Pools don't pay

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, July 21, 2005

I have a news flash for the "Fantastic Four" (Jeff Bush, Marc Wheeler, Dan Peterson and Stan Ridgeway). I'm a voter, property owner and taxpayer. I am fully capable of making an informed decision at the ballot box. Lumping bad projects in with good ones goes on enough in Congress, and we don't need to do it at the local level. If a project can't stand on its own merits, it shouldn't be done.

When you look at all the proposals on their own, all but the aquatic center will pay their own way.

The added costs of operation of the sewer expansion will be paid for by the properties served in the form of user fees.

Expansion of the airport will allow more space to be rented out to recover operational costs. The same goes for the harbors. Those users already pay all the operational costs and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.

But the aquatic center. Here you are looking at a deficit in operational costs of over three-quarters of a million dollars a year. We already subsidize the Augustus Brown swimming pool by over $400,000 a year. Now you are talking in excess of a million dollars a year to operate two pools, neither of which will pay their own way.

Where do those operating costs come from? You guessed it, property taxes. The extended sales tax will build these projects, but the operational costs will come from user fees and property taxes. User fees at the pool, Eaglecrest Ski Area and the skating rink fall far short of paying these costs, so the property owner picks up the tab. Once again, the many paying for the few.

Separate these projects on the ballot and let the voters decide which ones make sense. I strongly disagree with Jeff Bush that the voters won't support any of these projects. The voters have a long history of supporting sewer expansion as well as airport and harbor improvements, and I see no reason for that to change.

Let's take care of the basics that serve everyone, and leave the frills to those that ultimately will pay for it over and over again. Trust me, I'm a voter.

John Niemi


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