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Standing alone: Hamrick says golf course deal gives perks to country club members
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Gainesville City Councilman Robert "Bob" Hamrick said he thinks a recently approved fee agreement between the city’s municipal golf course and the Chattahoochee Country Club is unfair to the average person.

He may be the only one.

Other council members say the agreement approved last week offers no special privileges to country club members and will bring an extra $15,000 in annual income to the city.

To Hamrick’s dismay, three council members voted to approve the agreement between the Chattahoochee Golf Course and the country club. The agreement was not on the meeting agenda, and council members had previously reached a consensus to delay the decision until after the council’s planning retreat.

The agreement, presented in two work sessions, 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 additional round.

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

Councilman Danny Dunagan put the updated agreement up for a vote Feb. 3. Two other council members supported Dunagan’s bid. Hamrick, who previously had questioned the benefits of the agreement, opposed.

Mayor Myrtle Figueras was not present.

Contacted Monday, Figueras said she had no qualms about the council voting on the contract in her absence. The mayor, who was out of town when the meeting occurred, said she learned of the vote at the council’s planning retreat Thursday.

Her presence likely would have only raised another hand in favor of the contract.

"In my heart, I just thought it was an OK contract," Figueras said.

Hamrick twice asked the council to defer the vote until the council’s retreat, and said the agreement seemed to give the country club, roughly one-third of the golf course’s customers, a financial break not afforded to other golfers.

"I just felt like if you were going to give some breaks, maybe the (other) two-thirds (of golfers) needed some breaks, too," Hamrick said. "That would encourage more play."

Dunagan, a country club member, said the delay was costing the city money — $1,500 in extra revenue for each month without approval.

The new agreement charges the country club $15,000 more annually than the old contract for minimum play, but charges $15 less per round for additional rounds.

Gainesville’s chief financial officer has said the new contract is essentially the same as the old financially.

"I mean $15,000 is $15,000 and at this point in time, they need all the money they can get," Dunagan said. "The only one that was questioning the agreement and had a problem with it was Mr. Hamrick."

Dunagan said "average golfers" can purchase annual passes for $2,800 and reap the same benefits as members of the country club. Other groups also can have corporate agreements at a 5,000-round minimum.

Still, Hamrick said 36 golfers purchased an annual pass last year when the cost was $2,500.

"The average person doesn’t have the $2,500," Hamrick said.

After last week’s vote, Hamrick sent an e-mail to city officials and The Times stating his disappointment at the council’s decision to approve the agreement although it was not on the agenda. In the e-mail, Hamrick said the vote was contrary to a council policy of not voting on issues unless they were listed on the published agenda.

"The published agenda is notification to the public that items will be presented, considered and voted on by the council," Hamrick wrote. "This is a citizens opportunity to appear and speak on the issue. This opportunity was not granted tonight. "Yet Figueras said the council has no such policy to her knowledge.

"We can bring up anything that we want to bring up and ask for council consideration on anything," the mayor said.

Hamrick said the other council members have yet to reply to his e-mail, but he is not surprised.

"I didn’t expect any, really," he said. "Well, I mean, they had already done (it), you know?"