Well, it’s budget season. And all the Departments and Agencies are coming to the Commissioners begging for MORE money. Yes I said MORE, not the same or less. Well at least most are. I expect it. What fool would come asking for less. If they are going to pass out FREE money why not ask. I always say, “you never get what you don’t ask for.” And don’t forget the classic, “the worst they can say is no.”
That leads me to my favorite group of all. And I’m not really sure what to call them. Are they the “Rowing Venue” or the “Olympic Venue” or the “Lake Lanier Olympic Venue” or the “Lake Lanier Rowing Club” or the “Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club” or the “Clarks Bridge Park, Lake Lanier Olympic Center” or the “Gainesville/Hall ’96 Foundation Rowing Venue.” I think you get my point. This place has so many monikers that it’s confusing. But none the less, loyal foot soldier to the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, Morgan House went before the Commission begging for money, to the tune of $150,000.00.
Now last year when Morgan House came a begging, multiple commissioners told him the was a one time gift because they had just given the keys to the Park to him to control. Part of House taking control was that he was suppose to fund it through events and fund raising (which I hear he’s doing a great job at.) The Commission was just giving him SEED money. But all the Commissioners seem to forgot their words from just a year ago. Now the story line is they are going to give him less money year over year till they stop funding the “Rowing Venue.” Quick question for everyone, if they give same amount of money as last year is that less? But who can expect Commissioners to hold a hard line on what they say about spending tax dollars?
Now let me clear some issues up. First, I don’t hate the “Rowing Venue.” I actually like it in concept a lot. How many people can say they are still using their Olympic Venue from the 1996 Olymics still today? Not many I bet. I think that’s a great thing for our community to be able to say and show off. What I don’t like is that a couple private clubs dominate what is suppose to be a “Public” park and receive more tax dollars than other parks that the real public can actually use. My point is there is nothing truly “Public” about this public park. If you don’t believe me try going in the viewing tower some time. You can’t get in without an escort and only if they want you in the building (no common folk please.) Also try launching a boat at the boat ramp on a day they have a rowing event. Well that’s not happening. And I don’t mean in the middle of the event. I personally tried to launch one of my PWCs there at 10 am on the day of an event that started at 3 pm. “No sir, you can’t launch today” says the young lady left to guard the venue. “We have a race today.” Okay you have a race today at 3 pm. What does that have to do with launching a boat at 10 in the morning. And no, I wasn’t leaving the truck in the parking lot. My parents lived right up the street and I had another driver to drive the truck to their house. These rowers think they own not only the venue but the lake in a 1 mile radius from the park. It’s just so frustrating dealing with these people.
Now let’s address the impact issue. Chairman Dick Mecum and others are touting information saying that the rowing venue had an economic impact of 6.2 million dollars for the year (not including 2 events at year end not calculated.) you can read about it here in the Times. Let’s round up to $6.5 million to include final 2 events. If 2 cents of every dollar goes to the county, 1 cent from SPLOST and 1 cent from LOST. Then it cost the county $150,000 to make $130,000. Now my financial advisor would tell me that is a bad investment. I’m not sure what yours would tell you. So can we now say that this issue no long hold water, or at least lake water?
Lastly, in a year where commissioners are working hard to give us all a tax increase due to “serious issues.” Does spending money to the tune of $150,000 to subsidize a couple of rich kid sport clubs make sense if we are so desperate to find money to pave roads, make parity in salaries, and purchase Sheriff’s patrol vehicles so the department isn’t using vehicles with over 200,000 miles on them? It just doesn’t make fiscal sense to me. Couldn’t this money be spent more wisely? I’m curious what the rest of you in the citizenry think. Feel free to come to the budget hearing today at the Government Center at 11:30 to give your opinion. See you there if you can get off work. Got to earn that money so you can pay your taxes.