Despite a bold, suck up assurance to the Select Board from Town Manager John Musante -- "The golf course will cover its operating and employee benefits costs entirely from user fees" -- the White Elephant continues to lumber along in the red as Cherry Hill Golf Course closed the fiscal year requiring $47,141 in tax support, a little more than it did the previous year.
Now $47,000 may not sound like much, but it seems to be the best case scenario with the ailing recreation business. And worse case scenario is a repeat of the seven straight years (2001-2007) the course required $100,000 in annual tax support.
The course always comes close to covering "operation costs" but those costs do not include employee benefits, capital items (heavy equipment), and insurance. Cherry Hill never covers those.
So the year that just started July 1st (FY14) the course has an extra $12,000 in capital over and above the year just completed. Thus they will easily lose $60,000. Still, not such a big deal. However the following year (FY15) they have $97,500 in capital improvements on tap, so that year they will lose between $130,000 and $140,000.
Having such a large piece of property tied up in the golf business rather than, say, student housing, a solar farm, or private landfill -- all of which would pay significant annual property taxes -- underscores the hidden value of opportunity costs. In this case, opportunity lost.
Even Amherst Golf Course, owned by tax-exempt Amherst College, pays over $7,000 per year in property taxes to the town yet still manages to make money for the College. Maybe we should let them run Cherry Hill?
Oh yes, that's right, the town already turned down a private management company that offered to pay $30,000 guaranteed annually to run Cherry Hill.
Cherry Hill, at $2.2 million dollars ($4.4 million in today's dollars), was the most expensive land taking in town history. All to satisfy North Amherst NIMBYs, who railroaded Town Meeting into the nefarious use of eminent domain to stop a 134-unit housing development.
Today we have some of those same NIMBYs (Vince O'Connor for one) trying to fast track the town into taking 154 acres of property in northeast Amherst to stop a desperately needed 170 unit student housing development. For an astounding $6.5 million dollars, a new record.
Those who fail to learn from history ...
Notice how nervous Cherry Hill makes public officials