Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Toledo city pools - catering to the 2%

The City of Toledo is considering moving the Recreation Department out of the embattled Department of Neighborhoods and into the Department of Public Service. They think it may save money.

Why the city is in the business of providing 'recreation' - or if it should be - is a question Toledo City Council members rarely consider.

Many, including my District Council rep, Lindsay Webb, truly believe that providing pools for kids to swim in and other types of recreation/entertainment are clearly a function of government.

I disagree - not only on principle as a believer in limited government - but also on a fiscal basis. Our city is constantly raising fees (red-light and speed cameras, trash tax, etc...) while facing deficits. We just don't have the money.

But on a principle basis, the claim is that these types of programs provide "quality of life" for residents. The problem is, they provide a certain benefit for some, at the expense of all. And simply saying that "all" have the "opportunity" to take advantage of them doesn't negate the fact that my quality of life is diminished by having to pay for recreation/entertainment I neither like nor want, but that is forced upon me by a significant few.

An analysis I did in 2008 showed that even under the best of scenarios, the city pools serve less than 7% of the youth population and, since we know that adults also visit the pools, less than 2% of the total population of the city.

Why are we spending money to serve less than 2% of the residents? And why would council members claim that the entire city's quality of life is enhanced by a 'service' that caters to less than 2%? Certainly the taxation of 100% in order to serve 2% isn't logical and doesn't enhance the 'quality of life' of the remaining 98%. As many of the same council members who promote this logic also supported the OccupyToledo group, you'd think they'd understand this concept.

These same council members also talk about how pools and other youth entertainment help reduce crime. However, I have yet to see a single one of them provide a single study or shred of evidence that such is the case anywhere, much less here in Toledo.

The bottom line is that they want to provide pools, so they do. That the vast majority of the public doesn't want our limited tax dollars so expended is countered by an emotional appeal to our 'quality of life.' Yet even that attempt at logic falls short with just a cursory examination.

My quality of life is negatively impacted so that council can - maybe - enhance the quality of life of the 2%. Sadly, Toledo city council members don't understand that providing a quality of life service for some means a lack of quality of life for most.

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