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Letters to the Editor 12/9

December 08, 2000

Letters to the Editor 12/9



Special public projects an 'evil, creeping disease'



To the editor:

Just a few thoughts arising from the Tim Rowland Opinion Of Dec. 4 "For public works to work...."

Rowland's view of public works is interesting. He speaks of them as (1) projects that do not earn money nor should we expect them too and (2) services the government decide will positively affect enough people so as to justify spending a few tax dollars.

But why should public works be only those things that do not make a profit? Why doesn't the public have the right to expect public works to pay their own way? And in the case of skating rinks and sports stadiums, taxpayer spending is not a few dollars as he suggests, but millions of dollars over the life of the project. Seldom are these projects ever paid for.

Don't you think that it is right and necessary to differentiate between what are properly "public" projects and what are properly "private" projects. I can accept that in a town or city taxpayers may jointly pay for water, sewer, trash removal, streets, a school, a park etc. These are clearly a benefit to the whole public.

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But the same is not true of an ice-skating rink, or a sports stadium, or a swimming pool or a golf course, etc. (And if these are "public" projects, then why not roller-skating rinks, bowling alleys, putt-putt golf, movie theaters and X-treme sports parks, auto race tracks, and drag-ways etc ?)

These are "special interest projects" that in no way benefit the whole community. They only benefit the few people who have an interest in them. These special interest projects should be built by and funded by individuals with those interests with private funds, membership fees, admission fees, or dues.

It seems to me to be highly improper to tax the whole public to fund the entertainment and amusement of a few people. It is about time for the public to demand that elected leaders use greater discernment in determining what are properly "public" works and what are not, and stop spending tax dollars on these special interest projects. If that had been done in the past taxpayers would not now own the ice rink debt nor would they now be being threatened with shouldering the multi-million dollar debt of a baseball stadium. Let-the-taxpayer-pay is an evil, creeping disease that we need to be cured of.

To any fair-minded person the reason why the stadium project should not include taxpayer dollars is that it is not a legitimate public works project. It is a special interest project that should be paid for by baseball owners, investors and fans, not taxpayers. Timing is not everything. Common sense is everything. That is where happy middle ground is found. The key to making public works work is to be sure they are legitimate public works!

Edward L. James

Hancock

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