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Hockey association serves city well
January 13, 2009 - Lee Smith
I saw the discussion Monday at the City Council meeting regarding the hockey association and the city possibly cutting off funding to the organization. There was a lot of good information that has given me new insight into this issue.
In general, I agree with those who have been unwilling to give city dollars to non-profit groups. When the Opera House and Red Rock Center were turned down for funding last year, I thought it was the right way to go. Non-profits need to be self-sustaining. They are meant to attract those who share similar interests. I believe it is wrong to force people to fund things (through city taxes) in which they have no interest, or with which they disagree.
But when it comes to the hockey association, there is another matter involved. The city owns the all-purpose arena at the fairgrounds. It needs someone to manage and run the facility. Under agreement with the hockey association, the association has taken on that role, for which it receives payment ... $30,000 per year. The alternative would be to use city staff out there. That would mean union wages and benefits. In other words, the $30,000 is a bargain for all the volunteer hours the hockey association puts in.
Granted, there is a deeper issue: Should the city own and operate an all-purpose arena? Should it own and maintain parks? Should it have built an aquatic park, which loses money every year? You get the idea. I'm willing to argue that private parks/recreation facilites would suffice. And if they could not be maintained or self-sustaining, then obviously most citizens would not be expressing interest in them. However, I understand that the common view is that public parks/facilities are necessary and good. If that remains the view, then the city should do all it can to get the most bang for its buck, which includes utilitizing the services of groups like the hockey association. Right?
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