Tuesday, November 15, 2011

In Case You Wonder Why We Are Going Broke

Our state accountants are completing their final work on the states books and in spite of so called “deep cuts” the governor said we had, it looks like the last two year budget written and passed will close about $90 million in the red.

This ongoing “Great Recession” government keeps us locked in shows no signs of relenting and apparently, no one in government knows or has the guts to do what is actually needed to get us back out.

Instead, we see more money poured into the Columbia River Crossing Project, hopes of an admissions tax to bring a marginal class A baseball team to town complete with a sparkling new stadium, paid in part with more of our tax dollars all while we had to beg to the federal government for a temporary grant to reopen an staff Fire Station 6, recently closed because there is no money to keep it open.

If you want to know why we keep going broke and why I have long called on ousting Democrats at all levels, we need look no further than a recent action taken by the Vancouver city council, Vancouver approves $600K contract to build waterfront park, especially to comments made below the article by current city council member, Jack Burkman.

Many commenters complain about the city having enough money to pitch in for this new park to be located on the old Boise Cascade property down near the Columbia River, but not enough to adequately fund basic services for the city.

Burkman made a comment correctly pointing out that the $250,000 Vancouver is putting into this effort from the city parks impact fees “can only be used for capital projects” and “can't be used for operations such as police, fire, and such” due to state law.

But, when asked couldn’t the cities portion be better put to use to maintain and repair some of the 107 current city parks in existence, Burkman comments,
“Yes, depending on what was done to an existing park, refurbishing current parks may have met the legal requirement for the REET money. They wouldn’t have met the requirements for the state funds.”

“This is a good example where we get state money because we brought some of our money to the table – partnership investment that gets us more for our local money than if we did it alone.”

Even though we have 107 current parks, many falling into disrepair due to no funds available to maintain them, the city will come up with a quarter of a million dollars in order to receive tax dollars from the state so we can have 108 city parks?

First and foremost, what money the state adds into this, if they do, comes from us too. Various fees and taxes are collected to fund such projects, so we are receiving our own money back, with s little from the rest of the state.

But, the idea that this is a good project solely because the state will add money to what money we contribute is ludicrous. Why build something we really do not need just so we can get state money in order to build it?

It reminds me of the excuses often given for why Portland’s Loot Rail MUST be included with a new bridge so that the feds will hopefully add money to the project to help pay for the Loot Rail. If we eliminated Loot Rail all together, would we not lower the cost of the bridge and proposed freeway interchange improvements?

But, let’s drive the price sky high just so we can receive a portion from someone else to help pay for the reason the price goes sky high?

It is completely outrageous that while we have a citizen catching grief from the city for taking the initiative and at his own expense maintaining a park in his neighborhood, a park the city says they are unable to maintain due to no funds, that the city council will cough a quarter of a million dollars in seeking funding from the state to build yet another park that there obviously will not be enough money to maintain in a barren area by the river where the city hopes to one day have a major development of high density living and shopping.

It’s little wonder that our city, county, state and country remains locked in a deep recession when we continue to elect people that think along these lines and do not know how to set priorities on what city residents need the most.

Pie in the sky plans might be nice when times are good, but when we continue to see double digit unemployment throughout the county over the last few years and continually hear the cry of we struggling middle class taxpayers must cough up more revenue to pay for unneeded projects, they only drive us further into bankruptcy.

Let’s take care of what we have before spending on things we don’t need to climb out of the “Great Recession.”

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