Golf or Firefighters?
We have repeatedly used this space to bring attention to the fact that the City of Lexington owns and operates too many golf courses at a great cost to the Lexington taxpayer.
Lexington's budget reports [show] a decline from 152,000 rounds in FY 2006 to only 107,565 in FY 2010. The 45,000 round decline is 50% higher than the total number of rounds played on Lexington's most popular golf course in 2009 (30,161 played at Lakeside). Lexington has lost 50% more than an entire golf course worth of rounds played.
Yet, Lexington continues to keep operating without change, devoting tax dollars to maintaining a singular type of recreation for fewer and fewer people.
The Lexington Herald-Leader's editorial board supports this policy of 'no change in subsidizing Lexington's golfers no matter what it costs'. When Councilman Doug Martin recently proposed reducing Lexington's golf surplus, the board falsely editorialized that:
Whatever the aim, the effort remains what it always was: a cynical and heavy-handed attempt by a handful of developers who overreached during the '90s golf boom, to use the pinched city budget to redirect play from the city courses onto their own.
It's not cynical. There is an obvious opportunity cost to the city, which repeatedly chooses to lose $1 million operating golf courses over other public priorities.
One choice the city has regularly made in recent years is to "brownout" local fire stations in order to afford this massive subsidy of golf.
According to a LEX18 report this morning, such brownouts can be life-threatening:
When Lexington's mayor and city council choose to spend one million dollars to subsidize golf, they are making a simultaneous choice not to spend that one million dollars to keep this fire station open. It is a ridiculous statement of priorities.
Maybe this poor individual should have pulled into the nearest city golf course. Unlike fire stations, Lexington golf courses are open year-round, rain, snow, hail or shine.