Country Club seeks assessment over four years to handle budget woes

The Rancho Murieta Country Club board of directors opened a series of six meetings Tuesday, asking members to address the club’s budget woes by approving a special assessment through 2013.

The proposal, which goes to a member vote this month, calls for every member to pay an annual assessment equivalent to one month’s dues for each of the next four years. This year’s assessment would be billed half in April and half in May. The following years’ assessments would be billed monthly.

The Women's Golf Club was invited to the session, and more than 60 people attended.  They saw a 40-minute presentation by club directors and the general manager, followed by 40 minutes of questions from the audience.

A slide outlined the dollar impact of assessments this year and next year on various classes of members:

  • Golf members: Two payments totaling $387 this spring and $32 a month next year
  • Legacy members: Two payments totaling $352 this spring and $29 a month next year
  • Sport Social members: Two payments totaling $274 this spring and $23 a month next year
  • Junior Executive members: Two payments totaling $282 this spring and $24 a month next year
  • House members: Two payments totaling $69 this spring and $6 a month next year

Ballots will be mailed Friday to Golf, Legacy and Charter members, the “equity” classes of membership.  Under the club's bylaws, they are the only members who get to vote.

Ballots are due back by March 20, and 271 votes, a quorum of members, is required for the assessment to pass.  That's 40 percent of eligible members.

Vince Lepera, the board president, opened the meeting by quashing rumors that have circulated recently. The club is not filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, he said; the South Course is not closing and neither is the Parasol Room, and the club is not proposing assessments of thousands of dollars per member.

He and other speakers said the club’s situation is due to the overall economy and the club’s move away from an initiation fee for new members.  Despite eliminating that fee, the club’s membership numbers have still dropped, reducing dues revenue.  Clubs nationally are having similar problems.

Lepera said development isn’t expected to resume in the community before 2017, so there won’t be the possibility of an influx of new Murietans into the club.  On the expense side, he pointed to the need to continue course restorations begun last year and a federal requirement to replace radio-controlled irrigation systems by 2013 at a cost of $275,000.

If the club ever ceased to exist, he said, Rancho Murieta would be facing a multimillion-dollar bill to handle its wastewater, which at present is treated by the Community Services District and used to irrigate the courses.

One of the presentation slides showed a comparison of monthly dues at nine area clubs.  Rancho Murieta Country Club’s dues were the second-lowest.

General Manager Stan Korich spoke in general terms about possible impacts if the assessment is rejected.  He said every department would experience deeper cuts, and course renovation and equipment replacement would be halted.  The pro shop, snack bar and driving range all would be cut back, along with entertainment at the club, he said.  In all, he said, the "private club experience" would be lessened.

A handful of statements at the meeting drew applause:

  • Lepera told the audience, “The quality of the (club’s) food has in fact improved.”  (Applause.) And later, “The golf courses have in fact improved over the last year and a half.” (Applause.)
  • An audience member said the Pro Shop’s selection of women’s golf clothes causes many members to spend “a hell of a lot of money” at North Ridge Country Club.  (Applause.) Director Tom Lewandowski answered that the Pro Shop here will address this: “We should have access to the same quality and brands as they (North Ridge) do.” (Applause.)
  • A member said, “There’s no place on God’s Earth as beautiful as this community and the people who live here.” (Applause.)

Lepera said the same presentation and information will be offered at each meeting, and all of the documents will be available on the club’s web site after the meetings conclude.

Here’s the schedule for the remainder of the sessions.  If you’re not able to attend when your group is invited, the club asks that you attend one of the sessions for all members.

3 p.m. Wednesday -- Senior Men’s Club
3 p.m. Thursday -- Niners and Senior Women’s clubs
6:30 Thursday -- Men’s Club
6:30 p.m. Friday -- All members
3 p.m. Saturday -- All members

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Jacque Villa
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Member since: 07/11/2009
RMCC Assessment

What a shame that the club is going to have to assess the members due to lack of funds.  When we were members ( for 25 years) we payed a few assessments and each time the club had to assess, they lost several more members. We just spoke to a few today and they said they will have to give up their membership because they just can't afford it anymore. In todays economy folks have to tighten their belts and decide whether playing golf in RM is worth the price.

