalize it.
Under the current draft, approximately $129,000, not including other benefits, is set aside for raises for 91 public works employees, McAlister said.
He said leaders are considering trimming approximately $123,000 through a 1 percent cut to some city departments.
Some city council members remain on the fence about a property tax hike.
They said they are looking at a possible increase of 2 mills, instead of 2.46 mills, as previously discussed.
“In order for me to be comfortable raising taxes, I need to be comfortable that we made every cut that we could cut, that we sold anything that we could sell, and that we saved all the money we can save,” Fannie Johnson said.
McAlister said the added revenue would help with services like grass cutting and road maintenance.
“It helps us provide the services to a higher level than we have been able to this past year,” he said.
Ward 4 council member Kim Houston said the council is trying to do its due diligence as budget discussions continue.
“If there’s a way to avoid a tax increase, we want to make sure that we’re looking at every option,” she said. “At the same time, if we have to have a tax increase, to make sure that we’re providing services to our citizens.”
The city has not raised taxes since 2008, according to Bland.
“We have cut the budget, two years now, down to the bone,” he said. “We can’t continue to operate with the service we’re doing without having more revenue from somewhere.”