To the Editor:
To introduce myself, I am one of the over dozen people who was part of the Resorts & Clubs, Inc.,/John Meeske Group, brought to Atwood Resort by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) in what was described as an attempt to either sell the property in order to pay off its approximately $2.5 million debt or turn around its operating history of many years of “losses.” This group never represented itself to be capable of buying or intending to buy Atwood Resort, but continued as consultants to devise a plan for the MWCD to implement to attract prospects for the operation “pieces: of the resort.
After gathering and reviewing a significant amount of information and documents, it is my opinion this property’s historical financial problems ultimately are the fault of the MWCD and its past operations and not fulfilling fiduciary duties. This cannot be understood or handled in one letter, it is still too complex, so I am going to raise a series of questions to the general public that should be answered by the MWCD since they operate with public assessment dollars and supposedly for the public benefit.
The first two questions are:
1.) Did the operation actually “lose money?” Many of the losses are particularly a matter of accounting. When one arm of the MWCD charges on paper an exorbitant amount for water for the lodge, which it never attempts to collect, has an expense/loss occurred? If the utility expenses as shown on the financial statements historically exceed $30-$40 per occupied room night, and management did not change how it operated the property, why did management not take steps to address this matter? No well-run hotel has utility bills approaching $30-$40 per room night.
2.) If you have attempted to sell the property and no one bid, why would you not meet immediately with the county auditor to reduce the real estate taxes? Very reasonable since our team met with him and he told us what was required to allow him to reduce the real estate taxes. Yes, this sounds like another $50,000 per year that did not need to be spent if managed properly. Should someone be asking the MWCD why no one even attempted to cut this expense by making a personal meeting with the auditor?
Charles R. Cherney
Cherney Realty Advisors LLC
Battle Creek, MI