Municipal golf continues to cost taxpayers

Edina is having its worst year yet at the city’s two government-owned golf courses, transferring hundreds of thousands of dollars from their general fund to cover losses in their golf fund. When a city begins cross-subsidizing a failing enterprise fund, it should serve as a reminder that the city should not be in the enterprise at all.

St. Paul voted last week to seek bids from private firms to manage two of the city’s four golf courses. However, pseudo-privatizing half of the city’s golf courses is unlikely to make much of a difference considering the disastrous state of the courses’ finances. According to the Pioneer Press: "The city's four golf courses have been losing about $1 million annually, and almost $8 million over the past decade."

Inver Grove Heights is struggling too. According to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, the Inver Grove Heights city council just voted to shift $3 million in city funds to cover longstanding debt at the failing Inver Woods Golf Course.

And the Red Wing city council voted this month to put a non-profit organization in charge of the long-struggling Mississippi National Golf Links’ operations.

None of this should come as a surprise to Minnesota taxpayers. In fact, the Freedom Foundation released a report several years ago exposing how taxpayers were subsidizing their neighbors’ golf rounds to the tune of millions of dollars a year. Unfortunately, even with an increasing number of cities coming around to our point of view, too many cities still continue to operate non-essential "enterprise funds" for everything from city-owned liquor stores to failing golf courses.

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