CONNIE SWINNEY • PICAYUNE STAFF
MEADOWLAKES — With an eye toward improving an ailing budget, Hidden Falls Golf Club officials approved monthly payments for “lifetime memberships” established before the city purchased the facility.
The city of Meadowlakes acquired the golf facility in 2008, and, at the time, the council chose to honor so-called “lifetime” contractual agreements made by more than two dozen members that were handled by the previous privately owned company.
The contracts allowed members to make a one-time $10,000 payment in exchange for golfing memberships and other club amenities, officials said.
A recent vote by the current council and Public Facilities Corp., which manages the club and the course, altered those arrangement through an amended ordinance that now requires lifetime members to pay $75 per month plus trail fees and optional cart fees — which started Dec. 1 — for a golfing membership.
Beginning Oct. 1, 2014, the monthly payment is scheduled to increase to $150 per month.
“Kind of like a gym with a new owner, if that contract goes away, then the rules change,” said council member Mary Ann Raesener, who voted for the monthly payments. “You’re not bound by the (contract).”
The council initially made the recommendation in November with a 4-1 vote to amend the ordinance that then authorized PFC to make changes to membership payments and fees.
Mayor Don Williams, a lifetime member, said he opposed the amendment; however, he only voted to break a tie.
“It’s not something I was for. I was hoping we could work this out differently. I was trying to honor a contract,” he said. “I’m a lifetime member. It’s like making an investment. … I fought to keep it from happening. I didn’t have a vote.”
PFC officials still consider the arrangement a lifetime membership because the setup is different than the usual monthly membership payments, Williams said.
A single member pays $150 plus trail and/or cart fees. A couple pays about $165 per month plus trail and/or cart fees. Other membership contracts include considerations for Winter Texan rates. Trail and cart fees can cost upwards of $85 per month on top of the regular membership payments.
“When the city took it over, it’s a new entity,” Raesener said. “The contract was not guaranteed to continue the way it was with the acquisition.”
Williams said there’s no guarantee that even the current action will remain in place.
“Any future council can always amend the ordinance again,” he said.
PFC sent notices of the changes to lifetime members in November.
“Many of them are upset about it,” Williams said.” They saw it as an investment and it should be honored in good faith, but the council didn’t see it that way, so it passed. We move on.”