The city of Frederick’s golf club manager has spent thousands of city dollars advertising his private clinics and camps at the golf course, but the city has not been reimbursed for all of the costs and does not make any money from the events.
It is unclear how much exactly Donald Frost, Clustered Spires Golf Club manager and director of golf, has failed to repay during his 19 years with the city.
Frost receives all profits from the private events he hosts at the course, which include lessons, clinics, schools and camps. He is required to reimburse the city for all expenses related to advertising the private events, according to his contract with the city.
The Frederick News-Post reviewed newspaper ads for Clustered Spires published in the newspaper since August 2013 and found that five of the 10 ads mentioned Frost’s private events. The city does not have record of receiving reimbursement for the cost of those ads, which was $1,994.61, according to data the city provided The News-Post in response to a Maryland Public Information Act request.
The city has spent $75,427.05 on 331 radio or newspaper ads for public and private events at Clustered Spires since July 2009, the data show. In that time period, the city has record of receiving a total of $1,092.89 in reimbursements in three separate payments in August 2009, May 2011 and July 2011.
It is unknown how much of the $75,427.05 Frost should have repaid, as the ads were for both private and public events, and Frost is only responsible for reimbursing the city for ads for his private events. Public events include special days at the course such as Oakley Day. The city can’t provide the content of the ads, legal assistant V. Lee Whisner said in her response to the information act request.
The city will not comment on the advertising reimbursements. The city and Frederick Police Department are currently investigating possible theft and management problems at the club, said Frederick Mayor Randy McClement.
The city should have been reimbursed for the advertising costs, McClement said, and if it wasn’t, then the city will see that it is.
Frost wrote in an email that he would like to talk, but is bound by regulations and cannot comment until the city has concluded its investigation.
Frost has not been placed on leave while the city investigates, McClement said.
It is unclear whether the city asked Frost for the money, or if the city is keeping track of which of the advertising costs he is responsible for reimbursing.
Asked who is in charge of reviewing Clustered Spires transactions, including expenses for ads, McClement said he leaves the review of departmental expenses to the department directors. Roelkey Myers is the city’s deputy director of Parks and Recreation, which includes the golf course.
“I’m not sure exactly what the checks and balances are,” McClement said. “Should there be (checks and balances)? The answer is yes.”
The golf course is part of the city’s annual audit, McClement said.
The city’s investigation began in mid-February after Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak gave the police and McClement documents she thinks show possible theft and mismanagement at the club, including cash register receipts, timecard information and advertising expenses.
Since then, city human relations and legal staff have been working with the police department to investigate, said Lt. Clark Pennington, police department spokesman.
“There has been a lot of movement since then,” Pennington said.
Pennington said he does not anticipate the investigation taking much longer. He said he could not be more specific on the timeframe.
McClement has confirmed that part of the city’s investigation includes whether Frost has been reimbursing the city for advertising spots for his private clinics. Overall, city staff is looking into whether city policies were followed.
The city buys an average of 54 Clustered Spires ads a year for an average annual cost of $12,010.89, although the amounts vary greatly each year. The average cost of an ad, some of which run multiple times in the newspaper or on the radio, also vary, but the average city expense was $209.85 in fiscal 2009 and $373.52 in fiscal 2015.
McClement has also confirmed the city is investigating cash register protocol and practices at the club, and whether Frost and other city golf professionals have been holding private lessons and clinics during city work hours.
The police department is gathering information and conducting interviews, he said.
Pennington said he could not share whether golf course employees have been interviewed.
“We conduct very thorough investigations,” he said.
When looking at allegations, he said, clearing people of wrongdoing is just as important as developing a criminal case.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Whisner's title.