Monday, May 1, 2017

Editorial: You Don’t Say!

During the April 19th Town Council Meeting, residents were allowed to address the council regarding the proposed $17 million dollar Naranja Park Bond.

One resident stated that if they hadn’t made the poor decision to purchase the El Con Golf Courses and Community Center, we would have the money to fund the Naranja Park ball fields without the necessity of a $17 million bond and secondary property tax.

Another resident made three points in his speech. (1) the town needs to straighten out the financial problems with the golf courses first before looking for any more money from the citizens to fund ball fields, (2) the council shouldn’t allow one financial mistake to add to another, and (3) we the taxpayers shouldn’t have to bear the burden for a limited number of users.

Councilmember Solomon Presents “Alternate Facts”
Clearly upset that some residents had the insight to connect the financial problems of the Community Center and Golf Courses to the current need for a secondary property tax to fund ball fields, Councilmember Steve Solomon launched into a 4-minute lecture attempting to discredit the naysayers and convince the audience that the Community Center is thriving. Below is a sample of his comments that evening.

Solomon said: “The community center is thriving. It is not failing.”

What he didn’t say: The Community and Recreation Center Fund (CRC Fund) is currently $477,986 in the RED. In addition, as of June 30, 2017, the Town will owe $240,000 from the CRC Fund back to the General Fund to begin repayment of the $1.2 million that the council borrowed from the General Fund in March 2015 to jumpstart the CRC Fund.

The council voted to delay the first payment in Fiscal Year 15/16 until FY 16/17 which is why they now owe two payments of $120,000 ($240,000) back to the General Fund. Add this $240,000 to the $477,986 deficit, and the CRC Fund is now $717,986 in the RED. Solomon also didn’t tell you that golf memberships are still nowhere near Troon’s desired 318 members.

Solomon said: “The expenditures for the community center, particularly this year, are down and our revenues are up. Now that’s the kind of trend that you want and it’s been trending that way for awhile now.”

What he didn’t say: Not only is the Community Center Fund $477,986 in the red, but this figure takes into consideration that there was $1.4 million in sales tax revenues dedicated to the CRC Fund in this fiscal year.

Solomon said: “As mentioned, the golf and community center revenues and the dedicated half cent sales tax for this year will cover all of it’s costs. It’s not using any other town funds. It’s not taking money from any other town project or town source.”

What he didn’t say: As reported on LOVE on April 10th in the article “Smoke, Mirrors, and Lower Math,” during the April 5th Town Council meeting, the mayor asked the finance director how much money the Community Center was taking from the General Fund. The answer was that the Community Center was consuming 6% of the adopted budget of $117,368,903. However, with the dedicated sales tax revenue source, the actual effect was 1.6%.

Translated into dollar figures, 1.6% of $117 million is $1.8 million. This is the first time that the mayor and finance director admitted that the half-cent sales tax increase is not covering Community Center expenses. To compensate for this shortfall, they have siphoned almost an additional $2 million out of the General Fund. Therefore, Solomon’s assertion that the Community Center is “not using any other town funds” is demonstrably false.

Remember that NO MONIES other than the .5% sales tax revenues were to be utilized for the Community Center. They now admit that they have spent $1.8 million above and beyond the sales tax revenues.

Solomon said: “The facts clearly show that the claims of the failing golf course and that we can’t afford new playing fields are completely false. The true financial numbers are on our website.“

What he didn’t say: He didn’t tell you what the “true financial numbers” were.

Drum Roll Please -- The True Financial Numbers

  • In February 2016, Troon (golf, food, beverage, tennis) lost $61,294.
  • In February 2017, Troon lost $110,264.
  • Troon’s losses were $48,970 HIGHER in February 2017 than in February 2016.

  • Food and beverage was forecasted to make $12,354 in February 2017 but made only $5,553.
  • The restaurant has lost $90,501 so far this fiscal year.
  • The forecast was to lose only $11,842.

  • Troon’s initial forecast for losses in FY 16/17 was $1,534,505.
  • They recently had to up that forecast to $2,038,334.
  • There has not been one month this fiscal year where their losses have been under $100,000.
  • If this trend continues, the $2,038,334 figure will have to be revised again.