Latest Posts





Taxpayer Costs Soar as Play Declines at Rochester City Golf Courses

The Rochester City Council might as well yell “Fore!” right now to warn local taxpayers about the bill coming at them for the escalating cost of subsidizing the city’s four municipal golf courses.

The total golf rounds played annually continues to decline, while at the same time the cost of operating the city’s courses climbs. City leaders at a recent planning meeting got the message that the trend will  likely continue in the upcoming golf season, according to the Post Bulletin.

The number of rounds seen last year — nearly 80,000 — is on par with the 2012 numbers, but the annual taxpayer cost has climbed from $55,500 to $314,000.

The result is nearly $4 of tax investment per round of golf on a public course in 2019, which is up from nearly 70 cents per round in 2012.

“The city has grown dramatically; the number of people playing golf has not,” said Rochester City Council Member Michael Wojcik.

The city has tried reducing staff to cut costs and raising prices to increase revenue. But the operating deficit–and taxpayer subsidy to cover it–has ballooned anyway.

Among other reasons, Parks and Recreation Director Paul Widman said expensive maintenance issues keep cropping up.

“We’re paying for things that should have been repaired years ago,” he said.

Most recently, the city built a new clubhouse at Northern Hills Golf Course, with potential plans to repair the entrance road in the spring.

“The decay of that clubhouse was being consumed by mold for the past 10 years,” Widman said.

Other cities facing the decline in the popularity of golf have opted to bring in private managers to operate their courses or sold off the land to developers. Rochester may not be at that point yet, but the city has finally teed up the issue after five years of increasing deficits at its muni courses.




Upcoming Events

  • Morning in Minnesota Breakfast Series: Winona

    Location: Signatures Restaurant, 22852 County Road 17, Winona, MN 55987

    Please join Center of the American Experiment Friday, March 6 at Signatures for a FREE breakfast with economist John Phelan.

    Register Now
  • Lunch Forum with Amity Shlaes

    Location: Hyatt Regency Minneapolis 1300 Nicollet Mall Minneapolis, MN 55403

    Buy tickets for March 2nd HERE. About This Event: Enjoy our Early Bird Ticket Special through February 23rd! After this date, ticket price will increase to $30. Doors open at 11:30 AM, program and lunch begin at Noon. In Great Society, the New York Times bestselling author of The Forgotten Man and Coolidgeoffers a stunning revision of our last great period of idealism, the 1960s, with burning relevance for our contemporary challenges. Today, a battle rages in our country. Many Americans are attracted to socialism and economic redistribution while opponents of those ideas argue for purer capitalism. In the 1960s, Americans…

    Register Now
  • 2020 Annual Dinner Featuring Sarah Huckabee Sanders

    Location: Minneapolis Convention Center Ballroom 1301 2nd Ave S Minneapolis, MN 55403

    American President: The Unorthodox Approach to Politics that Changed the World. Sarah Huckabee Sanders served as White House Press Secretary for President Donald J. Trump from 2017 to 2019. A trusted confidant of the President, Sanders advised him on everything from press and communications strategy to personnel and policy. For two and a half years, Sanders was at the President’s side, battling with the media, working with lawmakers and CEOs, and staffing the President on every foreign trip, including dozens of meetings with foreign leaders. Sanders is only the third woman and the first mother to hold the job of…

    Register Now