12/08/2005

More thoughts on Management

GFFirefly has a nice piece on today's Tribune article about the labor costs at the golf course. While I have an accounting degree, I haven't used it in a while.

Nevertheless, like my blog-friend Firefly, I pulled it out, dusted it off and tried to make sense of the numbers printed by the Tribune. Whether it's the fault of the reporter or the City, I have concluded that sense cannot be made from the numbers provided. There just is not enough information.

But I have some (hopefully cogent) observations:

First, the article provides yet another glaring example of absolute mismanagement in our City Government. Patty Reardon (f/k/a Gumenburg, wife of Public Works Director, Jim Reardon), says she "wasn't sure" where our consultant got its numbers. Um, let's see. We're going to spend $24,000.00 of taxpayer money on a consultant's study to find out why we're losing our asses on golf, and the head of the department with ultimate jurisdiction over the subject of the study apparently had no communication with the consultant about the largest expense of the golf courses. Man, that's top notch management. Maybe she was in Kyrgyzstan during the study? Geez, thanks Patty, for working overtime to make sure we got our money's worth on that study. Someone, give her a raise! Or at least $2,000.00 extra into her retirement!

Second, the consultant aptly points out that much golf course work is required on weekends, a time when union members typically don't work. Are we paying these guys overtime to work on the weekends? If so, that's a nice perk. Time and a half to play Carl Spackler on a nice Saturday afternoon.

Third, we pay somewhere between $141,000.00 and $177,000.00 per year for benefits. And only four workers receive full benefits. Now, that's a nice benefit package to go on top of some of the highest golf course wages in town!

Fourth, if we paid our greenskeepers what the Meadowlark Country Club gets by on, that would take a huge chunk out of our $200,000.00 deficit. Has anyone being paid to manage this City even thought of this??? Proposed it?

Dona?

UPDATE: There is a comment over on Firefly's site that says Patty Gumenberg Reardon is making over $64,000.00/year. Why is that again?

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Most of the temporary grounds crew are kids who are home from college for the summer.

a-fire-fly said...

Just for the record GeeGuy, I have no accounting degree, have never been to college, (I did manage to graduate High School!) and I hate math. However, I did manage to notice these numbers don't add up. How many people in City Gov't can say the same?
Can I have a $2000.00 raise?

Anonymous said...

It's not a raise if you just add it to the person's retirement!

Treasure State Jew said...

Anonymous;

That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard anyone say. Do you work for the Tribune?

Whether or not the money goes to your bank account or your retirement account, money paid by your employer is part of your salary. If your employer spends an extra $2 thousand on your retirement, he has $2 thousand less with which to do other things. That money is given to YOU for YOUR benefit.

It is certainly a raise. Calling it anything else is dishonest.

GeeGuy said...

Call me crazy, Aaron, but by his or her use of the exclamation point, I interpreted his or her statement to be in jest.

(But I loved your reference to the poster's working for the Tribune!)

Treasure State Jew said...

Who can tell anymore? If so, anonymous, I apologize.

However, the Trib seems to think that retirement money is some sort of employer account, that is never accessible by an employee.

Bah.

Anonymous said...

Public accounting is flakey at best. The City has plenty of accounts (i.e. ratholes) to shuffle money in and out of and bury when money needs to be hidden from prying eyes.

Anonymous said...

The report complains about the wages being paid to the part-time summer help then recommends creating the position of "Golf Director" along with four managers. So that would be 5 managers overseeing 9 employees?

Is the Golf Director going to make $64,000.00 a year too?

GeeGuy said...

That, my friend, is an excellent point.

Anonymous said...

The City will have to hire a Director for the Southern Montana Electric Generation and another Director for the Highwood Generating Station.

WolfPack said...

If you read the report there are some very interesting items.

They did a surprise cash register check at one of the courses and found the till $80 over. Those of you in retail know this is worse than being short. A cash shortage usually indicates a mistake (customers will let you make errors in their favor), an overage usually means there is a skimming operation going on. With no POS system, the controls don’t exist to stop stealing.

