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Revenue Authority Details Use of Free Golf Benefit

Records show one person used about 70 percent of the free golf rounds played by Revenue Authority board members over the last two years.

A release of records related to the number of free golf rounds given to Baltimore County Revenue Authority board members and employees shows that one member—Merreen Kelly—has played 781 rounds of golf in the last two years. Kelly's rounds account for more than 70 percent of all the free golf played by the five-member board in 2010 and 2011.

But documents released by the authority under a Maryland Public Information Act request show that free golf rounds for board members made up just 8 percent of the more than 13,700 courtesy rounds played in 2010 and 2011.

In June, William "Lynnie" Cook, chief executive of the authority, asked the board to approve a change in the policy governing free or so-called courtesy rounds of golf for board members.

Prior to the change, board members were allowed to play unlimited rounds without charge on the county's five public golf courses. Cook billed the policy change as a revenue enhancement measure and asked the members to agree to limit the free rounds to just eight per week. Those free golf rounds extend to guests of the board members.

Cook did not, at the time, provide details of the number of rounds played by each board member, but the request called attention to the issue.

A number of board members voluntarily disclosed or attempted to estimate the number of rounds they had played. Cook initially denied a request made by Patch for documents pertaining to the number of rounds. The authority recently agreed to release the documents after Patch filed a second request.

Free golf rounds for authority board members. Source: Baltimore County Revenue Authority Name 2010 2011 Total Joseph Blair 3 8 11 Donald Hutchinson 43 47 90 Merreen Kelly 539 242 781 Leslie Pittler 131 69 200 Hanan Sibel 11 4 15 Total 727 370 1097

Cook, in his email accompanying the document release, said free rounds of golf to employees and board members totaled 66 percent of the free rounds in the last two years.

He also made note of the number of rounds played by Kelly.

"What the system does not show is that approximately 40 percent of his complimentary rounds were rounds played as a member of a golf league that he brought over from the Worthington Valley Golf Course," Cook wrote. "The league averages 28 paying players every week for 28 weeks a year (or approximately 1,500 rounds over the same two-year period). As an established league, Mr. Kelly’s group is also required to pay an additional $5 fee per tee time. Given that his group is comprised solely of senior players, the Authority will gross over $50,000 from the league."

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K Blue October 30, 2011 at 01:24 AM
It's no wonder that this member was not forthcoming with his free rounds. Holy mackerel! 781 free rounds in under 2 years? That's absolutely ridiculous and an abuse of privilege. This guy should be on the professional tour by now. We cannot allot money to air condition schools, but this guy gets to play 781 free rounds? We lost out on all of that revenue that could have been set aside to purchase additional land for schools, parks, etc. The lifetime free round benefit for members that passed without so much of a whimper this year needs to be repealed, and the County Executive, if he is to retain faith in what he says about pinching pennies and sharing the pain, needs to persuade the Chairman to make sure that is the case. Its all empty talk otherwise. In addition, this member should be reporting these 781 free rounds on his taxes unless there is some documentation that the 781 rounds used by this member were undertaken solely to fulfill some fiduciary duty as a member.
Rita Weber October 30, 2011 at 02:25 AM
If they have all this free time to golf, then they have a lot of free time to sit in the classrooms with the children during those hot, humid days of spring and summer. Save the money for those free rounds of golf and put it towards the air conditioning the schools need to provide the children with a comfortable environment to LEARN!!
Tim October 30, 2011 at 03:25 AM
seconded. Nice county management. Corrupt much?
Buck Pompadour April 16, 2012 at 02:57 PM
I have worked for BCRA for 5 yrs at one of their golf courses. I make $7.50 an hr and my only benefit is free golf. We havent had a raise in my 5 yrs. 9-10 hr days, 3 days a week. No OT. Drive to work, and told to go home because of low traffic that day. No pay for your trouble( my gas and time isn't free) . It is all about the operations budget. All of us are retired ,on disabilty pay or Social Security. Due to this report of "free golf", many of the golf courses "seasonal workers' are being threatened with a loss of our only benefit. You have to work X amount of hrs per wk or you can't play. A golf course like Graystone has to be a money loser but it is the showcase of the 5. That's where most of the money goes toward propping up losers...

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