Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hidden, catastrophic cost of golf

Cherry Hill's K-Mart quality golf clubhouse

Last night Leisure Services director Linda Chalfant presented the FY13 upcoming budget to the four-out-of-seven members of the recreation commission who bothered to show up, and dubbed Cherry Hill squandering $40,000 last year as, "effectively a break even year." Easy to say when that money is not coming out of her $80,000 annual salary.

And this current year, according to the numbers generated at the half-way point, Cherry Hill is on target to lose another $60,000. And the following year--hold on to your golf caps--well over $100,000!

Because unlike a household or small business, in the wonderful world of municipal accounting little things like employee benefits, insurance and expensive new commercial equipment do not count towards your "operation budget." Last year those three expenses amounted to $40,000--all of it paid for by taxpayers, not a dime from golfers.

Wouldn't it be great if you could buy a new car or truck out of a secret account nobody was watching?

At seasonal closing, the beleaguered golf business has totaled only $82,779, $17,284 under last year, and the lowest amount in six years. Expenses are identical--especially those hidden ones nobody likes to admit.

For instance, capital expenses this year include a $14,154 "fairway mower", next year another $14,154 fairway mower plus a $12,000 rough mower for a total of $26,654.

But what the Hell, since nobody cares about capital items why not go on a whirlwind shopping spree--all of it taxpayer funded? In FY14, two years from now, capital improvements will include yet another fairway ($14,154) and rough mower ($12,500) fence replacement ($24,000) and parking lot resurfacing ($24,000) for a whopping grand total of $135,654 .

If the diffident School Committee can bite the bullet to save money by closing down Mark's Meadow, a beloved elementary school, Town Manager John Musante needs to step up and make the call that should have been made ten years ago: board up the money pit.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

All of these capital expenses are for equipment and things, such as fences and paving, that will last for many years. Therefore, their true cost has to be divided up based on their projected lifespan. Amherst has parks, soccer fields, fountains, playgrounds, etc. that all require similar capital expenditures. Most of them produce less off setting revenue. For example, barbeque grills at Groff park have to be replaced when they runs out yet there is no revenue generated by them. Cherry Hill does a better job of returning most of the cost of providing recreaton than any other of our recreation facilities.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, like the $100,000 per year they lost between 2000 and 2007 just after the $286,000 in capital improvements (k-mart clubhouse and irrigation system) were thrown down the money pit.

That would buy platinum plated barbecue grills for Groff Park.

Anonymous said...

just wanted to inform you that some golfers are indeed taxpayers.

LarryK4 said...

Not nearly enough, obviously.

Anonymous said...

They pay more taxes than the soccer players, not to mention those little freeloaders on those swingsets.

Anonymous said...

count up all the new positions in the schools and the savings from closing marks meadow are long, long gone.

Anonymous said...

Fore!

Anonymous said...

"catastropic: disastrous event; calamitous"

Gee, Kelley, I would have thought you'd save such a word for a real serious problems like 9/11, America's invasion of Iraq, a ship sinking.

A golf course? You're showing your true colors as a writer. Hyperbole is the first sign of an amateur.

LarryK4 said...

Gee, thanks for the critique.

Cowardly Anon Nitwits are so very high on my list for seeking sage advice.

Anonymous said...

Rather be called cowardly by a stuck-up geezer than be one.

LarryK4 said...

Further evidence I do not need writing tips from the likes of you.

Anonymous said...

And as the family crowded around his deathbed, and waited for those last painful minutes to tick down, one of his anonymous commenters, who appeared at the door, entered the warm, cozy home and disclosed that his full name was in fact "Cowardly Nitwit". He then leaned in closely for four last, precious, whispered words of wisdom from the greatest blogmaster Amherst had ever known:

"Close down Cherry Hill"

And then he was gone. And the Internet was no longer such an interesting place. And we all went back to using the Web primarily to cheat on crossword puzzles.

That following Monday evening, in tribute to Larry Kelley, the Select Board publicly conceded that he had been right all along about Cherry Hill's finances, and admitted sheepishly (but not remorsefully) that they and every single prior Select Board member had taken a solemn oath in executive session at the beginning of every 3 year term never to close Cherry Hill. The oath, ironically, had been first instituted as a continuing tribute to long-time Kelley antagonist Hill Boss, a fierce supporter of Cherry Hill when he was on Select Board.

But now that the need to piss Larry off had become moot, the Board summarily, without debate, and on a unanimous vote, closed the course forever.

LarryK4 said...

I'll second that.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Larry, your "second" came after the unanimous vote.
I'm reporting you to the great Ethics Commission in the sky.

LarryK4 said...

Speaking of which...(coming soon).

Anonymous said...

Played a great round there in September. Nice little course. Gorgeous views.

LarryK4 said...

Enjoy it while you can.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Larry, your blog is always entertaining. I never leave without a good laugh.

LarryK4 said...

That's my goal: make half the readers laugh, while the other half cry.

Anonymous said...

Still laughing at the "little freeloaders on the swing sets." :)

Larry, you couldn't get rid of Cherry Hill when Phil Rollins was here, and I'm thinking it won't work now -- unless they want it for a soccer field. Face it, "they" (whoever that is) want Cherry Hill.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, but I dogged him so hard he ran off to DC (where they have two golf courses).

Remember when I first publicly released his salary and pointed out how it was 60% greater than the Mayor of Northampton at the time?

But it was no so much Phil, as it was Town Manager Barry Del Castilho, who unfortunately hung around for twenty years, only to be replaced by town mangler Larry Shaffer who was even worse in his methods of defense for Cherry Hill--as in outright lying.

I have much higher hopes for Mr. Musante.

Anonymous said...

Was the mayor of Noho the father of Mr. Musante?

LarryK4 said...

Yes, still is (well, not still the mayor, but still his dad.)

And John's brother David (named after dad) is now running WHMP radio, which did a good job--journalistically speaking--of covering Mayor Musante back in the day.

Now that I think about it, I miss Ron Hall.