Beth Buderus
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Very true...but

Jacque, very true...but if our club cannot survive, then our home values will also go down further.   It's unfortunately a Catch 22 situation.

Randy Pishek
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RMCC Assessment

I feel it is a shame that the Country Club feels it is necessary to have an assessment.  It appears that they haven't explored cuts that are needed in this very difficult economy.  This TAX assessment will be  $26,403 mo. or $316,836 a year based on Feb. memberships numbers.  Based on these numbers the Country Club takes in $3,810,204. a year, or $317,517. a month in memebership dues counting all levels.  Plus $58,950 mo in Food & Beverage minimum.  Plus what the amount of Trail Fee's which I am estimating at 300 carts a month, that is another $15,000 a month.  This is a grand total of roughly $391,467. a month in income.

I would like to see the club make cuts in every department like a well run business.  We are all faced with budget cuts every year depending on our income and the club should be run under the same rules.  I like the Country Club experience as much as anyone but we should consider cuts before taxing the loyal members.  We were told in the past  the food & beverage minimum would solve the short falls of the restaurant, I guess it didn't.  Remember this assessment is for four years and amounts to $1,267,344.  This is not counting the normal 5% dues increase that we will most likely continue to get each November which amounts to another $15,875.85 a month or $190,510.20 the first year and grows to $220,539.35 the 4th year. 

I propose that all voting members vote NO on the assessment.  (I am a sport social member)  We need to consider making more cuts by reducing hours in the Restaurant, pro shop and general personnel cuts throughtout the club.  We need to stop any course renovation immediately.  The renovation can be done when the economy heals.  In our households we adjust our budgets all the time and in fact if we were considering a remodel we would put it off until we have the money.  There are many area's to pick up revenue but it shouldn't be at the expense of the membership.

This assessment and future dues increase will cause the Club to lose more members, which in turn will be cause for another assessment.  Lose a combination of 25 golf members amounts to $18,185. a month including dues, F&B and trail fee's.

Please consider my thoughts before voting!   Randy

 

 

 

Randy Pishek
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Correction RMCC Assessment

I miss typed the at ending paragraph, I meant to type a lose  combination of 45 members.  Sorry 

Randy

RM.com
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Club says it needs 'yes' on both votes

At Saturday afternoon's final member session, attended by more than 50 people, Vince Lepera, club president, addressed an issue not covered in Tuesday's story -- that the assessment vote is in two parts.  One vote covers this year's assessment and the other covers the assessment for the subsequent three years.

Lepera said a number of members he spoke with after Friday's session predicted this year's assessment would be approved, but the one covering the next three years might get voted down.

Lepera made a plea for members to approve both, saying they're both needed.  If the second is rejected, he said the board will have to come back to members with the same request next year.

Lepera also said he agreed with many in the audience who wanted to vote on the matter but couldn't because they're in a membership class that doesn't get a vote.  He said the board will begin to address that issue once the assessment vote is complete.

The ballots arrived at many Murieta homes Saturday.

Bron Croswell
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I recently attended a

I recently attended a meeting at the Club regarding the proposed assessment to the membership. After leaving the meeting, I realized that the presentation had raised more questions than it had answered. Assessments and policy changes that have a major financial impact on members should not be implemented quickly without a complete overview and discussion by all concerned, especially member to member. The Board recently denied the addition of an "open forum" to the Club website making it impossible to see other member comments and questions. As a result, we are now being exposed to this stimulus proposal very quickly and asked to render a vote within the next 13 days. Why so fast? Some of the other issues described by the General Manager also raised immediate concerns. I first learned of a sprinkler requirement which had a price tag of $275,000.00 which the Board has apparently been aware of for the past year. Now it has become a financial hurdle in the future. I also dicovered that the Club had established a line of credit for $500,000.00 which has now been encumbered to a level of $350,000.00 and is due soon. Where were thses funds spent, specifically. The General Manager also suggested that this current assessment proposal would allow for the continuation of the "course restoration" project. I thought the previous assessment was to address course restoration. Why do we need additonal funds and where were the monies from the prior assessment spent, specifically. We were also told of various other items of a "need to do" list which would have a significant impact on funds, however, I do not feel that they would justify an additonal assessment to members at this time. When asked what would occur if this current assessment proposal was not passed, the General Manager indicated that cuts would be made in all departments, including services and activities. I would like to see this contingency budget prepared by the General Manager as this may the more prudent way to proceed during these economic times until we can return to normal operation levels. Since the arrival of the new General Manager and during the leadership of the Board under Mr. Lepera, is seems as if the Club has been faced with significant financial issues. As a result, fees have increased, in-house products cost more, range fees have increased, dues have increased, a food and beverage policy was brought back and increased over 25%, memberships have continued to decline and a recent "emergency assessment" was implemented. Now, we are being asked to approve an additonal assessment while expecting another increase in dues later this year. Granted, the economy has had a major effect on these issues but I'm not convinced that more membership money is the answer to the core problems we face. I would then urge all voting members to be ever vigilant while considering their upcoming vote.

