Alberni Golf Club requests annual tax exemption

the tax exemption saves the Cherry Creek club about $25-$30,000 a year, says president

The Alberni Golf Club is once again requesting a property tax exemption from the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD).

The golf club has requested the tax exemption since learning of its existence 15 years ago, and has been successful in receiving the exemption for all 15 years.

Ken Sander, president of Alberni Golf Club, said the tax exemption saves the Cherry Creek club about $25-$30,000 a year.

“Our club is a business and has an annual operating budget of about $1.4 million,” Sander told ACRD board members. “After all fixed costs and unavoidable expenses at the year end, if all goes as planned and there are no financial surprises, we are left with about $50-$60,000…that’s not very much.”

Sander said that the $50 -$60,000 is the only available funds that can be reinvested into the infrastructure of the club, which last year went to a new roof on the main building and the year before a new mower.

“If we had not received this exemption, we would have had to go deeper into debt so we could cover unavoidable expenditures,” Sander said. “Last year was a difficult one and we ended it in a negative cash position. Obviously we cannot survive in the long term if this trend continues.”

This year, in order to try to stimulate growth and create more revenue, the golf club implemented a major membership drive.

“We were wildly successful in acquiring 48 new members,” Sander said. “At the same time however, we lost 24 members for various reasons. My fear is that even if we somehow attain new younger members each year, this number will be surpassed by our older members leaving the game.”

According to their website, the club currently has about 400 members. A standard membership for one person is $1,760 annually or $2,960 for married couples. For junior players (10-18 years old) annual fees are $245 and for intermediate players (19-35 years old) memberships range from $620 to $ 1,240 depending on age.

To increase revenue, memberships went up by six per cent this year and Sander said will rise again next year.

“We must exercise caution with the amount so that we do not drive members away,” Sander said. “We are doing everything within our capability to keep the club operational but we need assistance from the regional district.”

In order to minimize costs, the club does not employ a manager but rather a board of directors manages all club operations.

“I can not emphasize enough the importance of the exemption,” Sander said. “It is the difference of our club continuing to move forward in a competitive market or slowly and surely aging, deteriorating and ultimately being lost along with the benefits it provides to the community. To lose this exemption would be nothing short of devastating to the club and to lose the club would be devastating to the community.”

Sander said there are approximately 40,000 rounds of golf played at the club per year and numerous charity events are hosted there that generate thousands of dollars in revenue for the community.

“We just hosted our 25th annual Charity Golf Classic tournament that over the years has now generated more than $800,000 for the Children’s Hospital and local charities,” he said.

A decision on the exemption was not made at the ACRD meeting.

karly.blats@albernivalleynews.com