A three-year water-usage agreement between Laramie and the University of Wyoming for watering the Jacoby Golf Course could cost the city $385,000 annually, Laramie Administrative Services Director Malea Brown said.
After months of negotiation with UW, Laramie city staff presented the council with an updated Jacoby Golf Course water contract during Tuesday night’s regular meeting.
“They’re still getting a discount, but it’s based on a higher number,” Brown said. “They’re paying a percent of the true cost of service.”
Previously, the golf course received water from the city at about 25 percent of the standard rate. But with the new contract, Brown said UW would be charged about 30 percent of the standard rate for water usage up to 75,000 kilogallons and standard rates after.
Discounting the water means the city would receive $385,000 less than it could receive if it charged UW full price, she said.
“So basically, we’re asking every person who gets a water bill to give an extra $45-50 to the golf course regardless of whether they use it?” Vice Mayor Jayne Pearce asked.
Brown said it wasn’t as simple as putting a dollar figure on each bill, and the city’s usage of some water funds for infrastructure projects further complicated determining the cost to Laramie residents.
“It’s not the same price for every user,” Brown said.”We’re taking a hit — the city itself.”
“But the city’s funds are the people’s funds,” Pearce replied.
Because of the financial situation in Laramie and throughout the state, Pearce said she could not support the agreement.
“We are extremely lucky that we have someone else managing and to some degree financing that golf course,” Councilor Dave Paulekas said. “We have to have a golf course for a lot reasons for a community this size.”
To maintain a healthy relationship with UW and continue providing Laramie a desired service, approving the contract was in the council’s best interest, Paulekas said.
“We have a lot of partnerships with UW,” he said. “It makes sense to me for us to help with golf course.”
Councilor Charles McKinney said the money could be better used elsewhere in the city.
“You’re just paying to play,” McKinney said.
Councilor Joe Shumway said he could see both sides of the argument, but he supported the agreement.
“It’s not perfect — it’s not ideal,” Shumway said. “But I think it’s reasonable and manageable.”
Mayor Andi Summerville said the agreement was overdue.
“I think there are better solutions out there rather (than) asking the citizens of Laramie to bear the brunt of the cost,” Summerville said. “But I’m going to support this.”
The council approved the water agreement 6-2 with Pearce and McKinney voting no and Councilor Vicki Henry absent.
The council also approved a professional services agreement with HDR Engineering for a software program that could help city staff project traffic patterns.
“This will be used to determine how traffic will flow for the entire city,” Laramie City Engineer Eric Jaap said.