NORWALK, Conn. – It’s business as usual, according to Clyde Mount – the Oak Hills Park Authority is concerned about making it through the winter.
Revenues are up at the Oak Hills Park golf course, but so are expenses, members said at Thursday’s OHPA meeting. “Cash is tight every winter. That is very typical for a seasonal business like we have. We really have about 120 to 140 days to make it all work,” said Mount, OHPA chairman, in a follow up email.
The city loaned OHPA $150,000 in March 2013 to get the Authority through that winter. Although it made it through last winter without help, the numbers are not as good this year, Director of Management and Budgets Bob Barron said at the last Board of Estimate and Taxation meeting, according to the meeting’s minutes.
“We always have potential money crunches in the winter. I am confident we will make it through this year as long as we have no other surprises like another boiler going bad, or more roof leaks, like we have fixed in the last few months,” Mount said. “… This is another reason for wanting the school/practice facility; it will really help in the off season with cash.”
Revenues are up $10,000 in the period between June and November when compared to last year, but expenses are also up to the tune of $80,000, Oak Hills Park Executive Director Shelley Guyer said at Thursday’s meeting. That included the boiler replacement at $12,450, he said. Members decided to take the $10,000 that is still left in the Mayor’s Trophy tournament account and transfer it to the operating budget to cover most of that.
It was quiet as members scrutinized the financial ledger, with occasional comments of interpretation.
Members said water expenses have been high. Finance Committee Chairman John McKenna said the credit card fees are higher than expected. While $592,000 had been forecasted in the budget for expenses between July and November, the actual figure was $626,000, a 5.8 percent difference, he said.
The restaurant has been paying its rent on time, Mount said. McKenna said there have been savings due to the low cost of fuel, which should continue. Guyer said labor costs are down $3,000 for the month, because people have been furloughed and the administrative staff reduced.
Ernie Desrochers mentioned that required soil remediation after the 2013 removal oil tanks would be paid for as part of the $1.5 million state grant the authority expects to receive.
Mount said in his followup email that the concern stems from “normal operations and paying attention to our and the city’s observations.”
“Cash balance is lower than last year, and we are much more in tune with the financials, so we are watching it much closer and are keeping everyone up to date, so there are no surprises,” he said. “We had more expenses this year than expected, and that hurts cash. The specials we are running is helping, so hopefully the influx of gift certificates and early renewals will continue.”
McKenna said, in a follow up email, that the numbers are preliminary un-audited financials that are being reviewed by the commission
Guyer said he also had a 2015 budget ready to submit to the city. He is projecting an 8 percent increase in rounds but had toned down the revenue projections in response to criticism from accountant Wally Englert and Barron.
“They are scrutinizing it, and rightfully so, I think they have raised some valid concerns,” McKenna said.
“He is pushing us to make sure we are on track,” Mount said, of Barron.
Guyer said he is projecting $30,000 net revenue next year.
In other OHPA news:
• The Authority heard a presentation from Tom Arbron of Arbron Media Associates, one of two companies vying for a marketing contract with Oak Hills. Arbron, the former Norwalk Historical Society board president, instructed members in social media, while emphasizing that he is a salesman who has a company lined up to assist in things like Twitter analytics. He pointed out to the Authority that Google Maps leads people astray if they search for Oak Hills golf course. The difference is between inputting 165 Fillow St. vs. 1 Charles Marshall Drive, Guyer said.
Marketing Committee Chairman Bill Waters was absent. Arbron was told to come up with a proposal for what could be done with a $20,000 to $30,000 budget.
The other bidder is Hearst media, according to OHPA minutes.
• Guyer reported that sales and cart rentals were down in November, which he attributed to weather. Revenue was actually up $1,000 because the Authority started selling ID cards on Nov. 28, he said. In three days the course raked in $5,100 due to ID cards, he said.
Guyer said there were 34,000 rounds at Oak Hills last year. This year will finish with almost 37,000 rounds, he said.
Update, 6 p.m., clarification of the numbers regarding expenses.