Friday, March 23, 2007

Golf anyone?

To no surprise nobody showed up for the “mandatory” site visit at the Cherry Hill Golf Course yesterday so now another Request For Proposals (maybe they should have said “please” in the ads) has gone bust and we’re stuck with the White Elephant.

So in next year’s budget the town still has on the chopping block five firefighters, two cops and the outdoor War Memorial Pool, all costing less than the golf course--even though the former are far more utilized by Amherst taxpayers than the latter, where half the season pass holders are from out of town.

Hence the title of this Blog: Only in the Republic of Amherst!


Chris Boyd said...

What would be the cost to the Town if the golf course was not opened this year? Are there outstanding debt payments for club house or irrigation?

LarryK4 said...

No debt left on $286,000 clubhouse/irrigation or the 1987 $2.2 million original land purchase price (the most expensive purchase in town history). Estimated cost to maintain as Open Space only (so that folks could still play Frisbee, cross country ski, or check out the critters) is under $10,000 annually, and would satisfy the requirement of the $500,000 Open Space Grant from the state.

Interestingly, one excuse to never close down the golf business was another $10,000 per year cost—employee retirement benefit—that now has gone away since the ONLY full-time employee, Dan Engstrom, mysteriously resigned last week and therefore sacrifices his retirement benefits.

And since he was only a few years from retirement and was making 60K per year his retirement would have been around $40K per year for the rest of life and I have to assume he’s rated for another twenty to twenty five years, so whatever he did to get fired (oops..I mean quit) cost him almost a million.


Chris Boyd said...

What were the requirements of the RFP? The Town is losing $200K a year, would they accept a bid of $1? Of course, if the Town paid someone $20K to cut the grass then the Town would still "save" $180K.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, I still remember former town manager Barry Del Castilho using the term "turnaround" almost 4 years ago when he gave away the concessions contract (including beer/wine license worth $1,000) to Harpo Power, a compatriot of Select board Czar Anne Awad, for only $150/month for the seven-month golf season (all landlords in Amherst are smart enough to tie students into a 12 month rental lease even though they are only in town for 7 months) by proclaiming a “$5,000 turnaround” because Cherry Hill concessions had lost $4,000 the year before and Harpo was guaranteeing $1,050 per year for his three year, no-bid contract.

And interestingly enough the current RFP was not a 3-year GUARANTEED contract (as Harpo’s sweetheart, no-bid, concessions contract was). The town could—for any reason--void the contract after only ONE YEAR.

What businessperson in their right mind would invest money in an endeavor that could end after only one year?

If somebody offered to take this turkey off our hand for a lousy buck a few years back that would be a “turnaround” of well over $100,000 per year from FY00 thru FY2005 (thus saving over half-million freaken dollars), or $58,000 last year or possible more than that amount in the current year.