Have you seen the City of Great Falls’ new website? It’s very well done, and is for the most part a user-friendly hub of relevant information. In addition to the City directory and meeting minutes, there is also the City Manager’s Weekly Packet. While not strictly released on a weekly basis, the latest installment contains some awfully interesting items, most of which were from the City Commission’s retreat/strategic planning mission:
Remember the idea of a City-wide Parks Maintenance District we wrote about not too long ago? The City Commission likes it:
After discussion about implementation of the Park Master Plan, it was the consensus of the Commission to pursue a Park Maintenance District, but agreed that the fees imposed should be reasonable and not include golf or the Natatorium. Manager Doyon suggested that a more robust maintenance fee may result in more money in the general fund to support public safety and ultimately less cost to the public versus a public safety levy. The Commission concurred. [emphasis added]
The real question here is, What does the Commission consider to be a “reasonable” fee amount?
On another item, costs to repair the Civic Center are estimated in the $6 – 8 million dollar range. With the golf fund $1 million in debt to the general fund (and continuing to operate in the red), one option the City is mulling to offset these losses is closing Anaconda Hills Golf Course:
Manager Doyon reported that Director Raymond is putting together an RFP for the Civic Center facade project. Staff estimates the project will be $6 – 8 million dollars. Funding the project will be a challenge with the golf fund deficit. The golf course owes the general fund $1 million dollars. With the operating losses, the likelihood is low that the golf course will be able to pay back the general fund. The Commission was receptive to entertaining the idea of writing off the debt and closing the Anaconda Hills golf course. The P&R Master Plan has shown that the City of Great Falls doesn’t need two golf courses. [emphasis added] Golf funds could be used towards other needs instead of paying back the debt. The Commission requested cost figures of closing the golf course, and any land requirements when the property was deeded to the City. Manager Doyon discussed projected revenue increases and options to partially fund the facade project with debt and cash.
While a tax assessment for parks and the closure of a public golf course do not appear to be imminent (as far as we can tell), they are ideas generally supported, and being entertained, respectively, by the City Commission.