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Gainesville moves ahead with golf contract

POSTED: February 3, 2009 11:25 p.m.

Gainesville City Council moved forward on a corporate golf fee contract between the Chatthoochee Golf Course and the Chattahoochee Country Club even though they had previously agreed to wait on the agreement.

The agreement calls for the Chattahoochee Country Club to pay $23,750 a month for its members to play 9,500 rounds of golf annually and for club members to pay $17 for each round exceeding 9,500 rounds.

The previous agreement charged $32 for each round exceeding 10,000 rounds.

Three council members voted Tuesday in favor of moving ahead with the agreement, despite what seemed to be a consensus to delay voting until after the council retreat later this week.

Councilman Danny Dunagan made the motion to bring the agreement up for a vote during the "council issues" portion of Tuesday’s board meeting. Dunagan said it was important to move ahead with the agreement, because "the old rate is costing us money."

Councilman Robert "Bob" Hamrick, who has been adamant in his desire to come up with a better plan for the golf course, voted against the corporate fee agreement. Mayor Myrtle Figueras was absent from the meeting and did not vote.

Hamrick’s concern was on the favoritism the agreement showed toward the Chattahoochee Country Club, which he said accounted for one-third of the golf players at the municipal golf course.

"It’s giving them special privileges," Hamrick said. "Under this agreement, they can play cheaper than a regular player."

Dunagan said the agreement gave no special privileges to country club members, and regular players could get the same benefits by purchasing an annual pass.

Councilman George Wangemann, whose second of Dunagan’s motion allowed it to return to the table for business Tuesday, said his vote was about revenue.

Dunagan has said that the council is forgoing an additional $1,500 a month in revenues by not approving the agreement.

"My biggest concern of course is that we could be losing some significant revenue," Wangemann said after the vote.

The City Council also voted in favor of a proposed ordinance prohibiting smoking at any park, sports complex or recreation facility owned, leased or operated by the city.

The ordinance also sets hours of operation for city parks, restricting use from 7 a.m. to one hour after sunset each day. The only exception is for lighted city tennis courts, which close at 11 p.m., according to the ordinance. Use of city boat ramps is allowed 24 hours a day.

The ordinance will face a final vote on Feb. 17. If approved a second time, the ordinance would go into effect immediately.

The City Council also approved changes to the hotel and motel tax. Instead of charging hotel guests for the first 10 days of their stay, the City Council voted to extend the 6 percent tax to the first 30 days of a hotel stay. After 30 days, the guests are considered hotel residents and are no longer subject to the tax, according to the ordinance.

Recent changes in state law allowed the city to increase the amount and duration of the hotel and motel tax. Revenue from the tax is supposed to help the city promote local tourism and conventions. In the past, revenues from the tax were used to renovate the Georgia Mountains Center.

In January, the council discussed an idea of raising the tax along with the extension of the taxation period. Council members dropped the idea after hearing from local hoteliers that higher rates would make it hard for them to compete with surrounding cities.


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