Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Cover Up Continues



In his FY14 budget Letter of Transmittal to his bosses the Select Board, Town Manager John Musante writes, "The 9-hole Cherry Hill Golf Course budget increases by $2,465 (+1%). In addition to offering one of the best values in Western Massachusetts it will expand its winter programming as well as introduce a disc golf program. The golf course will cover its operating and employee benefits costs entirely from user fees."

Hmm ... maybe the Town Manager needs to look up the definition of "entirely".

First of all, according to his own figures, the $2,465 increase is a 1.6% increase over last year's budget, so it would be more correct to round up to 2% rather than down to 1%.



Second of all, according to his own figures, the golf course is "projected" to intake $268,000 against semi-total expenditures of  $277,629  ($240,100 operating and $37,529 employee benefits).  In the red by almost $10,000 or $9,629 to be exact.  Thus the user fees do not entirely cover overhead.

Now I use the term "semi-total expenditures" because those two overhead costs combined leave out one other important cost of doing business in the expensive world of golf:  capital equipment. 

And in FY14 that comes to another $26,654 in lease payments on two mowers, or a grand total of $304,283 against an overly optimist projection of $268,000 in revenues, or a loss of $36,283.

Of course the real problem is the Golf Course will not take in $268,000.  In FY12 , for example, they were "projected" to intake -- guess what? -- $268,000.   But, according to the Town Manager's figures, only managed $242,569.

That year total expenditures with employee benefits and capital came to $283,106 for a loss of over $40,000 or $40,537 to be exact.

Interestingly last year the capital request spreadsheet for the golf course showed a projected total of $135,654 in FY14, the two movers plus $24,000 for a fence and $85,000 for parking lot resurfacing. 


Last year's Cherry Hill five year plan


Those two expensive items have simply been shuffled into the near future along with another BIG ticket $60,000 item, Irrigation Pond Dredging.

Even by fudging the figures Cherry Hill does not "cover its operating and employee benefits cost." And the expensive capital items -- entirely paid for by taxpayers rather than "user fees" -- over the next five years average $50,000 annually.
   
And that alone would cover the cost of one badly needed police officer or firefighter. 
  
This year's five year plan



27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey John, come on over to the blog.

Gotta coupla questions for you.





Anonymous said...

Well this certainly doesn't look to good but compared to the money the schools wastes John is a novice. I would venture to say this waste is practically irrelevant compared to our schools. We should probably limit his exposure to Maria Geryk. He might learn how to waste money like a pro.

Anonymous said...

Amherst has turned wasting money into a fine art. And trying to shine a light on it does no good. As long as I've been here, it's only escalated. I don't get it. Larry has tried to bring these topics up. Former members of the school committee have done the same. Larry's the only one who has stuck around and continued. Still no change. Thanks Larry for pointing it out. You do a lot of leg work, and some of us appreciate it, but I doubt anything will change. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Just saying that Maria Geryk is wasting money does not make it true. Taking pot shots at people who are working hard for our town frim a place of unadulterated ignorance is not helpful.

Walter Graff said...

Need I say more. Amherst is a disaster. Yes Maria Geryk is one of the biggest money wasters. Yes anyone that tries to challenge her is squashed. People are waking up though and not only becoming more vocal but finally doing something about all this.

Anonymous said...

Amherst is one big white Elephant, and no I won't point fingers at any one individual as it is a ecliptic contribution of many that brought this town to the state it is in today. My heart goes out to the people that are long time residents and lived here when Amherst might have been a blossoming community. I am a local person that resides here but I am not a Amherst Townie, as I grew up a couple of towns over and have only lived here for 16 years. In those 16 years all I have seen is bickering, finger pointing, and a constant resistance to business growth within the borders. In my very small opinion Amherst will continue to have these troubles till they accept the fact they need to change and that change means business growth on all levels. Not just food service and drinking establishments.

Anonymous said...

Um, but doesn't Amherst have a million dollar surplus?pTCOCt1101

Anonymous said...

Maria Geryk has done more for the Amherst school system in her time as Superintendent than was done during all of Jere Hochman's and Gus Sayer's years here put together! She is totally restructuring the way things are done and we are going to see huge improvements in outcomes as the new ideas kick in! Amherst is lucky to have Maria Geryk as Superintendent!

Anonymous said...

You are bashing this and a few days ago you were promoting the purchase of a Police motorcycle that might get ridden in a parade (if a parade ever happens?). Well, at least people will get to play golf.

Anonymous said...

I am happy to pay high taxes for excellence in town services and schools. Are we getting them?

Anonymous said...

anon 10:38:

I wonder what will satisfy you.

Anonymous said...

Anon Feb 15, 9:34 AM.....
That's the funniest thing I've read all week! Maria Geryk has surely hypnotized you with her wasteful and self serving kool-aid. One has to look no further than the cost per student and overall student performances and compare them to surrounding towns. Poor Amherst, spend, spend, spend with idealistic and un-quantified reasoning.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:02, Can you tell me what new initiaves Maria Geryk has implemented since become Superintendent designed to improve performances of all students and specifically address the achievement gap issues? When is the last time you watched a school committee meeting? Can you tell me anything about what is happening in the schools TODAY??? Anything? If not, then you are as bad as Walter - all words and opinions and no substance.