Randy Pishek
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RMCC Assessment Cont.

I now see some more good points have been brought up.  I would love to see the so called Black budget that was mentioned at the meeting today.  I to think we should approach this with much caution....why not wait for 3 month while more idea's can come forth from the membership.   What's the Rush!!

Phillip Sexton
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RMCC Assessment

As a Sport Social member I have no vote in this situation.  But I do have an a opinion.  I have been a member of four country clubs and assessments and minimums are not new to me.  The minimum policy is very lenient.  By including the purchases in the pro shop as credit towards the minimum makes it very easy to fulfill this requirement.  The assessment of one month's dues for the next 4 years is not unreasonable.  Most assesments for the country clubs in which I have been a member have been for large capital projects in the $5,000 to $10,000 range.  If I take the emotion of the assessment and the potential November dues increase out of the equation, my membership is still value added.  I get to play golf five days a week on two very nice golf coarses, my golf cart only cost me $50 a month (this is the first club where I could use my own cart) and I'm a short ride from breakfast, lunch and dinner on the weekends.  I can not go to any other golf coarse and get that value. My frustration is because of my class of membership, I can not vote.  

The questions we should be asking the board of directors is, are we planning for the future?  What percentage of the assessments will be going to build reserves for capital and replacement projects?  Is the assessment only to cover the short fall of the operating budget? How active have we advertised the value of our membership to people outside of our community?  Why have we had three food and beverage managers in the past year?  With the limited choices of restaurants in RM, why do members not utilized our clubs foodservice? Why do we allow outside food and beverage (I'm also guility) ?

So I ask the voting members who will be representing me.  However you vote, be sure that you have analyzed for the future of the club and the value it represents for all of us.

Thank you,

Phillip Sexton

Phillip Sexton

Robert Johnson
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Options Please

I attended one of the country club townhall sessions and have some new questions that might be worth be asking.

Why not consider cutting costs instead of taxing the members further?

Why can't we wait for the economy to recover before marketing such loss leaders as F&B?  I heard the finance folks state the F&B is a loss every year. It sounds kind of crazy but we keep trying the same things over and over and we keep getting the same results.   So OK, stop doing that.   I heard we can turn it around by selling more banquets, weddings and fine dining. But to who?  If discetionary dollars are low... then how does having a fine dining facility help?   There are no buyers.  Why not shut it down and save $2.3 million year over year?  Or at least a dramatic scale back in such areas.

What I heard was all about raising the top line - revenues.  While that makes sense when there are potential buyers but let's face it, there aren't too many out there. All types of businesses are cutting costs.  Why do we think we're any different?

I was also uncomfortable with some of the answers I heard from Mr. Lepera.  I felt he was confrontational, defensive and almost evasive with his response to questions from those in attendance.  For example, how did we convert a line of credit to a amortized note, without some kind of member vote? Or at the very least a mention of such a fundamental change in finances, in one of our increasingly sporadic "letters from the president". 

I more than understand that our board members are often under great pressure and way under appreciated for their volunteer efforts.  Let's face it, times are tough.  The burden of ones personal / business commitments often don't leave enough time for volunteer work.   Perhaps some fresh eyes and new ideas may be in order.
I'd like to see some alternative choices discussed.  Instead of being pressured with 2 choices, both involving a little more money. Neither are long term solutions neither seem to address the "burn rate" of our cash.

Cut expenses.

Just a weekend hack... not the ex-gm

Robert

Beth Buderus
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Not an option

If you cut the F&B then you will lose your House/Social Members.   And besides that...we finally have an EXCELLENT Chef! 

