Commissioners Present: Rob Harris (Chair), Jim Ehrhart (Vice Chair), Cindy Bingham, Anne O'Connell, Ed Pavlu, Marc Fontaine, Jeff Odell.
Others Present: Mark O'Brien (Director of Golf Operations), Steve Mann (Golf Course Superintendent), Judy McCarthy (Women’s 18-Hole Assn.), Jim O’Leary (FinCom), Ralph MacDonald, Alan Godfried, Judy Miller, Ed Lewis, Orin Segall, John Galante, Tom Hughes, and Karney Ovian.
Call to Order: Rob Harris called the meeting to order at 3:00 p.m.
Association Reports and Public Comment:
Approval of minutes:
Cindy Bingham made a motion, seconded by Jim Ehrhart, to approve the minutes of the November 12, 2013 Golf Commission meeting as written. Motion approved 7-0-0.
2014 Fee Schedule Discussion:
- Rob Harris reported that the balance in the Golf Receipts Reserved for Appropriation Account (GRRAA) was approximately $200,000 higher than originally reported. With this information, at the November Town Meeting, it was decided to pay $200,000 from the GRRAA and borrow $200,000 to complete the course improvement project that was on the warrant. The original plan called for borrowing the entire $400,000.
- Rob Harris distributed a document that showed current projections and an alternate plan that showed projections with an increase in the Resident “Early” AFP fee from the current fee of $850 to a fee of $1,000. Rob projects that this increased fee will allow the golf operation to breakeven through 2020 and also maintain a higher balance in the GRRAA. His plan would keep all other AFP fees the same for the current year.
- Jeff Odell thought that this resident rate was too close to the non-resident rate of the surrounding town courses.
- Cindy Bingham asked what this projected resident rate would be in 2020. Rob Harris replied that the projections all along have assumed a 1.5% increase in all revenue categories.
- Ed Pavlu asked how many AFPs there were at Cranberry Valley. Rob Harris responded that there were 1,064.
- Cindy Bingham reminded the Commission that the “directive” from the Selectmen was to close the deficit gap, not necessarily breakeven.
- Cindy Bingham distributed a proposal that called for an $800 resident AFP rate for unlimited play and a $700 resident AFP rate for back 9 only play, unlimited. In addition, this proposal calls for a $10 assessment every time a player tees off the 1st tee prior to 9:00 a.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from May 1 thru Columbus Day, and everyday in July and August.
- Ed Lewis reiterated Cindy Bingham’s previous comment about the Selectmen’s “directive”.
- Marc Fontaine then asked if the Commission thinks it is ok for the Town to subsidize golf.
- Ed Lewis remarked that the golf course provides many other benefits to the Town, one being that the golf management’s reduction in nitrogen loading on the golf course over the last several years is saving the Town approximately $5,000,000 in waste water mitigation costs.
- Ralph MacDonald commented that the Town subsidizes many other recreational activities.
- Marc Fontaine said that he is worried that the golf course will have problems at future Town Meetings with the non-golfers if we continue to show deficits.
- Rob Harris said that it is not the Commission’s job to decide whether golf should be subsidized, but rather the Selectmen’s responsibility. He believes that the Golf Commission should offer a breakeven proposal at minimum if it is feasible.
- Alan Godfried commented on previous assertions that the increased fee would create a “class” system, saying that the current tired rate structure is a “class” system.
- Jeff Odell said we should look again into the proposal from Cindy Bingham and Anne O’Connell from the last meeting which created anew AFP rate categories for: 1st Time New Non-Residents ($1,200); Non-Resident Twilight ($599); Resident Collegiate ($350); and Non-resident Collegiate ($500).
- Someone commented that we would lose the character of being an AFP by adding a per play surcharge.
- Ralph MacDonald commented that slow play is causing a loss of revenue.
- Judy Miller said that we should attach a “turtle” status to repeat slow play offenders. She also said, in response to those that have said many of the “Early” players want a bigger gap between their rate and the other rates so that there will be fewer people to compete for early tee times, that she is aware of many AFPs do not want a wider divide between the “Early” fee and the “Morning” fee.
- Cindy Bingham agreed with the above comment saying that we are not listening to those that don’t want to play more golf.
- Rob Harris stated that people will join if there is a value.
- Jeff Odell said he is hopeful that our increased marketing will generate more revenues. Mark O’Brien said that the marketing is necessary just to maintain our market share, and the other courses have ramped up their marketing efforts as well.
- John Galante asked how many prime times go unfilled. He then said we should lower rates if times are going unfilled. Mark O’Brien responded that we tried a strategy of lower rates two years ago and that it resulted in lower revenues. He also stated that we fill about 85% to 90% of our prime tee times.
- Jeff Odell made a motion to adopt the Non-Resident Twilight AFP rate of $599 (same restrictions as resident Twilight), the $350 Resident Collegiate AFP rate (ages 19-25), and the Non-Resident Collegiate AFP rate (ages 19-25), and also increase the discounted hotel rate from $40 to $45. The motion was seconded by Cindy Bingham.
- Cindy Bingham amended the motion to say that the Collegiate rate players could play after 12:00 noon if they were not with an adult. Jeff Odell seconded the motion. The motion to amend was approved 4 in favor, 3 against. The amended motion was then voted on and approved 5 in favor, 2 against (Rob Harris and Marc Fontaine against).
- Rob Harris made a motion to keep all AFP rates the same except for the Resident “Early” AFP rate. Rates of $850, $900, $950, and $1,000 for the Resident “Early” AFP rate will be presented to the Selectmen with spreadsheets showing the projected financial effect of each rate and let them decide. Jim Ehrhart seconded the motion. The motion was approve 7 in favor, 0 against.
· Jim Ehrhart reported that he, Charlie Sumner and Mark O’Brien met with Bill Marsh regarding the fence that runs behind #4 and #5 Port. Apparently, portions of the fence are on Marsh’s property. He would like to remove the fence at his cost and it was agreed.
· Rob Harris said that the budget is due before Christmas. Mark O’Brien and Rob Harris will have an initial meeting with Charlie Sumner and Lisa Souve on the budget in early January. The budget will be discussed at the next Golf Commission meeting prior to any budget meetings with the Selectmen or the FinCom.
· Anne O’Connell asked about the restaurant bids. Cindy Bingham reported that Ardeo’s was the only bidder and was awarded the contract.
The next meeting will be held on January 14, 2014 at 4:00 p.m.
A motion to adjourn was made by Cindy Bingham, seconded by Jim Ehrhart, passed 7-0-0. meeting adjourned at 4:31 p.m.
Mark O’Brien, Director of Operations