Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The real issue of city pools

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I'm a proponent of limited government. I believe that government has a purpose, but a limited one, and that government should stick to those limited tasks.

I also believe that government takes too much money from us in the form of taxes and fees - and they do so in order to 'provide' more than the basic services government should be providing.

So it should come as no surprise that I oppose public funding of pools and recreation under the guise of 'quality of life' or 'for the children' arguments. I'm of the firm opinion that families would be able to provide such 'recreation' for their children if government wasn't taking so much of their money in the first place.

But I am apparently in the minority on that position, as the City of Toledo is again planning on opening the pools because, as the ordinance states, it's important that "citizens in all areas of the city will be able to enjoy aquatic recreational opportunities this summer."

On a positive note, the funding for the pools is coming from donations and the Parks Trust Fund - not the general fund. I'm very glad that community groups and churches have stepped up to fund these activities, though I must admit that one of the sources (a grant from EOPA) is actually tax dollars from the federal government. I believe that this is the proper way to permanently fund these types of things. I believe that other groups might step forward to do the same if the government hadn't taken over the responsibility in the first place.

The total amount to be spent this year (three ordinances are on the agenda) is $136,398. The problem is the number of children to be served.

As I've highlighted in previous posts, the pools serve less than 2% of the population and less than 6% of the children in the city. And the number of users has declined over the last three years.

As calculated in my previous posts, the pools serve roughly 4,700 unique visitors. At that number for this year's funding, it's about $28 per person. For the same amount of money, the city could purchase a year-long membership at the Boys & Girls Club for 27,000+ kids (calculated at the 16-18 year old membership rate of $5, not the 7-15 year old rate of $3). If we really care about kids, why aren't we providing them with year-round activities instead of just a couple of months (depending on weather) of pool access?

But if the city told you that they were going to purchase memberships for kids to a club, would you support the expenditure of those dollars while we're laying off police and not planning on residential road improvements? Probably not.

It's an issue of priorities and Toledo government doesn't have a track record of setting good ones.

Beyond that, it's an issue of responsibilities - it is not the responsibility of taxpayers to provide entertainment and recreation for the children in the city. If you want to do something like that, you make a donation to private organizations who provide those types of services. And if there are private organizations who are willing to fund such activities this year, let's develop a plan by which they will be able to do so every year and get the city out of the business of swimming pools.


Hooda Thunkit (a.k.a. Dave Zawodny) said...

The problem as I see it is that you have a way to clear view of the role of government in our lives, which manifests itself in appproaching the problem in a clearly logical manner.

The REAL problem though is that the vast majority of the Sheeple are too busy ignoring what the politicians are doing to fully appreciate just how much of their liberties they have either willfully given up or freely allowed the government to take away/assume, along with a very large portion of our earned income.

As we should know, government is terrible at delivering anything in a cost efficient manner.

Or, am I misteaken?

Jay Ott said...

As a conservative, I do not believe that the proper function of government is to provide entertainment for citizens, whether it is in the form of athletics, the arts, operating an entertainment venue, or swimming pools. The proper function of government is to maintain law and order in society. Therefore, I support city council's decision of not opening the city's pools due to the budget.

In the press release on this issue, there is a list of various churches who donated money to keep the pools open. I not only have a problem with the city accepting money from churches, but I also have a problem with churches who collect money to entertain people at the expense of fulfilling the Great Commission.

To clarify my position even further, please consider this quotation:

We believe that the church exists from one reason, and one reason only, to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation of sinners. Thus, to use Kurt Marquart's words, "the church, as church, has nothing to say to the state, as state." The church has no call from her Lord to proclaim a social gospel either of the left or of the right. The church, however, through her pastors, does have the responsibility to teach God's Word to her people so that they, in turn, may serve God in the Kingdom of the left as responsible citizens. God instituted worldly government to restrain evil and defend the common good. http://www.mtio.com/articles/bissar55.htm

What is truly hypocritical is some of the same liberals who complain about keeping the Church out of gov't, are the same ones who promote these kinds of partnerships with government. What kind of precedent does this set? What other partnerships like this are coming down the pike? When Martin Luther encountered abuses in the 16th-century, both by temporal and spiritual authorities, he said, "the devil never stops cooking and brewing these two kingdoms into each other."

Pietism is a theological movement that emphasizes subjectivism and the individual. In Pietism, the religion of the heart is placed in opposition to doctrine and theology, or a religion of the head. Because true religion is found in the heart in Pietism, personal devotion and a moral life are prized above the preaching of the Gospel and the Holy Sacraments. http://tinyurl.com/m4wkco

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