While the former Chef could sometimes do a great meal, it was so inconsistent.  Chef Jason is doing a fantastic job and now eating at the Club is something to look forward to and not our "last" option.

Candice Koropp
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Member since: 02/12/2008
Specifics at a Minimum

I agree with those that have preceded me, that the rush is on.  Similar to Obamacare?  

There were few specifics given as to where cuts have been made or exactly what cuts would come in the future.  Again, in this economy, the luxury of taxing the rich may not work here.  Cuts need to be made in personnel, and I have a few ideas.  There are three or four in administration, especially if some things could be more automated (Accounting).  As with RMA, we asked for a 3% reduction in each department across the board, so that our board does not need to keep raising dues.  You may notice, no dues increase this year, for RMA.   I think that opening the club up to the public in food service and play on the courses can help to generate some needed income.  Food service could be "opened" one day a week, for instance.  And, like the course used to be open for play on Monday's, after twelve noon, this could be done again.  These ideas aren't new and perhaps not long-term remedies, but now there seems to be no end in sight for members to ante up more money to offset the loss of membership. I don't understand the reluctance of the board to offer these solutions.  Afterall, we lost a lot of income/members last year, as I predicted, with raising dues, an assessment, and adding an F and B minimum.  That conclusion seemed to be a no-brainer.  And, as mentioned before in this thread, more members are talking about dropping.

With the glut of courses in the Sacramento area, one can play a plethora of courses for well under the $50-$65 range.  With golfnow.com, many rounds are under $30.  So, how often would we need to play here to get our dues-worth?  And, further, courses in very good condition.  No it's not as convenient, but after while one must consider the trade-offs.  Media stories have spoken to the decline in golf after the peak several years ago, and how the country clubs are suffering. I wonder, if there is a breaking point, at which, RMCC would say we cannot afford to stay open with X number of members?   We are heading in that direction. 

I urge members to look at the long-term situation here.  Be bold.  Possibly a no vote on these proposals, would force some more conversation with the membership, and cuts before burdening the smaller pool of members.  As much as I hate to quote someone like Hillary, but, "it takes a village" and let us work with the board to find better solutions that don't cost membership numbers. 

 

Dick Cox
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Keep Food & Beverage
I moved to Rancho Murieta 14 years ago to once again live in a golfing community and t enjoy the amenities of this community and club which included golf, and all that belonging to a club meant. At one time I played 150 or so rounds of golf a year. As a result of health issues in 2006 my golfing rounds dropped to approximately 10-12 rounds a year but I continued being a full golfing member until last year when I dropped to a house member. As there are limited dinning opportunities close by having the club available and also using it for entertainment has been a pleasure.   I believe Mr. Johnsons’ suggestion of closing the Food and Beverage services would be a disaster and possible death keel for this club. I don’t know how many house members there are currently; however, I’d be willing to bet most of them would disappear should his suggestion be followed.   The salvation of RMCC is of dire importance to this community and we need to do what ever can be done to insure its continued operations.

Dick Cox

Doug Lewis
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cart work

  I mentioned this several months ago but have they explored letting the CC golf cart service area work on non member carts?  Apparently they used too but some members complained that only members should have that privilege and it was stopped.  There are hundreds of non member golf carts here in RM that require maintenance, tires  and parts.  This could help pay for shop staff.  

Doug Lewis

 

Doug Lewis

Carol Frost Gus...
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Member since: 08/25/2007
Food & Beverage

We have been House Members at RMCC since 2004.  My  husbands health prevents us from either golf or tennis.  We use the Food and Beverage Service at least once a week and enjoy taking our grand-daughter to the Parasol Room.  If the diningroom closes there is no reaon for us to belong.  We spend WAY OVER or required quaterly minimum.

Andy Keyes
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Member since: 08/22/2007
Food and Beverage Quality

The Food and Beverage quality has been up and down over the past 8 years that we've been members.  For a brief period a year ago  it improved dramatically only to fall again to its same old quality.  The 19th hole was attractive for the quality and price of call drinks and still is.  I wonder if the club were to open up the 19th hole as an open bar or if the Food and Beverage were to be a franchise run by an outside entity if that would help.  In our location the options for the CC are limited and this economy certainly isnt helping anyone.

