Jackson Ward 2 Councilman Melvin Priester, Jr. defended shutting down the Grove Park golf course with something that rarely means anything in Jackson: cold, hard numbers. Mr. Priester posted some financial numbers for the two municipal golf courses. It is a rather dismal picture:
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Budget cuts are painful. Right now we're still pouring over things to find out if there are ways to save programs that matter to us. Government isn't designed to turn a profit. At the same time, however, we can't spend money we don't have.JJ is going to post some video about this debate from oyesterday's discussion at the Jackson city Council.
Here's a chart showing the numbers on Jackson's two golf courses so at least you can see what we were looking at. (note: 2016 numbers are what we have spent/earned through Mid August, the 2017 numbers show the amounts in the budget as proposed by the Mayor).
That means that from 2014 to this point in 2016, Jackson has spent $1,036,590 more than it's earned on its two golf courses.
This year alone we've spent $240,729 more on Golf than we've earned. The budget proposed by the Mayor proposed us taking a loss on golf of $149,427. The real number we would likely lose if we keep operating the same way in that area is likely even bigger. The proposed budget for 2017 assumed that we would earn $190,000 on Golf next year ($80,000 from Grove Park and $110,000 from the Sonny Guy course). This year, however, we have only earned $41,589 from both courses combined. Our best recent year was 2014, in which we earned $63,495. Assume we earned $100,000 in 2017 (approx. 2.5 times what we have earned at this point this year from golf). If we spent as proposed on golf next year, we would have an operational shortfall of $239,427.
If we can find a way to keep both golf courses open, that would be amazing and we're going to keep working on that front. Americorps helps feed the poor and gives young people a critical chance to afford college. A budget without Americorps is not a balanced budget. A budget that relies on things like furloughs is not balanced. We've got systemic financial problems in this city and a big cause of that is the fact that we are rife with programs that spend far more than they earn. Cities do that. We subsidize recreation and education and all sorts of things to have a better quality of life. But there have to be limits and there has to balance. Jackson is in the state it's in because there is no balance. Getting back to true financial balance is going to hurt but we will get better if we understand the ultimate goal is to have a truly functional city.