Monday, June 19, 2017

The Watchdog Report: By Mike Zinkin

Despite tourist and snowbird season, losses continue at the Oro Valley Golf and Community Center

The numbers are in for April 2017 and continue to reveal the irresponsible investment in the Golf and Community Center. Keep in mind that April is one of the months that the Town looks forward to because it is in the heart of the tourist and snowbird season.

So far this fiscal year (July 2016 through April 2017) the Town's expenditures (fitness, recreation programs, swim) exceeded its revenues by $94,006. As noted in prior months, this loss is tolerable because this is the Community Center portion of the investment.

However, Troon's losses (food, beverage, golf) for the same period were $1,954,005. Together these losses total $2,048,011. The losses were offset by the sales tax revenues of $1,811,207.

Turning a $2800 surplus into a $285,000 deficit in just one month
Through April 2017, the Community and Recreation Center Fund (CRF) is $284,583 in the red. (This fund was started by taking $1.2 million from the General Fund Contingency). The March financials indicated that the CRF was forecasted to end the fiscal year with a positive balance of $2,834. However, this was updated in April to show that the CRF will now end the fiscal year $284,971 in the red. If this forecast comes to fruition, once again the Town Council will be forced to delay the promised yearly $120,000 payback to the General Fund Contingency.

Troon’s crystal ball continues to malfunction
Troon forecasted golf losses to be $63,685 for April 2017, but the actual losses were $144,954. That’s a $81,269 miscalculation. Troon's original forecast to lose $1,534,505 in FY 16/17 has recently been updated to $2,346,563. This is a miscalculation of $812,058, or 44%.

In the new FY 17/18 budget, Troon forecasts losses of $1,822,941 but history tells us it will be over $2,000,000 again.

The food and beverage portion, (primarily the Overlook Restaurant) was forecasted to make $29,241. The actual number came in at a loss of $6,714. So far this fiscal year, The Overlook Restaurant has lost $100,420. April brings the end to the high season. What can we expect in May and June as the fiscal year comes to a close?

It’s about fiscal responsibility
The current Council is asking the citizens to approve a Secondary Property Tax for Naranja Park improvements. Consider how many improvements could be accomplished at Naranja Park without the burden of an additional property tax if the Town wasn’t spending $2,000,000 per year to cover golf and restaurant losses at the Community Center.

Didn’t I already pay for this?
One might believe, since it is called a Community Center, that it would be available to the residents at no cost. Isn’t the community already paying for it through the additional half cent sales tax to support it? One might think that a citizen could use the driving range and golf practice facilities, or even swim in one of the two pools or play tennis as a benefit of being a citizen of Oro Valley. However, the only way a citizen can utilize any amenity at the Community Center is to pay for it.

Again, this raises the question: Is it a center for the community or is it a private club being subsidized by the Citizens of Oro Valley?

Mike Zinkin has a Bachelor’s degree in history and government from the University of Arizona and a Master’s degree in Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education from California State University, Northridge. He was a commissioned ensign in the United States Navy Reserve in 1969. He worked as an Air Traffic Controller for 30 years. He and his wife moved to Oro Valley after retiring in 1998. Mike served on the Oro Valley Development Review Board from 2005-2009, the Board of Adjustment from 2011-2012, and the Town Council from 2012-2016. During his time on council, he was named as one of 23 Leadership Fellows for the National League of Cities University, he was a member of the National League of Cities Steering Committee for Community and Economic Development, and a member of the Arizona League of Cities Budget and Economic Development Committee.