Jacque Villa
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Member since: 07/11/2009
RMCC

Andy, all those suggestions have been heard through the years and rejected.....in the almost 30 years that we have been here, we have heard many suggestions including opening the club one night a week for non-member residents to dine and check out the club. I know several young families that have never seen the inside of the clubhouse. When I was on the F & B committee, we made several suggestions then that were rejected. And my husband sat on the BOD and we went through the same thing that is happening now. Management always said the members want this club to stay private. Well, here we are.

Beth Buderus
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RMCC

I too have suggested having a specific number of non-member tables (maybe 5) set aside for dinner one night a week on a reservation only basis.  If more members want to step up to the plate on those nights then they would have first rights to any table.

Edra Clift
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RMCC

Before I moved here in 2001, I had eaten in your dining room a couple of times with friends from Amador County.  They would stop here for dinner after a day of shopping, appointments, etc. in Sacramento.  Am I mistaken in thinking that the dining room was open to the public, at that time, for perhaps one evening a week and Sunday brunch?

I know several people in that area who would love to be able to stop here for a "good" dinner. 

Edra Clift

E P Clift
Andy Keyes
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Member since: 08/22/2007
Everyone has a price

Jacque,

 

As the pie of revenue continues to shrink and the costs per member no matter what class escalates, every member will make their evaluation at some point.  Many have already and several more no doubt will in the near future.  No solution should be off the table.  Management that simply sticks its head in the sand and makes decisions based on the past is doomed to failu

Robert Johnson
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Think outside the box

Now we have some good ideas.  Instead of just "raising the dues". These suggestions and many options should be considered.  I have to wonder why the board has rejected them in the past.

If the F&B is going to break even, it needs the opportunity to find new business.  And not be hampered by the notion of all things being "private" is some how better. 

How about home deliveries or a to-go service? How about opening up the outdoor northside terrace during the summer? How about leasing the F&B to a subcontractor?

I am not proposing or suggesting any of these ideas but if the F&B is so important, then we need to be creative.  Because it's a whole lot easier to just shut it down until the demand is there. 

Because, if the courses close then you'll see some creative ideas.  I can see it now...it's a weekend and a whole bunch of school buses are lined up down at the main entrance.  Only, instead of little kids headed for school, it will be a long line of us ex cc members.  Yep, just a bunch of hackers and duffers schleping their golf bags on the bus to Castle Oaks or Empire Ranch.  Our wives / husbands giving us a peck on the cheek as they hand us our sack lunches.

 

Robert

Randy Pishek
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RMCC TAX

I have been reading all the very good comments on both sides.  I agree something needs to be done.  The problem is the Board and General Manager didn't go to the membership for input, they decided as they always have to solve the problem one way through  assessment (TAX) and dues increase every November like they have always done.  It is time to explore other never tried before or modified solutions to the growing economic problem the club is facing.  The list below lists just a few things I have thought about or heard from some of my friends in conversation.

1.Outside play  20 rounds on weekend Friday -Sunday and Tuesday-Thursday 20 rounds this is only five foursomes. This is not any worse than having more outside tournaments.  This only being done for 40 weeks of the year.  Revenue $100,000 almost 1/3 of the yearly assessment proposed.

2.Restaurant Hours and Days.  Have the Parasol Room only opened Friday and Saturday nights for dinner.  The 19th hole open Tuesday through Sunday only serving food till 6:00PM, Sunday till 5PM.  Bar closes at 8:00PM with the exception of Friday & Saturday nights.  Cut in personnel saving probably $50,000 a year maybe more.

3.Keep the F&B minimum but make it only apply to restuarant and bar, this would probably make that area finally profitable and very busy.  Might actually show a profit of $50,000 yr.

4.Stop the Renovation project now!  No one in there right mind would spend on a new car or a house remodel if they were bleeding as bad as this club.  Savings and I am not sure of the numbers because it wasn't made that clear at the meeting but I'll estimate $75,000 yr.

As you can see by implementing the list above, and these are just suggestions we would be very close to the $300,000 assessment that is being proposed.  Plus we could still do the very optimistic things the General Manager was discussing with outside tournaments, weddings in this vast area that is never used at the club.  I do have a question why has it taken the General Manager 2 years to start or think of the use of the other space? 

