Casper City Manager Favors Lease With Business Despite Past Financial Problems
Casper City Council will vote Tuesday to sign a lease with a business to run the 19th Hole restaurant at the city-owned Municipal Golf Course, even though the business's owner has in recent years filed for bankruptcy, had collections actions taken against him, and has an outstanding lien for failure to pay unemployment insurance taxes.
City Manager Carter Napier said neither he nor the managers of the parks and recreation department knew of these issues with Cowboy Smokehouse, LLC, nor do they run background checks, with the exception of liquor licenses and sales tax, on businesses with leases or potential leases with the city.
"We're not given that kind of latitude to really curtail a relationship that weren't related to performance," Napier said.
He probably won't raise the financial issues with Cowboy Smokehouse and its owner Pat Munsell when Council meets to vote, he said. "If it's not a product or service kind of issue, I don't think I'll get too hung up on it."
The city's lease with Cowboy Smokehouse will run for three years and the city will receive 3 percent of gross receipts per month for the first year, 4 percent for the second year, and 5 percent for the third year, according to the council's agenda.
Cowboy Smokehouse is owned by Patrick Munsell, who also has owned other businesses in recent years.
The downturn in the economy hit him hard, he said Tuesday.
In April 2014, Munsell filed for Chapter 7 (liquidation) bankruptcy protection. The debts were discharged in August 2016, according to bankruptcy records.
Listed liabilities included $118,000 in sales taxes owed to the State of Wyoming and possible personal liability for nearly $1.4 million to a welding company, with total liabilities approaching $2.0 million.
Assets amounted to $330,000.
About $1.4 million in claims were discharged without payment.
During the proceedings, bankruptcy trustee Randy Royal filed a lawsuit against Munsell and his wife for allegedly transferring four vehicles with the intent to defraud creditors. The trustee and the Munsells reached a settlement, and they were making payments.
According to Natrona County District Court records, Judge Thomas Sullins on Oct. 12, 2017, signed a judgment against Munsell and his business MIS Industrial Supply, LLC, -- a successor to Patrick Munsell Photography, LLC -- for nearly $99,000 for unpaid sales taxes to the State of Wyoming.
According to Natrona County Circuit Court records, several businesses won judgments against Munsell in 2015 and 2017. Among those was a judgment in favor of Weinrich's Frozen Food Lockers against Cowboy Smokehouse.
And the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services Unemployment Tax division filed a lien against Cowboy Smokehouse for $8,200 in the Natrona County Clerk's Office in April 2016. There is no record of the state releasing that lien.
Munsell attributed his financial issues to the economic downturn, he said. "It pulled us down, and nobody was paying the bill. We've got $700,000 on the books we'll never collect."
These past issues are just that, in the past, he said. "We've got to move forward."
Munsell said he's been in good standing with the Wyoming Revenue Department, meets with an official there to make sure he remains that way, and makes payments every month, he said.
Munsell ran the operations at the Alcova Marina last year, which impressed the city that has had him operate the 19th Hole since February, he said.
He has done a good job at the 19th Hole and will continue to do so, he said.
City Manager Napier agreed.
He could run a business into the ground because of past issues like Munsell has had, but many other businesses have suffered similar fates because of the downturn, Napier said. "A lot of businesses in this community have found ways to reinvigorate their options, and I kind of view Pat in the same fashion."