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Orangetown Battle Over Broadacres Continues

Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart's proposed 2013 budget includes the closure of Broadacres Golf Club.

The battle over Broadacres Golf Course continues to play a key role in discussions of the 2013 Orangetown budget.

Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart sparked a heated debate of the fate of the course when he suggested its closure earlier this year and he included closing it as part of his proposed budget for 2013. 

The primary stated reason is an estimated average loss of $300,000 per year. 

Joe Wrafter, who has managed the course for eight years, questioned those numbers when he spoke at the Orangetown Town Board's workshop Tuesday night. 

"Revenue increased from 2005 to 2010 by 40 percent and we ended up at this phantom number of $312,000 (lost for 2011)," Wrafter said. "I'd like to see the support of those number and an explanation of what expenses escalated at a significant amount to give us these astronomical losses year after year."

Wrafter cited numbers in recent newspaper stories, but Stewart said he should stick to the audited records of the town.

"The numbers in the audited books of the town, I've shared with you and the pubic in the past," Stewart said. "That's where you need to get your numbers, not from the newspaper, where sometimes there are problems.

"There is no question whether there is a deficit or not and no question to the quality of the management of the course and the investment of people like yourself in making it a golf course people want to go to, but the numbers are what they are."

Wrafter pointed out that in better times for the golf courses in Orangetown, they were supportive of the town.

"It seems unfair to me that when golf courses run a deficit now, the town forgets what happened in the past."

Members of the golf committee including Larry Costello questioned the practicality of closing the golf course, pointing out that at least in the short term, the savings would be limited. The town would still have expenses related to the course even if it closed, though they would be reduced.

Councilman Tom Diviny continued to argue that the only way closing Broadacres makes sense is if the current full-time employees there are laid off rather than moved elsewhere in the Parks and Recreation Department.

"If you're going to close the golf course, you have to get rid of the employees to have real savings. I don't think anybody can dispute that."

He also questioned some of the numbers in Stewart's proposed budget, specifically projected 25 percent increase in business at Blue Hill Golf Course if Broadacres is closed.

"You are not going to get a 25 percent increase at Blue Hill from closing Broadacres," Diviny said. "The prime times at Blue Hill are all booked. The people who play Broadacres are going to go somewhere else. You might get 10 percent."

"That's one of the numbers that is really guesswork," Stewart said.

Councilman Paul Valentine suggested that Stewart gauge CSEA reaction to potentially laying off full-time employees when closing Broadacres.

"We should know the answer tomorrow," Diviny said. "We've been dealing with this since April."

Stewart said he is concerned with making sure that the town doesn't face extra complications if it lays those employees off, but the option is on the table.

Councilman Denis Troy said the discussion of the course's value has to go beyond just lines in the budget.

"One thing that still has to be taken into consideration is the value of the asset itself as a golf course," Troy said. "It's not as valuable as it was 10 or 15 years ago when golf was really hot, but it's still an asset. If you let it grow over, you don't have that asset any more."

"It's also an asset to the taxpayers and general public of the town," Wrafter said. "It's a tremendous asset to those people. We should never lose sight of that. It's not just dollars and cents, but human beings."

Valentine and other members of the board also called for ongoing exploration into finding a private entity to take over the course. 

Other Budget Issues

Troy questioned if the board was getting too bogged down in one of many budget issues.

"We're in the hole four to six million and we're arguing about $300,000," Troy said. "What else are we going to talk about on the budget tonight?"

Stewart asked for suggestions. Valentine said he and other members of the council are putting together ideas for the budget, but no councilmen were ready to make any suggestions Tuesday night.

"We're trying to come up with proposals," Diviny said. "Some of these are ideas we think are great, but they may not be great once we have input from the department heads." 

Stewart also announced Tuesday night that he has chosen the Jeff Vencik of Haverstraw as the town's new finance director. 

Mike October 03, 2012 at 11:23 PM
hold on a second here. There is one set up numbers right? Is Wrafter accusing the Supervisor or Finance Department of incompetence or wrong doing? Or does Wrafter simply have it wrong? I mean this should not be this complicated. I agree with Brenda above- if the town leadership cannot figure out this relatively small portion of the budget why should we have confidence they can tackle the big issues. Its bordering on the ridiculous already.
Neill October 04, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Ryan, what have you added to what I said that I didn't say already? I know he was questioning the town's numbers and I didn't say he doesn't understand his own business. I asked where are HIS books with HIS numbers since he has been running the place for the past 8 years. He quotes other numbers in the newspapers - are those HIS numbers? If not then where are HIS numbers? If Mr. Wrafter can't answer my comment himself then why not leave my comment unanswered?
Terry October 04, 2012 at 01:52 AM
I have an idea! Lets close the golf course , lay off the workers and use the savings from that and hire Andy's confidentIal assistant...(whats her name? ..you know Tom Kleiners old assistant..)..to a full time position . I'm beginning to wonder who really is the supervisor of this town...andy stewart or his CONFIDENTIAL ASSISANT.? Andy, if you close the golf course what are you planning on doing with the land? Or should we be asking your confidential assisant? And I agree with Mr. Troy...the hiring of the finance director should have been brought before the board. ..I thought you were looking for someone with a CPA? Correct me if im wrong...maybe he has one.
Maureen October 04, 2012 at 02:57 AM
Terry You have an idea? Close the golf course - that's Andy's idea. Lay off the workers - that's Diviny's idea. What's her name? - you have no idea? "Old" assistant? - do you mean "former"? If your idea is that the 'former' assistant runs the town why ask Andy what he is going to do with the land? Troy knew resumes were in - did he ask the 'former' assistant to run him copies? "Correct me if I'm wrong" - maybe I have but maybe one can't?
elizabeth October 08, 2012 at 11:28 AM
There is so much FAT in the proposed budget; what with unrealistic salaries, and superfluous positions! I recently read in the Journal News, that Andy Stewart called his budget proposal, " bare bones," how absurd! We need to demand that they stay withing the 2% tax cap, and stop "pulling the wool over everyone's eyes!" Public hearing on overriding the tax cap on Nov. 7th!

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