HARVARD — The Parks and Recreation Commission is reevaluating how it manages its beach operations budget after issues arise with keeping track of payments for sailing lessons offered at Bare Hill Pond.
The commission, which operates the town beach on a revolving fund with revenues from swimming and sailing lessons, reviewed its budget status Monday night. Member Steve Gordon said he found $500 in anticipated revenue that is still outstanding.
Beach director Ali Luck explained that the missing revenue is from a waiting list of students who wanted to take sailing classes, but could not because the beach does not have enough instructors and equipment.
“I honestly think the problem is that we didn’t catch that,” she said.
Gordon said he wasn’t aware that there was a wait list.
“I just hate to give up that $500 in revenue because we didn’t plan properly,” he said.
The other issue was five people who had not yet paid for sailing lessons, although the lessons in the summer’s third session are already happening.
Gordon said the problem is a management issue, arguing that the commission had communicated to Luck that she needs to keep track of who has paid.
“Now here we are on Session 3, a week into it, and it hasn’t been done again,” he said.
Gordon also argued that he had been asking for data from Luck for the past 30 days, such as information on class instructors, job function by hour and class sizes.
“I’ve literally been requesting it for six weeks and I just don’t have it,” he said.
He said he did receive a packet of information three hours before the meeting that he did not know what to do with. He asked Luck why she gave him the information in three to four different formats.
Luck explained that the format requested does not work with the way the computer system operates.
“I could give you that snapshot for one day, but it would be one day,” she said. “Or I would have to do that for every single day.”
Gordon asked her to clarify some information reflected in the report, wondering who would be teaching a Level 1 class and how many students are in it. Luck showed him, but Gordon asked why she couldn’t compile all the information in a spreadsheet.
“I have no idea what that means,” he said, referencing the papers in the thick report.
Luck argued that the main problem is she does not have time to compile the information that way.
“You can’t put it on one piece of paper?” he asked.
“I haven’t had time to do that,” she said.
Gordon argued he has been asking for the information for six weeks, although Luck said he hadn’t been asking for this specific information for that long.
Gordon also reviewed the $34,710 allocated to the payroll budget, highlighting that money for payroll could be in the negatives by the end of the season. Through August, Gordon estimated there will probably be about $300 left over for payroll.
“We’re teetering on jumping into the red very, very soon, depending on how the next payroll comes out,” he said.
But the way the budget is reading, he said, he does not think it will end up being in the red because there is no overtime.
Chair Wyona Lynch-McWhite suggested the issue become liaison work to identify a resolution for fixing the whole budgeting process.
Harbormaster Bob O’Shea said he did not think the commission needs to have as much pressure on itself to stay on budget.
“To me if the number goes over, the town pays more,” he said. “And this town, just like paying for the school, would be willing to pay a fortune more to keep this pond running with the right number of lifeguards. You just need to diligently present the town how much more money you need, and you’re going to get it.”
But Gordon argued that when he came on the commission, it lost about $30,000 from the previous year’s revolving fund due to mismanagement of the beach.
Lynch-McWhite also said the stress on the budget could be a response to a very firm message committee members received last year about going over in payroll amount.
“Perhaps if we are shown a different leniency we won’t feel that pressure,” she said. “But like everyone has heard, we have to manage it well and we’re trying to.”
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