Country club has until end of January to solve...
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Nov 10, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

Country club has until end of January to solve financial troubles

Stratford Gazette

Jeff Heuchert

The Stratford Country Club has signed a forbearance agreement with its banking institution that gives the cash-strapped organization until the end of January 2015 to resolve its current financial troubles.

Speaking with the Gazette Friday, Nov. 7, country club president, Mark Straus, called this latest development "extremely positive." The agreement means the club, which is owned by members and governed by a board of directors, avoids possible foreclosure by the bank and now has approximately 90 days to investigate options for full repayment of its mortgage and operating line of credit, as well as other outstanding debts including unpaid municipal taxes.

"The board is confident that a solution will be found (by the deadline)," said Straus.

In an email to club members that same day, the board president said the bank feels much more comfortable with the club's financial situation given that members have come forward to inject money for operations short-term until a remedy to pay back its debts is found.

"The bank has made it clear they are not willing to put forth any more funds for operations. In return, they have agreed to 'cap' our line of credit and allow funds from members, funds from functions, funds from outstanding accounts, and funds from curling and squash memberships to be deposited into our account without risk of these funds being seized."

Straus added that the Canada Revenue Agency has indicated that as long as accruing remittances and HST obligations are met, it will not pursue collection and will wait to be paid until the club is sold.

"This is great news for us!!," Straus wrote to members.

While the full extent of the money troubles at the country club may not be clear, some details have come to light in recent weeks. In a series of emails to members beginning Oct. 12, Straus indicated that the board was working with consultants to address "financial irregularities as well as determine the actual financial position of the Stratford Country Club."

He also revealed that some members' credit cards had been charged in error by the country club over the last year.

The Stratford Police Service has confirmed that the country club is the subject of an ongoing investigation, but hasn't revealed any details as to the nature of the case.

In one message to members, Straus said the board had received an accounting report regarding financial transactions and was reviewing cash flow demands of operations on a weekly basis.

"The board now confirms that we have a severe financial difficulty," he added.

Executive members of the board held a members' only meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 5 to present the club's financial position and options. Without getting into details, Straus told the Gazette the meeting was very well attended and that the response from members was "very positive."

Last week staffing was reduced at the country club, and Straus confirmed that some individuals who had a room booked for an event had to reschedule at a different venue.

As of this week, all functions are going ahead as scheduled, and curling and squash activities will also proceed, he added.

Still, the impact of the club's troubles is noticeable. In his latest email Straus indicated that two curling club members had stepped up to cover the cost for an ice technician. They will be reimbursed with $60 from every curling club member.

The board expects to update members further either today (Monday, Nov. 10) or tomorrow.

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