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Committee plans to scrutinize golf course profits

Date: 7/18/2014

AGAWAM – The City Council is considering a motion to create an ad-hoc subcommittee to review the operations of the Agawam Municipal Golf Course and its profitability.
The council referred the resolution to its Community Relations subcommittee during its regular meeting on July 14. Councilors Cecilia Calabrese, George Bitzas, James Cichetti, Paul Cavallo and Dennis Perry will review the matter to recommend whether the council should create the ad-hoc subcommittee.
“I think we need to trace monies,” Councilor Gina Letellier said. “The [fiscal year 2015] budget didn’t reflect the actual income of the course.”
She added that she was concerned that 800 outstanding Groupons remained for the course, which would further increase its deficit.
“We’re concerned there’s been significant revenue drops,” Council President Christopher Johnson said.
During the City Council fiscal year 2015 budget approval meeting on June 23, Letellier asked Mayor Richard Cohen about the status of the Agawam Municipal Golf Course, a self-sustaining department, which was listed as having an $111,800 loss as of June 10.
“The year’s not over. Right now our prediction is that there could be a $10,000 or $12,000 loss,” Cohen said.
Treasurer/Collector Laurel Placzek informed Letellier that the budgets are created based upon the projected revenues and that the golf course budget was adjusted but she was not sure if it would cover the entire loss. If the shortfall could not be covered by the end of the fiscal year, the loss would either be added to the tax levy or settled with free cash, depending on what action the council chose to take.
Cohen mentioned that many people from town have complimented the quality of the course. “Things are looking good,” he said.
“I would respectively disagree that the golf course is doing well. The greens fees are down $170,000 from last year. The cart rentals are down $50,000 from last year. The pro shop is down $50,000 from last year,” Letellier responded. She noted that the numerous golf shirts were liquidated, despite the fact that they don’t go “stale.”
Cohen told Reminder Publications on July 15 that the final numbers were not in for fiscal year 2014, which closed on June 30.
“I imagine we [ended] with a deficit,” he said, despite the fact that last month was $30,000 more profitable than June 2013.
“Come one, come all – I’d be glad to meet with all of them [the councilors]. They can create any committee they want. The books are public. We’re not being secretive,” Cohen said.
“We are still operating efficiently. My goal is to promote quality golfing at reasonable rates,” he added.
The mayor stated that the golf course’s budget had been “reduced dramatically” over the past few years due to decreased use as a result of the economy and weather.
He emphasized the fact that the course has remained open when others have closed and the town’s bonding rating was recently increased to AA+.