Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Treading in a sandpit

So I’m a tad surprised the Town Manager and our Leisure Services recreation empire have not issued one of those disingenuous press releases trumpeting how terrific the Cherry Hill Golf course—our municipally owned White Elephant--performed this past year (FY10 ended June 30)

And indeed, compared to all too many years this past one was a hole in one, with "expenses" of $217,220.94 and overall revenues of $250,381.04. Although the town manager and LSSE did project last year that Cherry Hill would intake $262,000; and none of that $12,000 difference comes out of their hides.

But still, before you conclude the business turned a profit of $33,000 those “expenses” do not include that pesky $25,000 in employee benefits or $7,000 for clubhouse and liability insurance paid out of separate, hidden, parts of the town budget.

And this year they did not have any capital items (like last year’s $22,000 lawnmower for instance), which of course begs the question: why no capital items?

A golf course is exceedingly hard on heavy equipment, and since a study done five years ago discovered two-thirds of Cherry Hill’s extensive collection of heavy machines were beyond their rated lifespan, kind of makes you wonder?

Deferred maintenance is an easy but shortsighted way to make a budget look good.

And this past March the DPW had to scurry out to the golf course (at the expense of many other more important things they do) and help spruce it up for an early spring opening.

When the Amherst Redevelopment Authority met with Hanover Town officials recently regarding development they did with Dartmouth College for our proposed Gateway Project with Umass, town manager Julia Griffin mentioned how refreshing it was to be away from her former gig in the capital city of Concord—mainly because of the tough politics and the constant drain on the city budget from two municipal white elephants: an airport and a golf course.

Sooooo, I guess it could be worse…


Ass't Town Mgr John Musante: Hate that damn capital! (makes me twitch)


Anonymous said...

"Locked in"

"As part of his new job, Musante's salary will be increased from $96,665 to $102,351 on July 1. This wage increase, Shaffer said, is part of ensuring that high-performing staff are locked in.

"John is an important and valued member of the town of Amherst team, and I want to make sure that he is on our team for a long time."

Select Board member Hwei-Ling Greeney, though, said that despite the excellent contributions Musante makes, the appointment is creating a new position with a higher salary.

"My concern is it's a new position, and there are costs associated with the position," Greeney said. "If one new position is created, I believe that one other position should be consolidated."

Greeney said it would have been better for Shaffer to wait until he produced his budget, due in the middle of January, to propose this change. Greeney is also worried that the schools, which have long been without an assistant superintendent, might be inspired to seek one.

Select Board member Anne Awad said she shares the concern about the budget implications, and the abbreviated notice board members were given by Shaffer about the new appointment."

LarryK4 said...

Actually I think that was more of a "consolation prize" for getting beat out by Mr. Shaffer for the Grand Prize of becoming Town Manager.

Although these days the real Grand Prize seems to be Superintendent of Schools.

Anonymous said...

Or Jones Library Director.

Another prized plum.

LarryK4 said...

Well hey, at least the current Director has been doing her job six times longer than the current Town Manager and School Super combined.

Anonymous said...

Amherst, what a concept...

Anonymous said...

Hooray for Cherry Hill! Despite Larry's bleating it's doing great even during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Larry may not love it but local glofers do!

LarryK4 said...

Yeah I could have guessed you were one of them local "glofers," and considering over half the season pass holders are from outside Amherst "local" is the correct term.

Anonymous said...

Snake in a snake-pit more like it.

Anonymous said...

Hey what's that prick nose Gerry Weiss up to these days?

Anonymous said...

Outsiders? Even better! Helps boost our local economy.