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
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.