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Gainesville golfers may foot bill for new carts
City council to vote on loan request for city's golf course
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Gainesville City Council meeting

When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Georgia Mountains Center, 301 Main St., room A

Golfers at Gainesville’s Chattahoochee Golf Course may soon be riding in newer golf carts soon, but they’ll have to pay for it.

Director of Golf Rodger Hogan is asking the City Council Tuesday for a loan to purchase 65 new golf carts for the course.

The old fleet of carts lasted past the warranty dates and are now 4 years old. To repay the loan, Hogan wants to raise the 18-hole cart fee by $1 and the nine-hole cart fee by 50 cents on Sept. 18.

“They’re not in the best of shape and need to be replaced. They can’t perform to the standards of the golf industry,” Hogan said. “Three or four each day don’t make it the entire 18 holes, and they’re out of warranty so we have to make the repairs. We’re concerned about keeping them because of the money we have to put into them.”

New batteries and tires could cost more than $800 per cart. Hogan recharges them on the green on a regular basis.

The $161,905 interfund loan, transferred from the city’s Community Development Fund, would purchase 65 new Yamaha carts to last for the next three or four years. The proposal sparked a lot of talk among council members.

“If the life expectancy is three years and you’re going to borrow $161,000, how long will it take you to play that many rounds?” council member Bob Hamrick said. “At 25,000 a year now, in three years $75,000 will not pay the loan. I feel you need to raise the fee enough, maybe by $3, to pay the loan in three years before you buy another fleet.”

Other council members noted that a higher fee would push golfers to another course, and the Gainesville course would lose business. They also discussed raising the fees by $2 when the economy starts to recover.

“I would go for that myself,” council member George Wangemann said. “The user should pay the cost is what I’m saying. Maybe we could keep half and replace half ... I don’t want to create a safety hazard, but I want a more concrete solution.”

The main problems for each cart are dying batteries, which cost $600 each, Hogan said. He doesn’t mind adjusting the fee and moving it up another dollar next year.

“We’ll come back to it, and I think $1 is still competitive,” City Manager Kip Padgett said. “It’s the risk you’re taking. It’s a risk to do it because based on today, you’re not going to pay it back in three years, but if you run them off, you’re not going to make it either.”

Council members agreed to put the proposal on Tuesday’s consent agenda.

“My only concern is the borrow, borrow, borrow, but I have no problem here,” council member Myrtle Figueras said. “Once the golf course gets back on its feet, it can repay the loan.”

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