Friday, August 7, 2009

Government vs Creativity: Real solutions to economic crisis

The economic recession has hit everyone, but it has hit local governments and school districts the worst. Tax income for cities and school districts is at its lowest level in 30 years. While the state of Arizona can increase the state sales tax or cut highway funds with little effect on most individuals, local governments and school districts already operate on tight payroll and tax revenue formulas. Local funding problems will not be solved by massive federal government handouts like the Obama stimulus package. the trillions of dollars which the President hangs hopes for a recovery and votes for Democrats in 2010 will be a drop in the bucket for cities like Phoenix and Mesa that have closed facilities. There is simply not enough money to be printed to 'fix' the economy. In order for local governments to continue to function, there needs to be creative solutions, not government handouts.
I recently saw an example of creativity at work in Yuma's Parks and Recreation Aquatics programs. Like many Arizona cities, Yuma Parks and Recreation saw shutting down its pools during the winter as easy savings. When resident lap swimmers and competitive clubs showed up at council meetings in droves, they were shown the figures, the city could not afford the costs to keep two heated pools open for so few programs.
enter two individuals, Coach Rich McClure of Cibola high school and Alan Anderson of the Yuma Heat. McClure proposed adding fee programs to the new Valley Aquatics Center in order to keep its doors open. Anderson, concerned that losing winter pools would mean the end of USS Swimming in Yuma, proposed that the HEAT operate Abe Marcus Pool during the winter months and work with the city to create a plan for a more efficient solar heating system for the pool in future years. The city has agreed in principal to Anderson;s proposal and is looking at details for the Valley Aquatics Center proposal by McClure.
For a nominal cost to the city compared to past years, it looks as if Yuma will now have two pools open during the winter months instead of one with increased programs during a year when many cities of comparable size are closing their pools. Economic hard times drive people to be more creative. When our backs are against the wall, we Americans come up with solutions rather than looking for government handouts.
The problem with 'stimulus packages' is the same as when I was a teen and wanted to take the car out on Friday night. If I had already spent all my money, I would go to my dad. With money from my father, there were always strings attached, mowing the lawn, helping him with his fishing boat, painting the house. But if I found a way to earn the money myself, it was my own. What Americans need is not another stimulus bill, or nationalized health care, or town hall meetings to show us what we want. what Americans need is a chance to be creative with our resources, not borrowing from the Chinese until they begin eyeing Arizona as debt payment for an offloading site for their deep seaports in Mexico.

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