A group of golfers has threatened to file a class action lawsuit against Salt Lake City unless city officials answer several questions about the use of golf course fees and revenues.
Attorney John Michael Coombs, representing golfers Lou Skokos, Ray Miller, Norman Dean, Robert Rehermann, Joan Lally, Paul Soren and Frank Caputo, sent a letter to Mayor Deedee Corradini and S.L. Attorney Roger Cutler on Friday. The letter expresses dissatisfaction with the disbanding of the city's golf enterprise fund in spite of opposition by golfers at a public hearing. The golf funds became part of the city's recreation enterprise fund.Coombs said the money from golf fees is being used to pay for other recreational activities that are not as financially solvent as golf, discriminating against golfers by doubly taxing them for rec-rea-tion.
"We followed every statutory rule," said Cutler. "There was no wrongdoing, and we are prepared to defend our actions."
Cutler said the golfers, Skokos in particular, "have been raising issues about the enterprise fund for a long time. A long, detailed letter" answering most of his questions was written several years ago and is available to the public, he said.
"If he has lost that information, we will be happy to provide it. The public records are available," Cutler added.
The letter also expresses dissatisfaction with $484,000 which was taken out of the golf fund after it was disbanded and applied toward general recreation. Cutler maintains the action was perfectly legal.
The letter also says that "at least $3 million of the golfers' money may have been diverted to `general recreation' and other unrelated city expenditures." The golfers also question a plan to replace the Forest Dale Golf Clubhouse.
"Since the Historical Society or those who share its aesthetic interests are pushing this complete waste of public monies, we submit that they and only they should pay for it," the letter reads.
"That is a question about the wise appropriation of funds without legal ramifications," Cutler said. "Those are decisions elected officials have to make."
The letter listed a number of demands for the city, including:
- Explaining the legal basis for disbanding the golf enterprise fund "and how you can condone past misapplication of such monies."
- Providing an accounting of all money received into the golf enterprise fund since Jan. 1, 1962.
- Reducing current golf fees "to make up for the city's unlawful and unreasonable overcharges since 1981."
"Golf is a big cash cow. It's very tempting, if you're a politician or a bureaucrat, to start grabbing it," Coombs said.
"From the city's perspective, the fees can be defended and we are prepared to do that," Cutler said.
The golfers also demanded that the city:
- Re-establish the golf enterprise fund and insure that funds collected from golfing will be applied only toward the fund.
- Return a total of $789,000 back into the golf enterprise fund,"including all other monies misapplied by city officials since January 1, 1962."
The golfers said if the city does not meet those demands, they will consider filing a suit.
Cutler said he considers the letter a publicity stunt and its language inflammatory. "They are trying to make a political point and grab a headline."
"If challenged, we're prepared to defend ourselves," he said.