The Lucas County Commissioners have announced that they will no longer be booking events at the Lucas County Rec Center, though will they honor events scheduled there through June, 2009.
(WSPD story and audio, and Toledo Blade story)
The reason, they claim, is financial. The buildings, including the roofs, need between $750,000 to $1 million in repairs and, with the County facing declining revenue and laying off people, there is no money to pay for it.
Now, the funds for making these repairs would come from the County's Capital Improvement Program (CIP) - not from the general fund which is where the layoffs are coming from. And I know for a fact that the repairs at the Rec Center were on the CIP plan when I was a commissioner. Usually, items get placed on the list and move up as other projects are completed.
The problem isn't that the County doesn't have the money - it's that they're spending it elsewhere - namely, on the new arena.
Does anyone besides me find it rather disconcerting that the County cannot maintain the Rec Center, but they're building a new arena which will also have to be maintained?
Does anyone besides me wonder why we're spending our CIP money on an arena when we've not yet completed the items on the CIP list?
Does anyone besides me wonder where the County will get the money to repay the $18.5 million they've already borrowed to pay for the arena - or where they're going to find the additional $25 million in extra costs (original cost estimate was $80 million and is now $105 million)?
Is it likely that needs detailed in the CIP are being pushed aside in order to construct a shiny new arena? And, if so, is this the right priority?
Each person may have their own answers to these questions, but the fact that they aren't being discussed in public should send a warning to all County residents.