Commissioners Present: Anne O’Connell, Andrea Johnson, Carl Blanchard, John Kissida, Wyn Morton, Jeff Odell, David Valcourt
Director of Operations, Captains Mark O’Brien
Captains Golf Superintendent, Peter Ervin
Others Present: Brewster Town Administrator Peter Lombardi, Asst Town Administrator Donna Kalinick, David Whitney, Jerri Carlin, Jackie Ferraguto, Paige Ferraguto, Rob Harris, Bill O’Brien.
THIS MEETING WAS TAPED AND AVAILABLE IN TOWN ARCHIVES.
Call to order issued by Chairperson Anne O’Connell at 4:00pm.
Special Invitational Discussion. Brewster Town Administrator, Peter Lombardi., was invited to attend this Golf Commission meeting in order to share his overview perspective of the financial way ahead and relationship between Captains and the Town. Specifically, he was asked to provide his initial thoughts concerning the necessary conditions and potential future decision to designate Captains as an enterprise account of the Town. Secondly, he was asked to provide an update on status of the Town’s solar project.
Donna Kalinick, Asst Town Administrator, provided the historical context of how the Captains Golf course had transitioned in May 2017 from designation as a general fund account to its current status as a special revenue account. She also discussed how the Town FY18 budget shifted designated “indirect costs” from the Town general fund to the golf course budget and included all indirect costs minus property liability insurance in the FY20 budget. She indicated that the decision for the future regarding whether or not the Captains account should become an enterprise account was a long-term decision.
Peter Lombardi provided his perspective on the decision factors regarding a transition to an enterprise account stating that first and foremost that the Captains must remain sustainable for the long term. He reminded that the reserve fund in an enterprise account is considered free cash and expenditures from this account must be approved through Town meeting. In the Town’s view the Captains golf account is a more complex account than the water department and may require a longer period to transition to an enterprise account.
Donna Kalinick described the two types of indirect budget costs; benefit side for individual employees and the other indirect cost is payback to other Town Departments for services rendered. She indicated that the Town was working to ensure a consistent standard and fair approach to assessing indirect costs and promoting cooperative support among Town Departments.
Jeff Odell questioned the DOR directive for a 20% of budget reserve. Peter Lombardi stated this percentage was only a placeholder, however, we “should develop a plan for the reserve and stick to it”. Discussion clarified that this plan should address both the targeted reserve amount as well as the velocity of achieving it.
Carl Blanchard asked if the future apportionment of indirect costs might possibly consider the past monies that the Captains has provided to the Town’s general fund. A short discussion followed with consensus we should focus on the future and look for a consistent and equitable plan with Town departments while continuing to look for opportunities to support each other.
Anne O’Connell stated that the key issue is to “understand where we are now and where we might become” in the context of transitioning to an enterprise fund. Peter Lombardi responded that what we should do in order to become an enterprise fund is to look out on the horizon, have a strategic plan, and be comfortable going forward with it. We must have a clear sense of the Captains financial future before becoming an enterprise fund.
Other discussions with the Town Administrator and his assistant included:
Unfunded Liability Burden. Mark O’Brien asked if the Town’s unfunded liability burden would be passed on to the golf course. Donna Kalinick indicated that a percentage of the Town’s cost would be passed to Captains with the amount to be determined during the Town’s budget discussions.
Capital Planning. Peter Lombardi briefly discussed the Town’s 5 Year Plan sharing that the Town Planning Board has been re-energized and is working to complete the Town’s 5 Year Plan over the next 4-5 months. He indicated that given the complexity of the golf course and in light of the enterprise fund discussions that Captains should develop a 10 Year Capital Plan to better inform decisions and maintain a clear financial forecast.
Brewster Solar Projects. Peter Lombardi provided an update on solar project. He indicated that Brewster’s negotiations with GE/Con-Ed/Eversource were all on track. Town Select Board is currently holding policy discussions for how solar revenues should be distributed and administrative fees/property taxes assessed.
No Public Comment
Transition to Normal Agenda
Wyn reported that there was one item submitted by Susan Eifert regarding bird boxes on #8 starboard course. Pete Ervin responded that these are at least 30 years old and many are not positioned properly. Peter will relook the bird house issue as the watershed permit and Audubon certificate are resubmitted.
Peter Ervin recognized the loss of two former Captains employees who recently passed. Mr Red Watson , a former grounds crew member, and Mr Charlie Donovan who worked in the Pro Shop. Condolences were extended for both the Watson and Donovan families for their tragic losses.
Peter discussed procurement of capital items to include a truck w/plow package, bedknife grinder, and HVAC renovation that had been approved at the Spring 2019 Town Meeting. Work to recondition the irrigation well should begin in December, as this project was also previously approved at Town meeting. Peter Ervin will coordinate with Lisa, Town Treasurer/collector’s office, for funding.
Mark O’Brien added that funds for repairing the trim work vicinity of the clubhouse and replacing the fire alarm system in the clubhouse had been approved and work planned to complete project this Fall.
Peter shared his planned schedule for Fall aeration of fairways and tee boxes, bulk fertilization, and greens aeration following completion of the New England Intercollegiate tournament.
Mark O’Brien reported that all financial categories for the first two months of the new FY are looking strong. Driving range revenues are also up with increased usage. Budget expenses are down significantly from last year with less money spent on part-time hours costs. The approved rate increases for greens fees have also improved financials. There have been no increased cart use fees as this is the last year of the current 5 year lease. There have been about 40 Off-season memberships so far, similar to what was seen last year. 9 hole play continues to be popular, particularly with the elimination of early tee times for back 9 morning play. Mark believes that this policy provides golfers more flexibility and has been a winner.
The new cart lease discussion was led by Mark O’Brien. Current vendor’s 5 year cart proposal for new “status quo” carts would increase cost @ 10,000 annually. This could be readily offset by raising cart fees by $2 as cart rentals average about 35-40,000 per season. The golf commission discussion included other bells and whistles for new carts to include GPS, cart management systems, and other tech advances. Take-away was that these were quite expensive and we should keep options open to include upgrading new carts after 2 years. Discussion will continue into next meeting as a second bid is expected from another vendor.
Future Agenda Items
Next commission meeting on 8 October 2019 agenda to include the following topics:
Recycling Initiative at Captains
Strategic Plan. It is time to reframe what we want to focus on in our strategic planning efforts after receiving the Town Administrator’s thoughts today.
10 Year Capital Improvement Plan
Cart Lease discussion continued
Summer maintenance plan strategy in order to enable balance between pleasing the public and efficiently using Superintendent’s maintenance staff to set the course for the new season.
Review and Approve August Minutes.
Motion to approve by Carl, Wyn seconded, and approved unanimously by commission.
Topics not Anticipated.
Captains Friends did report that the practice net area was nearing completion and that everyone appreciated the patience to see this project completed.
Motion to Adjourn at 5:45pm by Anne O’Connell; seconded by Andrea and unanimously approved by the commission.