Friday, July 18, 2008

I'll take a swim, taxpayers take a bath

The Flier gave prime space to a local parent is calling for Howard County to build a swimming pool. A 50 meter, indoor swimming pool. Why? Because no private investors are willing to build such an expensive luxury item and our government officials are gullible enough to give this idea the time of day. The need for a pool is rationalized by supporters with tales of health benefits that would befall its users, and of course the "do it for the kids" argument that school based swim teams would form and make use of the pool. There is of course the entertainment aspect of a pool as well. I would love to know where I was when it was decided that the job of the government is to provide exercise facilities and entertainment for its residents. I must have been taking a piss or something.

Anyway, the Flier had another article where they actually run the numbers on how much such a pool will cost. We saw it happen with the horse park and it is happening with this pool, supporters of the idea are railing on about how it will "pay for itself" in user fees. However, the data that the Flier obtained clearly shows that this will not happen. Right of the bat, all indoor pools are money losers with no further analysis needed. The cost just to operate an indoor pool exceeds the projected revenues from it (never mind the additional cost to build it in the first place).

A simple analysis of an outdoor pool takes about three seconds longer, because the projected revenues actually exceed the projected costs to operate the pool (again, not considering the cost to build the pool in the first place). Under the best case scenario, an outdoor pool is projected to throw off $35,700 in cash flow every year. Such a pool will cost $6.5 million to build. This means that the payback period for this pool is 182 years! Given that that a pool has a useful life of nowhere near 182 years, I will make the bold call that this idea is a non-starter.

Waste of tax dollars? Check.


JessieX said...

Ditto. While many may have yet to get The Memo, it's high time that our government (local, state, fed) move -- and quickly -- toward function, collaborative work and core services, only. The era of luxurious government expenditures "because I want it" is, imo, fading/gone.

Zinzindor said...

Why do you hate children, FM? :>


Freemarket said...

I dislike how children are used by adults as a political tool to rationalize all sorts of taxation and other redistributions of wealth. The fact that someone would argue the "school swim team" angle on a multi million dollar swimming pool just makes me ill.

Anonymous said...

FM - when it comes to financial issues and accountability you are hands down the go to guy.

So many people in this country think we have a free market economy when the reality is not so. Government gets too involved with propping up certain businesses or getting involved with certain "ventures". I don't like it. If taxpayer money is used to shore up failing companies, doesn't that make us a quasi-socialistic economy? And, shouldn't we the people share in the profits that bailed out companies realize?

I think you're spot on about this pool issue. Keep up the good work.