In 1997, voters approved a ballot item for a bond to be passed that would be used for the construction of the golf course.
In 2002, voters approved the venue tax, which would use funds to help pay off the bond debt, according to City Manager Kim Turner.
“So, the venue tax was approved in 2002 to pay off the debt from Olympia Hills Golf Course,” she said. “But the law also provides that the venue tax can be used for maintenance and operation and renovation and other items on the golf course, even after the debt is paid off.”
The 1997 bond debt is set to be paid off in the fiscal year 2023 budget, which leaves the City Council to give direction regarding the allocation of funds, whether to remove the tax altogether or come up with an alternative option.
On Feb 7, council discussed needs for the golf course, including maintenance and a possible expansion of the facility and parking area.
During the March 7 meeting, council resumed the discussion with council members giving feedback on the venue tax and moving forward.
Multiple residents including Ken Mitts spoke on the item, suggesting the council consider other options rather than using the tax to support the golf course.
“I think it is just time for citizens to be given the opportunity to vote again,” Mitts said.
Council Member Steven Buck said while the council has an obligation to residents and the golf course, the needs of the residents have more importance.
“Our obligations to the residents of Universal City outweighs our obligation to the golf course,” Buck said. “We represent the residents, and we have to make the decisions that we feel are in the best interest of residents in Universal City.”
No action was made on the item, but the city is working to set up a workshop for the City Council to discuss the next steps and brainstorm options for the venue tax. This meeting will be open to the public.
All council members were in agreement with taking the time to consider the best option for the city and come up with a solution that can be voted on by residents in November.
Council Member William Shelby said the decision is one that needs careful consideration as it will affect all residents of Universal City.
“This is not a light switch,” he said. “This is not a hard right turn. This is a big deal, as with most things in the city.”
Over the course of workshops and meetings, council will come up with a proposal that they feel best fits the need, and vote to have that item go to voters, should it warrant a resident vote.
The deadline to order an election is Aug. 21, giving the council around five months to come up with a solution.