I love Rancho Murieta and the community.  I want the Country Club experience I just think now is not the time to take on anymore debt....in fact I was really upset to hear we have a note now.  This was abuse of the revolving credit account.

Times are rough and when the Country pulls out of this then we can start the projects that are needed but don't put the burden on the loyal members who might be struggling.  Just wait and approach this slower with more compassion and understanding.  We the MEMBERS deserve that much!  Let's go back to the drawing board and show the members some ways of accomplishing the task without a TAX on the members!

Thanks again and please vote NO on both assessments!  Better yet why doesn't the Board cancel the Assessment vote and come up with a no assessment solution.  Wouldn't that be great!  Give the PEOPLE a Voice!

 

Frank Pumilia
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Non Members Dining

Beth I know you understand this but if non members were able to dine at the club one night per week (on any basis) why would current house members pony up $69/mo and pay the $50/mo minimum for the same opportunity.  

With the recent house member successful promotion there are currently over 450 house members are paying for this right. This brings in over $31,000/mo in dues and $22,500 in minimum spending. They deserve a quality private club experience.

This membership class is very valuable to RMCC and in my opinion, all the suggestions to open to the public or shut down or reduce F&B services are barking up the wrong tree.

As many know the club was open to the public in the past.   However all the F & B losses and costs for golf course maintenance and equipment , repairs, carpets etc,etc  had to be paid by the members.  The guests just went home with only the cost of the meal or the golf, the members paid the rest...The value of a membership was not much if you could just come on down and use the facility when ever you wanted.  Why join??

This is why the by-laws were redone to separate lots from the club and make it private and worth something.  This change worked well and the club was doing well.

Now the economy has taken its toll and many may not feel the experience is worth its current costs in their budgets.  This is an individual decision. 

The bottom line is the cost to be a member at RMCC (in any category) is a bargain compared to the other private club options in the area and a steal compared to other private clubs around the country.

Vince Lepera
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Responding to your posts

I can understand that Mr. Croswell does not like the assessment plan, and he has every right not to support it.  I also believe that he has the right to post on RanchoMurieta.com  his version of the facts as it relates to the RMCC Board and management but I also have the right and duty, as RMCC President, to set the record straight for our RMCC members.

The Club's financial data is available to all members (always has been under this Board's tenure).  Further, members have always been welcome to attend monthly Committee meetings and Board meetings.  Based on the misinformation and other questions put forth, once again I will attempt to address these.

He says that the Board knew about the FCC irrigation control system for over a year, which is true and infers that it should have been addressed before now.  The FCC requirement was confirmed and discussed at a Greens committee meeting and forwarded to the Finance committee in October of 2008; it was considered in the 2009 P & E budget. The General Manager, Staff & I met several times with Toro and Rainbird sales personal to discuss pricing and payment terms options between November and December of 2008 and during the summer and fall of 2009. Initially the price of this system was slightly over $350k and RMCC was not able to get approved for any type of credit terms over a realistic period of time (everyone wanted a personal guarantee from our landlord the PTF).  In the past 11 months, we have been deliberating these issues with Toro (whose business has been hurting) and they now believe that we would be able to lease a system with a buyout of $1.  The price has also dropped to $275k range.

If Mr. Croswell or any member had attended any of the Greens, Finance or Board meetings or asked for a financial statement or minutes of any of these meetings anytime in the past year he would have seen that this item was indeed given adequate and prudent consideration in last year's budgeting process and remained on the list as a zero budgeted item the entire year.

The next issue regarding the club's debt; the club's whole debt structure is 5% of our revenues (close to $400k which includes all lease payments).  The club had a credit line long before I was elected to the Board and it was used quite frequently.  This Board took action to leave the bank we were with (Guaranty Bank) as they were in the process of leaving the commercial lending field and was in fact shut down by the FDIC right after we left.

This Board was able to retain a credit facility with Sierra Vista Bank with more favorable terms than what was in place and we as a club saved around $19k per year in loan costs and interest rates.  Again a prudent thing to do as a Board.

