Monday, January 23, 2017

Guest View ~ Mike Zinkin: “Groundhog Day” Sequel in Oro Valley

At least the original was funny…
Remember how Bill Murray was stuck in a time-loop and kept reliving the same awful day over and over in the movie, “Groundhog Day?” That pretty much sums up how I feel every time I review the latest Community Center golf financials. The financials are finally posted for October and November 2016, and no one should be surprised to find that it’s just more of the same.

More golf losses in October AND Community and Recreation Fund is broke
In October, Troon forecasted golf losses of $220,177, but actually lost $261,048. The food and beverage area (primarily the Overlook) lost $16,702. What’s important to note is that in the narrative that Stacey Lemos (the Town’s Finance Director) provides, the Community and Recreation Fund (CRF) was estimating a year-end balance of negative $127,508.

This is the first written acknowledgement that there will be a negative balance in the fund specifically set up to pay the Community and Recreation Center expenses. This fund was initiated by withdrawing $1.2 million from the General Fund Contingency with a promise to pay it back at $120,000 per year for ten years.

November Golf Losses: The $200,000 Error
Now let's look at November 2016. With the last documentation, golf had lost $760,069 through September (25% of the fiscal year). Now with 41.7% of the fiscal year completed, golf losses total $1,251,583. What is significant about this number is that Troon’s estimate for losses for the entire year is $1,534,505.

Additionally, Troon estimated that golf losses for November would be only $948. It actually lost $230,466...a mere $229,518 miscalculation! The food and beverage portion was forecasted to make $15,827, but lost $11,656...another huge miscalculation. In fact, the food and beverage investment has now lost $77,259 in the first five months of FY 2016/17. I would be interested to know the rationale behind the chief estimator’s calculations. And why doesn’t the Town Council hold Troon accountable for these continuous inaccurate numbers?

CRF year-end balance forecast continues to deteriorate
Ms. Lemos updated her prediction in November to state that the CRF is now forecasted to end the fiscal year $157,409 in the red. I submit that Ms. Lemos is being very optimistic since the CRF ended November $429,902 in the red.

Ms. Lemos states that the Town is still planning to reimburse the General Fund Contingency the $120,000 per year obligated payment. (Remember that the council voted to postpone last year’s $120,000 “obligation.”)

Will ADA compliance be delayed?
The question remains, where is the above $120,000 going to come from? The following statement in the report might answer that question:

“Capital outlay is projected to come in under budget at $440,000 or 83.6%. This is due primarily to the timing of the ADA improvements budgeted at the Community Center. Staff is awaiting completion of the Town-wide ADA transition study before beginning construction on these improvements.” Does this mean that the promise to upgrade the facility to be ADA compliant will be delayed for another year?

Troon updates golf year-end forecast
Troon has updated their forecast for FY 2016/17 golf losses from the original $1,534,505 to $2,122,216. This $587,711 update comes just a mere five months after the start of the fiscal year. To make this forecast a reality, golf can lose only an average of $124,376 a month. With losses of over $230,000 per month in October and November, this doesn’t seem likely.

Opportunity Lost
The CRF shows that there has been $818,680 in sales tax revenues in the first five months of the fiscal year. While the good news is that this is above the forecast, imagine what the Town could do with that money in lieu of pouring it down the El Con swamp? We could completely restore the Proctor-Lieber house at Steam Pump Ranch, add lighted ball fields at Naranja Park and swing sets at Riverfront Park to name just a few worthy investments. Instead, we the taxpayers continue to lose money and we will continue to do so until the Council takes off their Lopez-colored glasses.

Although there were no consequences for the bad decisions made by the lead character in the 1993 movie, it appears that Oro Valley taxpayers will be suffering the consequences of the El Con blunder for a long time to come.