ORO VALLEY- More controversy is surrounding Oro Valley's decision to buy the El Conquistador Country Club. The News 4 Tucson Investigators found out the golf projections compared to what actually happened are way off. Now, the town is re-evaluating.
We asked Oro Valley town manager Greg Caton,"do you feel it was a bad investment?"
"This is a great investment for our community," said Caton on Friday, November 13, 2015. It was the same day a report comes out, outlining how the town is looking to modify golf projections for this fiscal year.
45 holes of golf, 31 tennis courts and two swimming pools at a price of $1,000,000.
"The courses are in phenomenal condition and we're optimistic about the future," said Caton.
"We did not have all the information we needed the day we made the vote," said Oro Valley councilman Mike Zinkin, who was against the purchase after hearing the town would lose millions from the start.
"In the December 17th meeting they said we're going to break even in five years, 3-5 years they're going to break even, but it's going to cost you $17 million to get to that break even point, would you really break even," said Zinkin.
"We need to face reality," said Councilman Brendan Burns, back on October 7, 2015 during a regular town council meeting. Burns express buyer's remorse, and the meeting got heated when some thought it would be a good idea for town staff to re-forecast golf revenue.
Mayor Satish Hiremath defended the purchase, despite the town's golf numbers falling short of projection. But council rejected going back and re-evaluating.
"It's a package deal, and so what frustrates me and what really irks me as you can tell is when you keep singling out the golf piece, you can't do that," said Mayor Hiremath.
The N4T Investigators confirmed in just the first three months, the town lost more than $1,000,000. To put those losses in perspective, Oro Valley budgeted to lose $1.7 million for the first four years of operation. But our records show, those losses could rise.
"Although we're finishing up a tough non peak season, we're on track, the course is couldn't be in better condition and we're really starting to see an uptick in our numbers," said Caton.
Despite what Caton told the N4T Investigators, we obtained his report dated November 13, 2015 which admits revenues are under budget and expenses are above budget for the first several months of this fiscal year and the town is now looking at not only cutting hours of operation, but they're looking to close the course on Mondays and cut staff. Oro Valley says it will save more than $469,000.
"My worry is what happens 2-3 years down the road? I mean the Mayor and others want to say give us a year and then judge, can't afford to give you a year," said Zinkin.
"What I would ask is for some patience, this is a 30 year property and we're not going to turn it into the black overnight," said Caton.
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