Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Editorial: KVOA News interviews Mike Zinkin

Mike Zinkin was recently interviewed by Channel 4 News Investigator, Matthew Schwartz, regarding the financial status of the Oro Valley Community and Recreation Center. This is a link to a video of the interview.

The mayor and interim town manager both opted out of being interviewed for the segment. The mayor supplied a written statement instead which we have published below followed by Zinkin’s response:

Mayor Hiremath’s Statement
“The Oro Valley Community Center, which includes a fitness center, pools, classes, tennis and golf, continues to grow in popularity. Membership is rising, and daily use is higher year-over-year. In fact, the Town is installing a traffic signal this year to safely facilitate the increasing flow of traffic in and out of the property.

When we look specifically at Troon operations, which includes golf, tennis and food and beverage, we are pleased to see that the Town is trending in a positive direction. Our net losses compared to last year are trending lower, while our dedicated sales tax revenue is trending higher. Last year’s overall net operating loss for Troon operations was $2.6 million, with $2 million in revenue generated from the dedicated half-cent sales tax. This year—our second year of ownership—that operating loss dropped to $2 million, and the sales tax revenue increased to $2.2 million.

In May, we will begin our third year of ownership, and we are on trend for our five-year plan. Council is committed to evaluating and assessing ALL town facilities and operations. The Town does not plan on selling the golf courses; rather, we are currently in the RFP process for a consultant to discuss land use and turf reduction options so that we can carefully consider any and all opportunities to reduce costs while still providing quality amenities to our residents and visitors.”

The reporter supplied a copy of Hiremath’s statement to Zinkin who then sent the following reply to the reporter:

Mike Zinkin’s Response
“The Mayor is wrong.

First of all the fact that the Town's sales tax is trending above last year is not relevant to Troon's losses. If you go to the April 6, 2016 Council Meeting agenda, you can see the Financials through January 2016.

  • In December 2015, Troon's losses were $135,714. In December 2016 the losses were $171,848. 
  • In January 2016, the losses were $62,709. In January 2017, the losses were $198,253. 
  • The food and beverage portion of Troon showed losses of $4,681 in January 2015. In January 2016 the losses were $13,385.
This is hardly trending in a positive direction.

It is true that the Fitness portion might be stable or growing. I never said otherwise. However, golf membership is dropping and the losses are increasing. (All of these numbers can be found on the Town's website.)

If the trend for the 5-year plan is to continue to lose money, then they are on target. I don't think anybody mentioned selling the golf courses. To do so would require a vote of the People, not the Council.

I failed to mention to you that I know about an individual that has had a meeting with the Interim Town Manager, Finance Director, and Parks and Rec. Director to lease the food and beverage portion of the property. There has been no feedback from the Town.

The RFP mentioned is for a study of land use, such as turf reduction...there is no contracted option to GIVE UP GOLF.”
Editor’s Comments
By claiming to be “unavailable for comment” and releasing a prepared statement instead, both Mayor Hiremath and Interim Town Manager, Danny Sharp, dodged answering any tough questions on camera.

Also, it was unfair for the reporter to only interview a couple of people who have golf memberships. A more balanced report would have included interviews with two or three OV residents who are not members and are not benefiting from the Community Center acquisition.

More information on the mayor’s comment regarding the installation of a traffic signal at the entrance to the Community Center can be found here.

Watch the KVOA interview here.