It is very common to forget unpopular items but no one can forget the costs associated with the CDO and the 2 million dollar problem we had in 2006 through 2008.  While this Board was able to convince the PTF fund the majority of these costs, the club did, in fact, lay out close to $400k in attorney fees, engineer fees, drawings and permits.  We had to use the credit line to fund these costs along with another $150k worth of one-time items.  Thus, in the latter part of 2009, while seeing really no light at the end of the tunnel, it was recommended by the Finance committee and approved by the Board to convert the amount of money on the credit line to a term note of 42 months at 7.25% interest. At the same time, we established another credit line for $120k; again a prudent thing to do by your Board.

By the way, the balance on the credit line is zero.

Mr. Croswell's post said that the club's debt of $350K (actually $374K) was due soon.  Again, he must have missed it when our General Manager clearly stated that it was paid and converted to a term note in February of this year with a monthly payment of $10k per month over a 42 month period (the loan is paid off in July of 2013).  Thus, nothing is due soon!

Mr. Croswell also made reference that the Board recently denied allowing an open forum on the club's website for questions and answers and that also is misinformation.  We have not discussed this issue in well over a year if not longer and while I do support a plan of this nature the cost for a module to implement such a forum was around $7,500 through our website company.  Also, it is hard to maintain such a forum. We've all seen blogs etc, throughout the internet get out of control quickly. Thus this issue is on the back burner as I see a hundred different ways to spend the member's money on more important items.  However as President I believe we have communicated our message through the President's/GM letters, town hall meetings, but most important all Board meetings and committee meetings which are in fact open to the membership base.  We also make it a point that every member email is read and responded to promptly to answer member questions or comment on their suggestions. 

I appreciate the fact that Mr. Croswell and possibly other members is not a supporter of the assessment plan as laid out by the Board. However, it concerns me that their decisions have been based on such distorted facts.  I do hope in the future that he or any member will either attend a Board meeting or at least a Finance or Green committee meeting to really learn about the everyday management and running of your club. I would also suggest that he and other members go the club's website at www.ranchomurietacc.com and once again read the PowerPoint presentation and learn the facts of the situation. The website also has the questions that were asked by the members and the responses given in the six "State of the Club" meetings.

Further let's all remember the cost cutting, waste reduction, and increased margins that the Finance committee, Staff and your Board continues to work on.  With around $190k worth of cuts and savings in 2009, we have just started in 2010 and to date we have found reductions and savings to a tune of $100k for this year.  However savings and cost cutting will not just do it, we all have to remember we are sitting on a 30 year old facility and as such we are asking for support from all members.

Let me close in saying that based on the majority of the feedback we have received, the members overall found the presentation contained factual, believable data and answered more questions than it raised.

Thank You!

Vince Lepera
RMCC President

Andy Keyes
Post rating: 120
Andy Keyes's picture
Posts: 301
Member since: 08/22/2007
Thank you Vince

Thanks for engaging the subject in this forum.  Your forthright and honest addressing of the issues is greatly appreciated, your leadership of the board of the club is as well.  Keeping the undistorted information flowing in a public forum will be critical to the success of the club.  Keep up the good work my friend.

Nellie Bloom
Post rating: 480
Nellie Bloom's picture
Posts: 303
Member since: 08/03/2007
Country Club Food

Having been a Muriatian for almost 5 years I've heard a ton of pros and cons regarding Country Club food and service. I think the club is an important asset to our community and I'd love to see the restaurant(s) thrive.  I'd like to donate 5 hours of my time to help get the club where it's members  want it to go.  I've got a gajillion years of retail and restaurant management and consulting experience plus a BS in Organizational Management.  I think we can take two giant steps forward.  Please PM me if you are interested.

Tom Landwehr
Post rating: 18
Tom Landwehr's picture
Posts: 3
Member since: 10/17/2007
Outside the Box

I know the Pension Trust owns the Club, but can we eliminate the union employees?  I have asked this question to current and former Board Members and have gotten different answers. 

We all agree times are very tough.  I know the Club has done a lot at lowering cost.  But if they can eliminate the Union employees with their great salaries, benifits, retirement plans, this would greatly help.

Another idea is to out source the Food and Beverage to a company that specializes in this.  This would get rid of their union in the process.  Also, outsource the maintence to a company like Valley Crest.  They would use our curent superintendent(s), but their own workers (who are non-union).

