Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Still sinking in a sand trap


So at Monday night's illustrious Select Board meeting our highly-paid bean-counter bureaucrats presented a how-we-doing budget analysis now that FY2010 is one-quarter completed.

(Naturally ACTV screwed up the live broadcast so us taxpayers have yet to see it, but I grabbed a PDF of the Select Board media package from the town website.)

Municipally owned and operated Cherry Hill Golf Course revenues stand at a pathetic $88,350 compared to $97,675 at this time two years ago. And expenses--you know that other half of the simple but important equation-- were $81,658 compared to $71,178 two years ago.

In other words revenues are down 9% while expenses are up 11.4%. Nice combination if you can afford it.

In the private sector when met with declining revenues we try to cut expenses. Last quarter, while millions of workers were laid off nationwide, about the only segment to show an employment gain was (BIG) government.

Be afraid. Be very afraid!

The Amherst Bulletin reported (but forgets to follow up)

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

You should get up every morning, kneel next to your bed and thank the lucky stars you don't live in South Hadley.

Or maybe the South Hadley residents should.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, actually I do.

But my Irish mother taught me "two wrongs don't make a right."

And notice when Barry Del Castilho (one of Cherry Hill's biggest cheerleaders) spent a year or so as "acting" town manager of South Hadley he did everything possible to keep that gigantic White Elephant well fed with taxpayer dollars (including by-passing ADA requirements on the WalMart quality Clubhouse.)

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute, according to your numbers it's almost $7 grand in the black. More profitable than AAC.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, except the year we are comparing it to they went on to lose a tad over $7 grand.

A Hell of a lot more if you factor in the $30 grand per year we could have had by turning the turkey over to Niblick Management to privatize it, rejected because they wanted a three year deal.

Kind of like measuring a fitness club's performance by only looking at January's revenues/expenditures (the number one month nationwide for health clubs because of "New Year's Resolutions") and being optimistic.

Notice also by the Amherst Bulletin puff piece from two years ago that the Town Manager actually issued a PR flack press release in order to get that article.

The Town Mangler did no such thing this time.

Anonymous said...

You're living in the past. Why not just admit that the golf course is in fact doing BETTER than it ever has in its history & move on to other topics that have more relevance in TODAY'S world. You're starting (or continuing?) to act like Don Quixote with your constant tilting at imaginary golf course windmills. Did someone hit you with a golf ball when you were a kid, or maybe run you over with a golf cart? Get over it.

LarryK4 said...

Hmmm...and what is it you don't get about VERY simple figures (revenues down and expenses up 10%) from two years ago where they finished with a loss?

I could find numerous years where their First Quarter Report was better than this (and those would be years they went on to lose upward of $100-K because of the five-year loan repay for the capital improvement that were sooooo going to increase revenues)

Anonymous said...

Is it time again to revisit the time-tested excuses for Cherry Hill underperformance?

a) the recession, or any other convenient economic downturn that may be at hand
b) the weather
c) inadequate advertising
d) Kelley badmouthing
e) all of the above, or
f) give me a minute, and I'll think of something

There's at least one of these operating almost every single year, so Cherry Hill has never gotten a fair chance.

Anonymous said...

Did the loan get repaid? If so, then what's your beef? This is not some huge sink hole for money. Seems to me there are bigger fish to fry.

LarryK4 said...

Oh yes of course it was repaid. All $286,000; and all of it with taxpayer money (none of it from golf revenues.)

And of course the original $2.2 million (in 1987 dollars) for the acquisition was ALSO entirely repaid--almost all of it with town tax $ (they did manage a $500,000 Open Space Grant from the state which I believe South Hadley also got 6 or 7 years ago when they first created their even BIGGER sinkhole.)

Anonymous said...

Of course the acquisition cost was out of tax dollars. The town was acquiring land.

LarryK4 said...

But of course. You forget the LSSE (you know that socialized recreation empire) Director at the time told Town Meeting that revenues from the golf business would repay the loan.

"The sun will come out tomorrow...tomorrow"

Anonymous said...

One of the many, many holes in your Cherry Hill arguments is your constant reference to the Niblick Mgmt. contract which would have paid the town 30k/year...BUT (and a very important "but!"), the clause you alway fail to mention is the one that stated that the TOWN would still own the land, the equipment, etc. and, as such, would have been solely responsible for the maintenance, replacement, etc. of those assets. Translation: we would have had a bushel full of costs/expenses and yet a VERY limited revenue stream with which to offset those expenses (exactly 30k/year). This arrangment would be faaarrrr from the slam dunk that you portray it as and yet you seem reluctant to scratch a little deeper on this one, instead turning a blind eye to any facts that take away from your ongoing "case" against Cherry Hill and its current management. Why is that? Why is this particular issue so personal with you?

ChipSeal said...

The bigger the government, the smaller the individual is.

LarryK4 said...

Because as someone who knows the recreation business I'm offended that the town would squander over the past ten years a million dollars on the operation of a golf course and yet close down an outdoor swimming pool (serving many, many times more children) for the first time in 50 years this past summer to save $50,000 in tax money.

Anonymous said...

So, you knew a decade ago that Cherry Hill would bring about the closing of Memorial pool? What a load of B.S.

It's Memorial pool that's the sink hole. It's an antiquated relic that's almost been closed a dozen times. Northampton got rid of their pool years ago.

LarryK4 said...

Memorial Pool was built in the early 1950s so it is indeed antiquated.

And I actually agree with the Town Mangler (who very well could be you) that it should be replaced (as Look Park did) with a water spray park. But that still costs a lot of money up front--money the town does not have.

