$54,000 in 4 years and Nobody seems to Care!
An interesting article appeared in the Daily Item on Sunday August 4th 2013. In it were comments from Mayor Persing and Councilman Eister regarding losses of “a few dollars” at the Swimming Pool Snack Bar.
However, our research indicates that the losses were much, much more than a few dollars. According to the City’s own published figures for revenues and expenditures, the Snack Bar lost $10,523.80 in 2010, $12,980.58 in 2011 and $15,321.20 in 2012.
From the article, it appears that the Daily Item were given figures for Snack Bar wages differing significantly from those in City accounts – figures which they appear to have accepted at face value without any attempt at verification. According to the Daily Item, wages were $17,090 in 2011 and $13,488 in 2012.
Discrepancies in Published Accounts
However, according to the published City statements of revenues and expenditures, the figures were $30,506.07 in 2011 and $30,928.85 in 2012. Why is there such a large discrepancy? Indeed, at the City Meeting of August 26th, Councilman Eister did state that the figures in the official accounts were incorrect !
Incorrect? What kind of way is this to treat City taxpayers – to knowingly publish accounts which are incorrect? What else could be hidden away in there?
Last December it was agreed to phase out the Snack Bar in June of this year. However, at a hastily convened “public” meeting which took place at 8:00 am on the morning of December 26th – at a time calculated to drastically limit public attendance and participation – a new budget was presented in which the snack bar had been reinserted, despite this same budget showing a projected loss for 2013 of $15,000, similar to the levels of 2012.
This spring, Councilman Eister was given permission at a City meeting to hire a total of 14 part time employees for the Snack Bar. We would like very much to see the scheduling for these employees. Why does the Snack Bar need so many when there is probably room for no more than 2 or 3 people to work there at any given time?
We have some other questions too!
How many people are employed to man the concession stands at the city-owned David L Persing Sports Complex during the softball tournaments?
Who pays their wages?
Where do the supplies for the Sports Complex concession stands come from?
To whom are they billed?
Are they running at a profit?
If they are not being run by and for the benefit of the City, then why not?
When questioned at the recent City meeting, on August 26th, Councilman Eister seemed to regard the possible loss of $54,000 over the course of 4 years as something not to be taken too seriously. He asked audience members and also Councilman Bartello if they would like to take over the Snack Bar and show him how it should be done. Every tax-paying citizen should watch this video (below) if only to see the flippant way in which this administration appears to view the management and safeguarding of their tax dollars.
Employee Food Theft
Now we turn to something else mentioned in the Daily Item – food theft! They quoted Councilman Eister as saying that warnings had been issued to (unspecified) City employees “who may have been or were thinking about eating on the city’s dime”. Warnings? Many employers would view such dishonesty as a matter for summary dismissal.
How could employees even get food there without paying?
Who would give it to them?
Was there no system of supervisory controls in place?
Did those in charge of the Department of Parks and Recreation even know this could be happening?
If not, then why not?
How many employees were involved? It would be hard to believe that it could only be one or two!
Is there any truth in the rumor of a freezer “malfunction” in the Snack Bar – a freezer filled with pizzas?
It has never been our wish to see the pool closed down. It does provide a wonderful amenity for the summer holidays, and is a very popular destination for Sunburians and others on hot days. Perhaps the Snack Bar is not losing money but, that being the case, why are the wage figures on the official accounts so inflated?
If it is indeed costing the City money, then why not bid it out in the form of a franchise? Maybe the deal could be sweetened by including all the Sports Complex concession stands too! If a deal can not be concluded, how can the Snack Bar remain open in light of its on-going losses?
We would welcome a response from the City administration, and will happily publish their full and detailed replies to the above questions.
The subject of the Snack Bar is symptomatic of much more serious failings in the management of our City. How can this administration possibly run a city with an annual budget in excess of $4 million when, it appears, they can’t even run a snack bar at the swimming pool? This is a point which all should ponder prior to casting their votes in November.