As for allowing non-members to utilize the restaurant and bar; the 19th hole area is fully used by members.  The Parosol Room is not.  Maybe open up the Parosol Room only to non-members and have them pay a higher price (non-member) pricing like in the Pro Shop.  Why I am discussing this, why not change the name too?  Parosol Room sounds very old.  Also, the dress code for the Parosol Room should allow approved golfing clothes, like shorts.  I have been truned away after golf because of shorts a few times.  I was told to go home and change.  I went home and had dinner there. 

 

 

Bron Croswell
Post rating: 10
Bron Croswell's picture
Posts: 4
Member since: 07/22/2009
Resonse to Mr. Lepera

The current assessment proposal by the Board seems to have energized many of the Club members as is evidenced by the numerous postings, both pro and con, on this forum.  A recent defensive response by Mr. Lepera directed at me somewhat demonstates the emotion involved in this issue.  It is important to note that discussion on the merits of this assessment is and should be strictly a "business" decision and not controlled by personal feelings toward other members.  I respect and feel confident that Mr. Lepera feels strongly about the position he and the Board has taken, however, that does not mean that they are correct in the direction they have proposed or have been timely and specific with all the details needed to make an informed decision by the membership.

Mr. Lepera has stated that the open forum suggestion was at least "a year or more old".  This is simply not the truth.  According to e-mails, the open forum proposal and supporting information was initiated in June 2009 and negotiations with the General Manager continued to Sept 2009 when he presented the reasons for the Board's denial.  Those reasons differ in specifics from what Mr. Lepera has stated.  This all occurred within the last 6 months.  The effort and cost to implementing an open forum would be negligible compared to the benefits for the membership and provide a venue for communication.

Mr. Lepera has suggested that I and other concerned members should attend monthly meetings in order to learn of financial issues facing the Club.  This suggestion is valid, however, major issues such as those we are facing should have been documented and presented in detail to the membership for consideration and review prior to a general meeting.  It is the responsibility of the Board to insure that everyone is advised of the important choices before us.  A monthly meeting would not provide exposure to all the members and would not allow the entire group to hear what everyone else is saying or the questions that arise.

The issues involving the irrigation and sprinkler system, the Club's current debt, the outsanding loans with provisions to address them, current deficiencies in monthly dues income and declining membership levels are all areas of grave concern to all of us.  Side issues relating to the food and beverage operations, equipment repair and replacement along with continued course restoration are equally as important.  These issues open up numerous areas for discussion and clarification, rather than a 90 minute power point presentation followed by an assessment vote within a few days which would encumber all the members for the next 4 years.  Once again, I do question this as a sound "business" solution.  Perhaps 60 days of discussion and a town hall meeting dealing with these major financial hurdles seems more appropriate.  This forum we are currently engaged in is proof that open discussion is healthy regardless if you are for or against an issue.  As an example, I learned some additional facts from Mr. Lepera's posting which were not discussed in the recent meeting I attended.  The comments on this forum appear to be sincere and well thought out, not the product of members "being out of control".  I urge the members to ask questions and seek specific details relating to these important issues.  The Board is a volunteer function of the Club and exists to support the members while the members need to be fully informed so as to guide the Board.

Randy Pishek
Post rating: 3
Randy Pishek's picture
Posts: 5
Member since: 03/29/2008
RMCC TAX Delay

I would like to state that I am not saying that the Board or General Manager aren't doing a good job.  I am very thankful for the Board which is a volunteer organization and for the very professional presentation the General Manager made.  I agree with Bron that it would be nice to have a more open discussion about the options that might be available with or without an assessment(TAX).  I think by the amount of remarks and idea's that have come up on ranchomurieta.com that this shows that we should take a 60 day break from any vote and have a couple of  Town Hall meetings to put more options on the table.  I kind of see this like the healthcare issue that is happening in our country right now, of course on a much smaller scale but we need to slow up and  arrive at a pure business solution to solve the Country Clubs financial future.  I am asking the board to stop the vote and let's have more open forms to review all possible solutions.   I really don't think waiting 60 days is going to make or brake the club but it might help unite the membership that they were all involved in the final choices.  On that note I think there should be two different choices that the membership can vote on.  And maybe in the waiting period there can be a solution to allow all members to vote on the future of the their Club.

Thanks for Reading