Speaking of an "antiquated relic", a 2003 study done by a Town Meeting Blue Ribbon committee to revive the Golf Course because it has "almost closed" a few times discovered that two-thirds of Cherry Hill's heavy equipment (meaning very expensive) were beyond their operationally rated lifespan.

Like last year's $22,000 lawnmower for instance (you know, from a Capital account on the other side of the town budget so it does not show up as a cost of doing the business of golf--along with the Clubhouse insurance and employee benefits).

Anonymous said...

Why is taxpayer money used for the special interests of a select few? Maybe the town could install a velodrome or groom the property for cross country skiing. I would like that. Or someone might like a curling pavillion or an ice skating rink. How about polo grounds or a race car track, a rifle range, a ski jump. Why do parks have basketball courts, tennis courts or soccer fields. Who determines what sports are sponsered by the taxpayers?

Anonymous said...

Larry Kelley. Proud owner of a dilapidated health club, located above a used furniture store and a Mexican Restaurant - WHICH - I guess is an improvement over the Fish Market that used to be there...

Larry gets kicked out of elementary schools (trespass order)...
Puts fear in town officials by stalking them...
E-Mails the superintendent with the subject line VAGINAS VAGINAS VAGINAS...
Biggest priority in his life is promoting the hanging of hundreds of flags throughout Amherst...

Cherry Hill > AAC

fact.

LarryK4 said...

All I can tell ya Anon 10:26 (not to be confused with nitwit Anon 10:28) is that there is nothing more expensive in the recreation business for basic overhead than golf (well, except maybe for a few indoor downhill skiing facilities in Japan)

Anonymous said...

To give you credit Larry you did once knock out Billy Blanks...

After that your career paths, wealth, and sanity went in 2 completely different directions...

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, and I've knocked out (figuratively speaking of course) a few town officials as well.

Anonymous said...

Like when the superintendents got a restraining order against you. Preventing you from entering an elementary school after you illegally (and creepily) entered a boys bathroom. Oh, and left broken glass on the floor.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah and where is that Acting Co-Superintendent NOW? His replacement quickly vacated the trespass order.

I know it's late but try to pay attention.

Entry was not illegal as it's a public building. No glass involved as the thermometer was made of plastic and did not contain mercury.

And all of this has WHAT to do with a quarterly finance report (issued by an assistant Town Manager no less) that clearly shows Cherry Hill revenues are down 9% and expenses are up 11.4% from two years ago?

A fact is a fact is a fact.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the anarchists are getting a little frazzled Larry...

LarryK4 said...

At least the ones who like their golf subsidized (or live in that neighborhood and like the low-volume traffic)

Anonymous said...

"public building"

It's a town-owned building. You seem to be confused on the difference. That's like saying you have the right to walk into the White House anytime you want because you are a blogger. If you don't have kids that go to school there you don't belong there, especially when they ask you to leave.

But that's in ther past and you don't live in the past, except when it comes to flogging the acquisition of Cherry Hill, which was a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

"Why do parks have basketball courts, tennis courts or soccer fields."

Because that's what communities provide. They also provide parking lots, town commons, sidewalks and lots of other things that serve not special interests, they serve a variety of different interests. No one person uses all of the things a town provides. The users of Cherry Hill are not a special interest anymore than the people who use the Bang's Community Center or the landfill.

LarryK4 said...

Not very many communities provide Golf Courses (and for very good reasons)

Anonymous said...

Right. There are only 7,955.

LarryK4 said...

How many in Massachusetts? Because geography makes a BIG difference as golf is totally reliant on weather.

And it is after all, RAINING at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Well anon 11:57 at least you didn't answer my Why question with "because I said so". Your response of because that is what towns provide does not answer the question why. Also your point about the sidewalks serving a variety of interests just opposes your rational for a golf course which serves the interests of a few.

Anonymous said...

No one sidewalk serves everyone. It depends where you live.

Why wouldn't you expect a town to have a park with basketball courts?

The answer to the question about why they do have basketball courts, slides, sand boxes, and tennis courts is obvious, it's because people want them.

Anonymous said...

Back to the question re: the Niblick conract (that you so deftly avoided)...do you not remember reading about that clause re: the TOWN being respnsible for the care, maintenance, and replacement of any/all assets at Cherry Hill? (eg the club house, the mowers, the irrigation system, etc.) If so, you would know that the 30k that Niblick had agreed to pay the Town each year wouldn't have gone very far (you yourself just mentioned a 22k lawn mower that was purchased last year...and deferred maintenance out there...and...???) Bottom line: 30k/year from Niblick would have probably put the Town FURTHER in the red!!!

LarryK4 said...

Then if it put the town "further in the red" you are admitting that the infrastructure is tired, very tired indeed (which of course it is).

What I find hilarious is the town manager (who very well could be you) did not even read his own bid specs because the cover letter said the bidder would be responsible for property taxes (you know something Cherry Hill does not pay but Amherst Golf Course--owned by tax exempt Amherst College does to the tune of $7,500 per year).

And of course the town in 2003 had suddenly assessed the Golf Enterprise Fund with a $17,000 annual property tax (that they of course never paid).

But it was in the bid specs and Niblick said they assumed that was part of the overall bid on top of their actual bid of $5,000.

So the original reason town officials nixed the bid is because they thought it was only for $5,000.

None of this changes the fact that a quarterly finance report (issued by an assistant Town Manager no less) clearly shows Cherry Hill revenues are now down 9% and expenses are up 11.4% from two years ago.

Anonymous said...

God, what is wrong with this town?


It really gets to be not very funny after a while.