Saturday, July 20, 2013

Gluttonou$ Game of Golf

 

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
  video video

18 comments:

Walter Graff said...

What a waste. All this taxpayer money going to Cherry Hill when it could be going to buying The Retreat property.

If you want to live in a college town, you have to be willing to let college kids live here too. You have to be willing to understand that growth is inevitable. You have to realize that more than half your population is college students and that number will only grow. It's a college town. All these people who teach all these courses in economics and the like ought to read their own text books.

Amherst wants to build a swimming pool but doesn't want to allow any water to be used to fill it, anyone to use the pool, nor anyone to park near the pool.

Anonymous said...

I don't recall the delightful option of a stinky landfill having been one of the options at the time, but if it had been, I'm sure it would have been turned down.

Dr. Ed said...

I still wonder what will happen when (not if) the higher education bubble implodes. Demographics (Gen Y, the "baby boomlet" are now in their 20's), money (parents don't have what they had a decade ago), and the end of the perception that a BA/BS will guarantee Junior a "good job" are all coming in to play here.

Throw in the fact that every college in the country has expanded over the past 15 years -- and essentially presumes an ability to steal students from other institutions -- and that UM neither treats students very well itself nor do the UM kids find Amherst particularly welcoming -- and I wonder what happens when they simply don't show up some fall.

Amherst could well become a smaller version of Detroit -- a one-industry town without its industry and an expensive government it is unable to fund.

Anonymous said...

Just wondering......
Is there a place one can exchange views and share ideas and information on the internet about Amherst that is hosted by someone whose presentation models civility and respectful expression of views that might encourage consensus and a mature meeting of minds of those who want to grow and learn in this manner?

I very much appreciate and learn from others' views that are very different from mine when they are stated earnestly and respectfully.


Just wondering.....

Larry Kelley said...

Feel free to start your own.

Anonymous said...

Consensus in Amherst? When? Where? How?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for making my point.

Chimps, chumps and Ponzivillers said...

Amherst?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wln6lNTxVpY


Um, you fail.


(you betcha!)

Anonymous said...

So, then, this blog is apparently aimed at those who would prefer engaging in sarcasm, immature. and frequently mean spirited repartee to having authentic dialog that might encourage collaborative problem-solving approaches to the issues at hand..

Is that so?

Larry Kelley said...

Pretty high and mighty coming from an Anon.

Walter Graff said...

Clearly Larry it's an intellectual. Tom Sowell is right about Amherst.

Larry Kelley said...

Yeah, only thing worse than an intellectual is a CAN NIMBY intellectual.

Anonymous said...

I say sell it. Put the money into OPEB. Build student housing, low income housing whatever the town wants. build something to ease the the tax burden on the rest of us.

Walter Graff said...

UMASS will always have students Ed. It's like the states community college.

Dr. Ed said...

Walter - I would never have believed Northampton State Hospital would be closed, nor the Belchertown School.

I would have said that there will always be crazy people and retarded kids and those places will always be open. And are they?

People go to community college because it is (a) cheap, (b) in their community, and (c) something that will help them get a job. When UM is none of the three, well....

Anonymous said...

Thank you sincerely, Mr. Kelley

Your forthrightness makes it clear that you hold yourself to no standards when it comes to civility and respect for others ideas when they don't match yours 100 per cent.

While this deeply saddens me, it does relieve me of the burden of hoping that your blog might be a place for civil and mature discussion.

With Regrets

Larry Kelley said...

You're sincerely welcome.

Anonymous said...

Welcome maybe, sincerely, not likely.