Thoughts and ideas from Straight News Online's contributors and community on the big questions behind the headlines.

BIG ANSWERS: Should Lafayette subsidize golf?

Golf carts
Golf carts lined up at Lafayette's public golf course on the Northside Photo by Travis Gauthier

Last week, we put out our first Big Question — a new monthly series calling for community input on local issues.

We asked readers whether Lafayette should subsidize three city-owned golf courses with $2.4 million. The City Council is set to vote on a $1 million proposal to buy new golf carts. Folks chimed in with some thoughtful responses. Most (67%) of the 60+ responses said no. Here’s some of what y’all had to say, edited for brevity and clarity:

People who support subsidizing golf say it’s necessary to provide an affordable option to private courses.

“Because the cost of golf has been rising significantly over the last decade. It’s becoming too expensive to play.”

Alex Riggs

“It is an essential exercise. Not everyone can afford to join private clubs. Citizens are paying taxes to have city golf courses and parks.”

Nedra Kerin

Even so, some supporters question whether it should be a priority.

“It is a social sport that all ages can play, and provides a quality of life benefit to our citizens. However, I agree that we may not need the number we have, and that spending a large amount of carts (which are NOT a necessary part of the sport) at a time that LIBRARIES are on the chopping block is foolish.”

Clair Coussan

Most opponents say it’s not a priority.

“This government can’t keep the trash cans emptied and restrooms clean at our parks! Funny how this administration threatened closing parks just a few years ago and now the money will go to subsidize recreation that only a handful of residents use. I thought conservative politicians didn’t approve of subsidies. They do, only when it benefits their friends and business acquaintances.”

Lisa LeBlanc

“The golf facilities are used by a small number of citizens. Taxpayer dollars would be better spent on services that affect greater numbers of citizens. Increasing user fees should definitely be considered.”

Ellen Deaton

“$8 million in five years? I, like many, did not know this figure. It seems an awful lot to spend on a sport that could increase fees for the few that use it. Our money is needed to build at least one crosswalk/bridge for the residents on the Evangeline Thruway. I’m sickened by continuously hearing of people unnecessarily dying crossing that highway.”

Leigh Page

Some don’t think that the government should be subsidizing golf at all.

“All three courses should be sold to private corporations. City and parish government have no business in golf. If you golf you should do so with your own money, not taxpayers money.”

Brian Zeringue

“Golf isn’t a necessary or beneficial enough public utility for my tax dollars.”

Van McNeil

One commenter had an idea to lower the amount of money needed for new golf carts.

“I wondered why they are considering purchasing carts when they can consider leasing them. I worked at Paragon Casino Resort where the golf pro would lease the golf carts and change out the fleet every few years. That was significantly less expensive than an outright purchase.”

Mary Baudoin

The question of whether the city should spend a million dollars buying new golf carts raised a bigger issue of how spending proposals are evaluated.

“Local government funding for parks and recreation enhances our city and parish. I don't want to see activities like golf or team sports becoming only available to wealthy families because of high user fees. However, that does not mean that I support unexamined spending. Far too often our City and Parish Council members have simply accepted expenditures, even very large expenditures of our tax dollars, with little requirement for the administration to give detailed justification of the cost, benefit, and priority of their proposals.”

Mike Waldron

Got something else to say about this or other issues? Drop us a line at [email protected]