I know Maria Geryk to be a hard working Superintendent who ONLY has the best interests of the kids in mind. Have you ever spoken to her to find out what her vision and goals are for the schools? No? Then your words are not worth the space you are taking up here. They are not worth the time it took to read them. It's just more knee jerk crap from the Tea Party folks who inhabit Amherst.

Anonymous said...

This is exactly why Amherst will be footing the bill for my kid to opt out of this seriously defunct system, and go to school outside of Amherst.

Dr. Ed said...

First, I always thought that a golf course had 18 holes, not 9, but I digress. And my solution is only half in jest:

1: Amherst has a problem with noisy "student" parties consisting of large numbers of young people wanting to be loud, drunk & obnoxious as that is the absolute best way to meet the person of the opposite sex with whom you wish to spend the rest of your life.

2: When the actual "cash" costs and non-cash costs (e.g. being arrested, CSC hassles, etc.) are combined, UM students are willing to pay a significant cost to attend these parties, and even more to be recognized as the persons hosting them.

3: These parties are disturbing parents with small children (etc) and the disturbance factor has been getting considerably worse notwithstanding great efforts and increasingly draconian sanctions -- nothing so far seems to have worked.

4: Amherst has a "white elephant" of a golf course that has never broken even as a golf course -- let alone made money for the town.

5: "Enterprise funds" *are* allowed to make money and to either invest this profit in the "enterprise" or to give the profit to the town where it is considered revenue the same as property tax revenue. The municipal electric/gas companies routinely do this -- investing some in long-term infrastructure and returning some to the town itself.

6: A golf course has to be big enough for errant golf balls not to be bouncing off neighboring houses. The pros routinely drive golf balls 320 yards, almost 2/10 of a mile, and a golf course has to be big enough for errantly-driven golf balls to go that far in other directions as well as the intended direction.

QED there both is a lot of land out there and also enough to serve as a natural buffer zone between it and adjacent properties.

Ed's Solution: Forget about golf and make it the Cherry Hill Young Adult Recreation Center. Accept the fact that the college kids are going to have loud parties and give them a place to have them -- where they aren't bothering everyone else.

Charge them a reasonable price - just slightly more than your costs but not much more -- and Cherry Hill will go from being the budget-busting white elephant to a revenue line on the annual budget.

Hire detail officers on overtime and make sure that no one driving out of there is intoxicated -- there's only one road so this is doable -- and hire detail ambulances to address all medical issues including alcohol poisoning. Make it completely BYOB so there's no liability for providing alcohol and treat it like Woodstook.

I say all of this only half in jest -- this actually would work...

Dr. Ed said...

In response to my inevitable critics:

Brute force hasn't worked. You haven't stopped the loud student parties. Your resources are being used at full capacity and the problem is getting worse.

And what is it that you really want? Do you honestly care if the college kids are having wild parties, drinking too much and the rest?

If they weren't bothering you in doing this, would you care? Even if you did, in the binary choice between what you have now and them not bothering you anymore, which would be preferable?

Just asking.....

Larry Kelley said...

Cowardly Nitwit Anon Golfer 10:11 AM
I would much rather subsidize a cop on a motorcycle over a duffer in a golf cart.

Anonymous said...

<And what is it that you really want? Do you honestly care if the college kids are having wild parties, drinking too much and the rest?

Duh! Did you miss something? Did you miss the neighbors that have to live next to Animal-House-like behavior? That have students throwing up and peeing in their yards? That have loud parties blasting away at all hours of the night while they are trying to sleep? Hello!!! Where have you been?

Anonymous said...

We want them to be polite and well-behaved, just like adults are.

Anonymous said...

By duffer you mean a senior citizen that has paid years and years of property taxes?

Larry Kelley said...

Yes, and received more than your monies worth in basic, vital, necessary services.

Anonymous said...

Ed, you idiot, we already have places for college students to drink and party. They are called bars!

Anonymous said...

Larry's right, all we need to do is hire thousands of police and firemen. If you you were as smart as Larry, you would know this is the only solution. Maybe a couple of motorcycles or firetrucks now and then. I know put a siren on the clubhouse that will get rid of all those pesky golfers.

Larry Kelley said...

Sarcasm usually requires its own font. Unless of course the statement is that childishly silly.

Dr. Ed said...

"The Puritans could not tolerate the fact that somebody, somewhere, was having a good time."

The Cherry Hill comment was an experiment to see if I got the responses I did.

I suggest that the issue with the UMass students is not that they are disturbing you but that they are having fun and -- like the Puritans -- you don't want them to be having fun...

Anonymous said...

That comment shows you truly are an idiot. No none cares about fun or not fun. They just want to be able to get a good night's sleep.

Anonymous said...

No one has commented on the "disc golf" John Musante has apparently already accepted or approved — although Barbara, C.H. manager, says it's still "under consideration."

This is keeping me and my friends away from the course and diminishing its proceeds. I know a few members who have not joined this year for golf because of this — it's just not pleasant to think of sharing the course with kids throwing frisbees.

They'd've been better off figuring out how to improve the layout of the course, improving facilities, rather than this choice. Now THAT would have increased use and income!