Why did the beach revenue decline?

images (8).jpgAccording to the city’s draft budget for fiscal year 2018/19, there is a predicted $77,124 decrease in beach parking, marina, and boat launching activities from fiscal year 2015/16 to 2017/18. There is an actual decrease of $146,472 in the first ten months of fiscal year 2017/18.  The predicted 2020 budget shows an overall decrease of $42,124 in beach revenue from 2016. This four-year decrease of income is after all the clamor of increasing tourism due to the costly downtown redevelopment project and last year’s increase in the daily beach parking fee from $10 to $12 that the city employees requested.  Should we be asking if there is an actual decrease in revenue generated or is there a decrease in revenue making it to city hall? Park Budget Page

In 2013, the New Buffalo City Clerk was convicted of embezzling $92,000 of beach revenue over a two-year period from fees collected at the beach parking lot and boat launch.  After this incident, the city’s insurance provider, the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority (MMRMA) worked with Police Chief Larry Pitchford on developing policies and then funded a security surveillance system that included audio video cameras that were placed in the business offices at city hall to monitor employee activities.

Through an ethics complaint and several lawsuits centered around the surveillance cameras monitoring inappropriate employee activity, the city employees somehow convinced the city council to first disconnect the audio surveillance oversight and then to move all the equipment oversight from the police department to the employees who were supposed to be monitored.  It is anyone’s guess if the cameras are active. A change in policy earlier this year that was promoted by the employees who are supposed to be monitored, was adopted by the city council, allowing the employees to destroy video recordings after 30 days.    The changes took the city back to pre 2013 conditions.

Recently, City Manager Dave Richards pulled the plug on the  audio and video recording of city council meetings.  Since January 1, 2018, the residents are being kept in the dark. Special meetings are held the day after they are announced, with employees only providing sketchy details about the reason for these meetings.  When there is a requirement for employees to post a public notice, sometimes the announcement is sent to the Detroit Free Press for publication.  The city council was manipulated by their employees who successfully gained control of both the information leaving city hall and the monitoring of their own activities.

Why would the beach revenues be dropping after a multi million dollar downtownimages (1) revision?  Instead of being concerned about keeping the meetings short, Mayor O’Donnell and the other council members should spend some time asking the employees some hard questions.  Of course, due to City Manager Richards pulling the plug on recording the council meetings, even if the council members asked the questions, we would never hear the answers.

FYI:  In Tuesday’s council packet, Street Supervisor Tony Ashbaugh is requesting $15,000 to contract with a lawn service to provide mowing at the parks.  The first question is why is the street supervisor instead of the park supervisor making this request?  The second question should be, why doesn’t the city provide a part-time summer job to a city resident instead?  I would mow the grass during the summer for $15,000.    Request for mowing.jpg




9 thoughts on “Why did the beach revenue decline?

  1. Susan Gotfried Post author

    I ‘think’ that when the city manager hired the employee who embezzled from the city, he did not ‘think’ she would steal from the city since she was promoted from deputy clerk to clerk. A business should always put policy before personalities. If the council members believe that they don’t have to worry about employee security because they ‘think’ their employees are trustworthy, they will be to blame if there is embezzlement due to weakening public safety safeguards. Isn’t it always the case that when there is embezzlement, everyone always says, but he/she was always such a nice person. Perhaps the council members sleep well at night because they don’t look too deep at the policies they are doing away with and they don’t worry about the reason park revenues are dropping instead of increasing.

  2. Resident

    “I heard the city ….” “my understanding ….” “I suspect” ….
    How do you sleep with all these Straw Men wondering the streets?

  3. Susan Gotfried Post author

    I heard that the city just purchased a new mowing attachment for their new tractor. Why do that if they are going to contract out the work? Wasteful government spending? Or is there another use for the mowing attachment?

  4. Susan Gotfried Post author

    I was just kidding when I said that I would submit a bid. I don’t need the money but I expect there are many local residents who could use a summer part-time job plus the $15,000, sometimes even teachers like to have a summer job. It is odd that the street and park administrators can’t find employees willing to work for them. I suspect that the hiring process might require the process to be non partial unlike a contractual agreement that goes to the lowest bidder arnd can be a friend of a member of the administrative team or maybe a member of the administrative team might have a controlling interest in the contracted company. I am not accusing anyone of embezzling, just that the administrative staff has taken away all the safe guards at city hall allowing for easy fraud. But if there is a person who collects and counts the money, like the person in 2013 who was convicted of embezzling, then that person is a good possibility since the revenues year to date are over $100,000 less than in 2016. My understanding is that the policy changed after that incident so most likely, there hasn’t been any hand counting at city hall.

  5. Resident

    Your last sentence suggests you will be submitting a bid for this contract. It is refreshing to see you finally offering to help instead of constantly complaining. I look forward to finding every blade of grass you miss. (I’m just kidding. We all know you can’t do anything constructive.)
    Could you please elaborate and tell us which employee you are accusing of stealing the money from the beach parking?

  6. Susan Gotfried Post author

    It use to be a practice of city government to try to provide jobs for the tax payers but now Street Supervisor Ashbaugh tries to get city services contracted out to businesses instead of people. He must like to feed the middle man and not provide direct supervision.

  7. olddog5

    suggest putting this out for bids to any and all residents of New Buffalo. Keep some of the summer vandals busy. who will do this bid solicitianing…

  8. Susan Gotfried Post author

    More than likely Tony knows a contractor interested in providing the service. If there are no lifeguards and they contract all the park upkeep, who is the Park Supervisor supervising?

  9. Ray

    I’m pretty sure one of Tony’s buds will get the mowing gig. Also, the last Planning Commission meeting lasted all of 8 minutes. Nothing should be surprising around here.

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