New Castle News

February 23, 2014

Simple formula explains golf course woes

John K. Manna
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Expenses were up and revenue was down.

That, in a nutshell, is the reason New Castle’s city-owned golf course operated at a deficit last year.

Expenses totaled $241,270 while revenue topped out at $215,873, resulting in a $25,397 deficit, according to a yearend report presented to city council by finance officer Josh Latore. The deficit was approximately $20,000 higher than the previous year.

The financial condition of Sylvan Heights was a topic of discussion by council and Mayor Anthony Mastrangelo at a work session last week. Some council members and the mayor said they wanted to explore the possibility this year of having a private firm manage the course.

Over the last three years expenses for the golf course have increased by nearly $13,400, or 5.9 percent. Revenue for the same period declined by approximately $13,000, or 5.7 percent.

Payroll, the biggest single yearly expense, totaled $112,108 in 2013. In 2011, payroll totaled $100,422.

Other costs, including gasoline, utilities and telephone and cart rental fees, increased by a few thousand dollars since 2011.

On the revenue side, the biggest drop occurred in the number of memberships and fees for storage of carts that are owned by members. In 2011, memberships and storage fees generated $102,818. Last year, it generated $72,130.

Latore said the number of memberships — now called seasonal passes — dropped from 169 in 2010 to 130 last year. He speculated the number may have dropped as a result of increases in the fees for seasonal passes.

However, he noted the number of memberships dropped by only two — to 177 — in 2009, the year a previous rate hike took effect.

Council increased seasonal passes and other fees in November, the first increase in five years. The administration recommended the increases to avoid a budget shortfall this year.

An age breakdown of the membership showed that 60 of last year’s members were 62 and older, Latore said.

He added that last year there were 17 members that qualified for the super senior rate of $200 for the year. In 2012, there were 24 super seniors.

A person who was 80 and older with 15 consecutive years in good standing was eligible for the super senior rate. The super senior designation was eliminated after 2012, but those who had qualified through that year continue to receive the $200 rate.

The rates for other senior citizens are $510 for city residents and $590 for non-residents.

While memberships have dropped, some other sources of revenue have increased.

Register receipts increased from $76,759 in 2011 to $85,059 in 2013. Those receipts represent income from non-members playing individual rounds of golf.

Revenue from golfers renting carts increased from $45,239 in 2011 to $54,560 in 2013.

The city has budgeted for the purchase of 12 additional carts this year as a way to increase revenue and improve the golf course’s financial picture.

(Email: jmanna@ncnewsonline.com)