Yes, Tax Increases as a Default Solution

Which is the answer to the question the Sacramento Bee editorial poses “is anything sadder than padlocked pools”.

The other answer presented by the editorial, to give money to the government nonprofit, doesn’t work so well since people have became somewhat questioning with government’s ability to manage money and public services efficiently.

What is instead called for here, and noted in the editorial, is an encouragement of local groups—nonprofit, profit, or otherwise—to adopt local parks and recreational facilities and, according to their ability and resources and still provided a certain baseline funding from government, take care of valuable recreational resources for the enjoyment of the adjacent community of support.

An excerpt from the editorial.

“Swim time is almost over at Sacramento’s public pools.

“Only six of 13 city pools opened this summer, and they’ll all be closed for the season by Labor Day. Next summer, only three pools are to open. In a city of 466,000, that’s a disgrace even in these hard times.

“City Hall needs all the help it can get to keep pools open. But by not asking loudly enough and by not making donations easier, the city is missing out on a potential lifeline.

“Jonathan Rewers, chairman of the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission, says the city needs to do a better job of telling the community that public pools are a “vital service.” They are also smart policy: If kids aren’t frolicking in pools, they could be getting in trouble on the street.

“This is a prime opportunity for a civic-minded corporation to make a sizable gift that would buy priceless good will. Some feelers have gone out, but with no success.

“The city also ought to have a formal matching donation program. If a neighborhood association raises a significant sum – say at least half the $100,000 it costs to run a city pool for a year – the city should come up with the rest.

“Rewers says the city needs to better publicize the donation programs that do exist.

“Gifts to Share, the city’s 26-year-old nonprofit partner, is the conduit through which residents, businesses and community groups can support parks and recreation, cultural, education and neighborhood improvement projects. More than $1.2 million went through it last year….

“Rewers and other parks advocates are pushing for a citywide property tax assessment for parks maintenance, including pools, on the 2012 ballot. Residents would get to decide how important keeping up parks and keeping open pools is to them.”

A rather devastating response is within this letter to the Sacramento Bee editor today.

“First, cut pool costs

“According to the city, it costs $22,000 per season to operate a wading pool. Water, electricity and chemicals account for $8,000. It costs $14,000 to train and provide a lifeguard, based on 35 hours a week.

“Before asking neighborhood groups to raise funds for pools, a reality check is in order. My swimming pool is eight times the size of a city wading pool and it costs $2,000 for pool service and electricity for a year. With the average pay of a lifeguard at $12 per hour, a season’s pay is less than $3,500. There seems to be exceptionally high management overhead.

“I’d love to contribute, but would think twice if the city set the fundraising bar at inflated costs. The city needs a new management model before asking the community to chip in to fund the costs of pool operations.

– Cecily Hastings, Sacramento”

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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