With budget talks beginning at Thursday's Corry City Council planning session, Councilman Bill Roche, director of finance, gave a general fund and payroll report to Council members to look over, and while income is exceeding expenses, overall, one of the biggest concerns is the financial standing of the North Hills Municipal Golf Course.
"We know it's been a tough year up there," Corry City Manager Jason Biondi said. "The weather was not our friend at the beginning of the season."
Biondi continued to say the last month has brought in revenue, but the golf course's overall financials are still down.
Two grants, totaling $31,609, were received in 2018 for updating the golf course irrigation system. The money was not spent until this year showing an added expense to this year's budget.
One grant was part of a Community Asset grant from Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority, received in November for $21,405. The second grant was received in October from the Corry Community Foundation for $10,203.
To help offset the drop in revenue, city officials have tried to adjust expenses.
"We've made some changes, different specials, adjusted staffing levels and continue to adjust staff levels, which is our basic expense areas," Biondi said.
During the time frame of January to July 18 in 2018, the golf course had an income of 260,354.15. Compared with the same period for this year, the golf course had an income of 217,490.40.
Comparing activity between those dates for both years, season passes sales were down by $26,483.25.
Greens fees are down $2,325.91 compared with last year. Cart rentals are down $2,163.61.
Unlimited cart passes are up $2,108.57 compared with 2018.
The golf course lost about $13,000 in revenue by eliminating a private cart program that was dissolved for the 2019 season.
Revenue from alcohol sales is up nearly $3,000 from 2018, but food and concession sales are down about $2,000.
"We're going to have to come up with a different plan for the golf course," Roche said.
While the golf course income is showing it is in red for the year, that doesn't mean the checking accounts for the golf course are in the red, Biondi said.
"Currently, as of today, we have a little over $104,000 in the checking account," Biondi said.
Corry Mayor Dave Mitchell brought up the possibility of reinstating a golf commission by recruiting community members that have background in financials that can help get the golf course back on track.
The golf commission oversaw golf course operations and was dissolved in 2016 when the city of Corry took back ownership of it from the Corry Municipal Authority.
"We've got to come to grips with the fact that the government doesn't run these things really well —parks, recreation. I've never seen a government yet that really runs this well with all the other municipal things," Mitchell said.
Mitchell continued to say the topic needs to be revisited more in depth at the end of the golf season when all the final financials are in.
"[North Hills Municipal Golf Course] has paid money into the city for many, many years," Roche said. "For that reason alone, we should help them."
Roche pointed out that since the city water wells are on a property adjacent to the golf course, it cannot be sold.
Bringing in an outside buyer is not an option because it could lead to spraying at the golf course and the use of chemicals that could jeopardize the city's water, Roche said.
No decisions can be made at a planning session. Budget talks are just starting for the city and will continue as the new year comes closer.