The Town of Tonawanda’s takeover of concession operations at its two golf courses resulted in a net loss of almost $18,702 for 2012, but officials are confident the operation soon will be in the black.
“Starting next year, we will start showing a profit,” predicted Councilman Joseph H. Emminger, who cited the startup costs involved in the first year of operations for the loss.
The report was discussed Monday in a meeting among local newspaper reporters and Daniel J. Wiles, director of the Youth, Parks & Recreation Department; Councilman Daniel J. Crangle, chairman of the Town Board committee that oversees the department; and Emminger, a member of that committee.
During the meeting, officials confirmed that the town has paid an approximately $125,000 settlement to the state Department of Taxation and Finance for sales taxes it failed to collect and remit on applicable town operations since the 1950s. Wiles said the oversight came to light during the application process to sell alcohol at the golf courses.
The concession report initially was to be presented during a November Town Board meeting but was withheld, in part, because Sheridan Park Golf Course still was open. It closed in mid-December.
In addition, the subject has been an ongoing source of contention between town officials and Michael Vishion of Comfort Concessions & Catering, which held the concessions contract until December 2011, when the Town Board exercised an option to terminate it. Vishion charged that the board’s action was political retribution; a month earlier, he unsuccessfully ran for Crangle’s seat on the Town Board.
“This was not politically driven,” Crangle reiterated during Monday afternoon’s meeting with reporters. “This was about revenue being made for the town.”
Under the contract with Comfort Concessions & Catering, the town received $12,000 in revenues from the golf course concessions in 2011, which was clear profit. Golf courses revenues totaled almost $161,912 in 2012, but that was not enough to put the operation in the black.
Startup and operating costs were incorporated into a 2012 departmental budget that actually was down by approximately $200,000 from 2011, Wiles said. “With less costs, we expanded services,” he said.
According to information provided by the town, the 2012 concession expenses were: $70.197.35 for supplies; $48,460 for 20 to 25 part-time employees; $6,452 for insurance; $13,055.34 to lease concession carts; and $3,113.33 for training and education. That left a balance of $20,633.96.
Meanwhile, the report cites an “investment” of $39,335.92 in equipment, fees and remodeling at the clubhouses at the two courses, leaving the town $18,701.96 in the red.
As for the bottom line, Wiles said: “My business is the business of youth, parks and recreation. When you look at that business, I had a smaller operating budget, and I increased the revenues.”
The Buffalo News emailed a copy of the report to Vishion, who responded.
“Frankly I find this report to be an insult to the intelligence of town residents and taxpayers,” he wrote in an email, saying the loss of almost $20,000 doesn’t account for the loss of $12,000 in “pure profit” no longer being generated from the previous concession contract.
“It does not take a mathematician to quickly come to the conclusion that this move was a disaster for the town based on actual numbers, assuming the rest of the numbers are accurate,” Vishion wrote.