- Published on Wednesday, 02 April 2014 18:12
- Written by Super User
By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
While an eight-lane community pool is a great idea and debatably may pay for itself with user fees, it is yet another project on a board full of projects that needs to be prioritized. Clean water and sanitary sewer improvements, dredging the lake to mitigate flooding during rain events, funding beach nourishment and inlet dredging, and maintaining basic municipal services are priorities often supported by residents.
Getting grants to fund improvements for parks and the boardwalk area is outstanding. Those grants pay a large part of those bills while the Town matches them with a percentage of funding.
The pool proposal (See page 1-A) should receive the most scrutiny because there are no upfront grants from state agencies and it will be dependent on whether or not a local government can run a successful business venture. If the users don't pay the bill, the taxpayers will.
I made a recommendation last year that perhaps an exercise in obtaining business financing is in order. That recommendation wasn't well received by an elected official, but it is worth considering.
Take the proposal to a lender and seek a loan based on the existing financial figures (estimated revenues, expenditures, operation, etc) and a business plan. See if a bank would fund the proposal if a private company rather than government planned it.
Business owners do this every day and have to survive that process because banks have to be comfortable they will get their money back with interest. Some idea that the venture will be successful. In government, if a venture doesn't succeed, the loan still has to be paid and the shareholders have to, by force of law, pay for it in their property tax rates if success doesn't materialize. True, the loan to the government comes from a bank, but in this case the bank knows the Town has something private businesses don't have; taxing authority. In the case of government, the bank isn't at risk, the taxpayers fill that gap through their property taxes of which the Town has to set high enough to cover all debts. Since this pool has been in the planning process since early 2012, one would have thought some outside financial institution would have been consulted.