By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — TOWN OF TONAWANDA — Officials released the town’s golf concession revenues from the 2012 season Monday, marking the first go-around for the town since it controversially took responsibility for the stands from political hopeful Michael Vishion.
The town terminated the contract with Vishion in December of 2011 following the businessman’s challenge to Councilman Dan Crangle for his seat.
Vishion labeled the decision “political retribution.”
But town board members and employees denied the accusation, arguing the town made the move to increase profits to the town — as Vishion only paid the town $12,000 per year for operating at the two golf courses.
Director of Youth, Parks and Recreation Dan Wiles was scheduled to present the town’s revenues from the season in November to prove the move was not done in vain.
After delaying the presentation for months, Councilman Dan Crangle, Councilman Joseph Emminger and Wiles publicized the figures during a press conference Monday.
Total revenues amounted to $161,911.98 for the season, a high figure despite the fact that the town reduced menu costs and extended services with longer hours.
After taking into account the cost for supplies, part time staff, liquor liability insurance, concession carts and training, the balance stands at $20,633.96 — higher than the $12,000 the town previously received.
But the town also invested in equipment and remodeling at the golf houses that “would have not incurred otherwise” amounting to $39,335.92, much more than the $20,633 profit previously listed.
Wiles, however, said much of that $39,335.92 figure went to remodeling costs for items such as a new carpet, windows, tables and fireplace enhancements, that would have been done even if Vishion still operated the stand, but were “accelerated” after the town took over the concessions.
Regardless, Crangle said that regaining “over half our investment in the first year of operation” was a success and a “standard any private business would like to see.”
Wiles and Crangle also noted that the budget in 2012 was down $215,571 from 2011, but the first-year investment in the takeover of the business was still accounted for in the reduced budget numbers, and that no bonding or extra funds were necessary.
“All investments in equipment, remodeling, insurance, training and supplies have been done within the parameters of the approved budget,” Crangle said.
In addition, Wiles said that many of the upfront costs from this year will be reduced next year, including a reduction in staff hours, cheaper concession carts, a reduction in unpopular menu items and beers, and lowered training costs for employees who have already taken the courses.
As a result, Crangle estimates the profits will increase substantially in 2013 once those costs are lowered.
But Vishion had a quick retort and criticized the town’s report in a statement he released Monday.
“The presentation states the town substantially increased revenue, yet the numbers reflect an almost $20,000 loss, not accounting for the 12,000 of pure profit no longer being generated from the previous concession contract,” Vishion said.
Vishion also questioned whether the town listed all expenses accurately, implying he believes Wiles falsified the figures after making a rash decision to take over the concessions during the political season.
In turn, Wiles has attempted to provide evidence that the town had been considering terminating the contract before Vishion ran for the council, and released a letter from 2010 and an email from 2008 to reporters Monday.
“Personally, I think we should make the decision to terminate their agreement in December,” Wiles wrote to town employees in 2008. “Professionally, I believe it is better for the town to operate.”
Vishion, however, believes otherwise.
“If Wiles had the sufficient business experience he believes to possess and would have done the proper research before making his recommendation to take over the concessions, it would have been very evident that this would not be a profitable move for the town,” Vishion said.
Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150