Union County Golf Operations lost at least $11.25 million in 2012

By John Bury | January 27, 2013

Officially Union County claimed to have made a profit of $680,853 in 2012 but the check registries tell a different story.

Kemper Sports Management (KSM), a private company, manages county golf operations primarily so most golf workers (though not the head of golf operations) no longer get the gold-plated pension and heath insurance benefits that come with public employment.  The county kindly posts their check registries on www.ucnj.org so it’s a simple matter to check how much KSM and the other golf vendors got paid in 2012.  As for income figures, we must believe the county since there is no revenue registry.

For KSM that number came to $4,224,630.76 that they got from the county in 2012 for all services, including construction management.

Even though KSM manages the courses the county still picks up a lot of expenses.  For 2012 that came to $609,884.75 including $300,000 paid to the Union County Improvement Authority for something called ” Start Up Funds for Golf”.

Then there’s that building going on around Exit 138 of the Parkway.  Since the county is not listing any amortization figure for 2012 we have to assume that the full cost of the new clubhouse applies to the year in which Claremont Construction, campaign donor to UC Democratic candidates, is being paid – $10,461,698.28 in 2012 alone.

Interestingly enough the county says the cost of utilities were $159,036 for both courses in 2012 though when they wanted to close down Oak Ridge in 2009 they estimated (i.e. lied about) the cost of utilities for Oak Ridge alone as being $200,000.  Is it the solar panels?

Put it all together and it comes to a net loss of $11,249,362.79 for 2012 with many, many more red numbers coming, especially with the UCIA’s involvement – right Linden taxpayers?




16 Responses to “Union County Golf Operations lost at least $11.25 million in 2012”

  1. Javagold says:

    2 + 2 = 5

  2. bear1957 says:

    i agree with your figures as far as kemper goes, but i dont know what you mean by gold plated pension,and health insurance. i have figured out what my pension will be, and i gotta tell ya there’s nothing gold plated about it. a mere 1,642.00 now i dont know about you but most people can just about survive on that kind of money now,this is what im looking at in 7 years from now. so please dont insult me and throw me into a group that makes ridiculous money. i am a worker not a director.

  3. John Bury says:


    You might be right if governments continue to renege on their promises (see NJ COLA theft) but comparing benefits, on paper, in the public to the private sector is a no-brainer as to who wins out. Try to get a private-sector employer to guarantee you health insurance for life or even set up a Defined Benefit pension plan. Only where you get to elect who you negotiate with that it’s even possible these days though when the true costs become obvious we’ll see what kind of guarantee they come with.

  4. Jeff Arnold says:

    Pitchforks and torches are the only way to solve this mess.

  5. Joe Renna says:

    Journalism at it’s best.

  6. Bob says:

    We need to get rid of the county freeloaders. This county government is too costly and needs to go as does the golf course. We do need to get rid of this dead weight and let the towns and state take over.

  7. Peter Scull says:

    Very timely comment, Joe.

    Another issue with the reporting of the golf numbers for 2012: Their Net Income figures show GH at $707,310 and AB at $381,953 for a combined total of $1,089,263. However, the Combined Summary Income Statement only shows Net Income of $680,853. $408,410 LESS. My question….. where is the 400 grand?? MusicFest revisited? Nah, they wouldn’t, would they?

  8. John Bury says:

    Good point, Pete but I didn’t go into detail on the breakdowns beyond the totals page. I would think the revenue numbers were also supplied by Kemper since they collect the money and they have an incentive to inflate them. We will have to wait for the 2012 budget numbers to see what revenue they report from golf there but, for now.

    As to the difference, the EBITDA numbers total at $1,333,427 but for Ash Brook they have the other Expenses as $0 and left off from the individual breakdowns the UC Salaries and Utilities amounts which total $408,410. Probably a spreadsheet error though they may be thinking about closing Ash Brook too and might fill in those amounts to whatever might suit their purpose.

  9. Brian P Keane says:

    One of the No Shows died last year got a nice stipend salary with health benefits. Even had his nametag on the back seat in the freeholders chambers.

  10. Daniel Shays says:

    Brian Campbell wrote a nice piece on Union County Government & their self-aggrandizement especially relating to the new Taj Mahal being built at Galloping Hill in the latest Sunday edition of the Star-Ledger.


  11. G. Albritton says:

    As pointed out here the cost of the new clubhouse at Galloping Hill affects not these absurd “profit”numbers. No amortization, no debt service, no nothing as far as any recognition of how much this monstrosity has cost and will cost the taxpayers of Union County.

    Perhaps the one virtue in the May 2012 Mareth Advisors report concerning the UCIA takeover of the County golf operations was its factoring in some modest debt financing in its calculations, however otherwise flawed, of the costs of those operations. Apparently Mareth couldn’t bring itself to falsify the numbers like the County does. On page 21, Mareth assumed a 20 year term at a low 3 percent on a much lower number than the now estimated total cost and stated that the annual financing cost would total “just under $900,000 per year”. This real cost was deferred in 2012 by use of bond anticipation note financing and pushed into future years, but realistically that 2012 “profit” of $680K should be actually a net loss of over $220K for this reason alone. So much for the “turnaround” of golf operations — it’s more like the Union Countygolf operations have been “run aground” by these losers.

  12. Mark Boehme says:

    Let me join others in saying that this is what journalism is all about. Amazing how much information I get from this website, despite it not having the resources of a larger news organization. Keep up the excellent work!

  13. Michael Pierone says:

    Since when did running Golf Courses become a function of government? Aren’t there private companies that run golf courses? While many local governments are starting to look into privatizing functions like garbage collection, Union County thinks that taxpayers should be forced to fund leisure activities? What about the owners of private golf courses in the county, how onerous to have to pay taxes to fund your competition! Of course the county loses money, what incentive is there for them to do otherwise, the suckers,uh I mean taxpayers have an endless supply of money don’t they?

  14. Brian P Keane says:

    I heard that there is going to be a concert after UC opens the brand new Golf Glub in Gallopinghill Kenilworth/Union.
    Several bands festivities food beverages will be featured.
    ps, Have you ever walked into the Ursino Hall off Liberty
    Plaza,very exclusive place..

  15. Javagold says:

    This is Fascism

  16. Jeff Arnold says:

    On a side note, the County reportedly spent $250k on a new greenhouse in the Demonstration Garden in the Watchung Reservation.