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Village Vision News

Forsyth pledges $50,000 toward golf tourney

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Forsyth came to the rescue after corporate sponsorship ended for a women’s professional golf tournament that has been held each June for nearly 30 years at Hickory Point Golf Course.

In an effort to save the event, Forsyth trustees pledged $50,000 for the 2013 tournament and also pledged an additional $50,000 for the 2014 tournament, with all funds to be paid from the Village’s hotel/motels taxes restricted for tourism efforts. Matching funds are expected to come from the city of Decatur for both years and will ensure a portion of the prize money for Symetra Tour, the tournament organizer that had requested funding support.

Last year’s tournament reflected its major sponsor and was named the Tate & Lyle Players Championship. Now it will be known as the Decatur-Forsyth Classic, pending Decatur’s partnership as a sponsor.

The Village contributed $20,000 for the 2012 event, also from the hotel/motel tax revenue fund. That fund’s balance will stand at $300,000 after the golf tournament pledges. Trustees discontinued the practice of collecting hotel/motel taxes earlier this year, so the amount in the fund will continue to be reduced as the funds are spent.

“We have enough to cover all commitments,” said Village Administrator Mike Miller. Trustee Bob Rasho had advanced the idea of abandoning the hotel/motel tax structure and said he now favored funding the tournament in an effort to exhaust the remaining monies for a specific purpose. Miller indicated that Symetra’s request met all the necessary requirements for expenditure of funds restricted by the hotel/motel tax for a non-home rule municipality.

“This request is ‘Taylor-made’ for drawing people to the Village’s hotels and a hole in one for our business community and residents,” Miller commented. Mayor Hap Gilbert echoed his support in saying the event ”…is precisely why we collected [hotel/motel taxes].”

The decision to increase the amount from last year was a tough decision for trustee Eric Morr. “Essentially, this is a two-year ‘bailout’ as [Symetra Tour’s] private, title sponsorship donors are not materializing … we’re government, not a business,” he said. Despite that, he joined trustees Steve Hubbard, Marilyn Johnson, Bob Rasho and Larry Reed in the 5-1 vote to approve the funding after which he said he was 51 percent supportive because of the need to support local businesses. Trustee Kerstin Trachtenberg’s “no” vote came with a question when she asked if the Board wasn’t “…setting ourselves up to be a $50,000 sponsor for all eternity?”

Trustee Reed said the Board’s decision was reflective of the need for even more involvement by the Village. He suggested involving personnel from the summer park program by coordinating a golf clinic for its youth. “We could have a three-hole tournament for our kids,” he said.

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