Another odd thing involves membership pass sales. If you add up the number of passes and multiply by the price it doesn’t equal the revenue reported for pass sales in all years. Yet in FY 05, the amount of dues collected was $411,777, a difference of $11,878. In FY 04, the difference was $7,710, in FY 03 it was 22,473 and in FY 02, it was $26,842. The reason for this discrepancy is not clear but one could guess that passes are being handed out free or being sold to friends and family.

The food vendor pays the greater of 12% of his sales or a flat fee of $38,000 to the city. The 12% trigger has never been met. The For the last 6 years the concessionaire has reported less than $11,000 profit and operated at a loss in 2000 and 2004. The reported questions whether the reported numbers are accurate because total sales are about half of what national averages would predict and COG’s about double.

The last item is the compensation package given to the golf pros. The city pays them a salary of $32,000 and lets them have all lesson fees, merchandise sales from the pro shop and any money maid from the tournaments the pros sponsor. It was estimated that the total compensation is at least $80,000 for a job that lasts from April 1st to Oct 31.

In summary, employees are stealing cash from the tills, employees are giving away thousands of dollars in free passes each year, vendors are cooking books in order to keep from paying fees and golf pros are paid over $11,400 a month for the season. Will any of these facts lead Lawton to question Patty Gumenburg’s qualifications as a manager of Park and Rec? Can I get a job as a golf pro?

WolfPack

Anonymous said...

Patty is a very good manager. She has managed to marry her second City employee who makes about 45K more than her previous city employee husband. She managed to get her son a job at the wastewater treatment plant at 40K a year and she managed to land the "interim" Director of Parks and Recreation job.

Not bad for a high school graduate.

I dont see the Director job listed in the paper or on the City web site and has anyone heard about anyone being brought in for interviews lately?

GeeGuy said...

Wolfpack,

I am not following your discussion about till overages and shortages. Could you please expand it a little?

Anonymous said...

Why isn't the Tribune all over this? Oh, wait - I forgot! It's the Tribune...

WolfPack said...

Geeguy,

The report talks about a surprise audit (cash pull) of a club house cash register. The audit found $80 more in the till then had been rung up. The report also said the COG’s percentages for the pro shop were exceptionally high along with unusually low fee collections for carts and trail use which have no audit trail. Tee times are recorded and therefore trackable but it’s hard to prove how many golfers walk or rode after the fact. This is indicative of an employee who has been stealing by collecting money for goods and services and not ringing it up. The money is placed in the till so as not to draw any suspicion. At the end of shift they “z” out the till and pocket any money in excess of the cash register totals. Since the cash totals turned in balance to the register tape, this is a scheme that can be run all year long without drawing attention specifically to the stealing employee. In general overages are the sign of on going theft and shortages are the sign of sloppy mistakes or stupidity. Only a dumb thief would steal from their own till and leave a record of the missing cash. All of this could be corrected by implementing a computerized POS and checking receipts out on the course. Do you know of any other local cash based business ringing up over a million dollars a year without a POS?

WolfPack

Treasure State Jew said...

Wolfpack;

Let me second your thoughts on the dangers of till overages. It tells me that many sales are happening with the proceeds going into the jeans of the till clerk.

However, a POS doesn't solve the problem. What is to stop the same clerk from just not running cash sales through the POS?

Electronic systems can be gamed, albeit with a bit more difficulty than manual systems. However, all systems require zealous oversight by strong management.

And that, I submit, is where we are now lacking.

dona stebbins said...

I think that the entire issue bears looking into. I am disturbed that the Tribune seems to show little or no interest in the root cause of the dysfunctional system, and chooses to hang their biased stories on the union employees and how much they are paid.
Hey, folks - the management is the problem. Look at the real cause, rather than the one to which the city management directs you. It's a classic "bait and switch" tactic, and the only ones who are fooled are those who wish to be fooled.