Nov 20, 2014 -Following months of back and forth between the city council and the mayor’s office, councilors have voted to establish a subcommittee that aims to review the business operations of the town’s municipal golf course.
A resolution “to establish an ad-hoc subcommittee of the Agawam City Council to review the operation of and prepare an improvement plan for the Agawam Municipal Golf Course” was passed unanimously Monday, with councilor Cecilia P. Calabrese absent.
Last month, Mayor Richard A. Cohen had proposed the appointment of a councilor to the five-member golf commission, a suggestion the council shot down in favor of the review committee.
Councilors have questioned the course’s management after it operated in a deficit for three years, with an $81,813 deficit in fiscal 2014 ending June 30. But Roberto said the course is averaging a 31 percent profit increase over last year.
Cohen said the course losing money has been a reflection of national trends rather than poor business management. The number of golf rounds played in New England decreased 21 percent from 2013 to 2012, according to the National Golf Foundation.
“If the council feels they can fix the national issue of golf declining and they can fix the Agawam golf course, I hope they can also pass those recommendations onto the rest of the golf courses in the United States,” Cohen said Tuesday.
Still, councilors are looking for answers as to why the course has lost money. The review committee would be comprised of three city councilors, a member of the Agawam Municipal Golf Commission and golf course manager Tony Roberto.
“The Agawam City Council is concerned with the operation/conduct of the Agawam Municipal Golf Course,” the resolution reads, and also states, “…it is in the best interest of the Town of Agawam to review the operation of and prepare an improvement plan for the [golf course].”
The resolution noted that council recently appropriated $300,000 from the town’s general fund to purchase new golf carts and re-pave the course’s parking lot, two investments that have appeared to boost course memberships and revenue, according to Roberto.
The council also voted 7-3 for the appropriation of $113,000 to the golf course that will be used to balance 2014 and 2015 fiscal budgets. Councilors Gina M. Letellier, Donald M. Rheault and Anthony R. Suffriti voted no.
Roberto said he has no qualms with the additional oversight, but hopes council members appointed to the committee will have some understanding of the golf industry, or are golfers themselves.
“There’s no hidden secrets here,” he said. “In a nutshell, all we’re trying to do is exceed our customers’ expectations. And in terms of increasing the bottom line, I don’t know how much more revenue increases we can have. We’re having a fantastic year.”