Sunday, July 5, 2009

Boo to the Hoo

Howard County Recreation and Parks Director Gary Arthur may have become a bit spoiled by the recent boom in real estate. During a time when many people have lost their jobs, he has the audacity to complain that his department no longer gets nearly $10 million a year from Project Open Space:

Three years ago, Howard County received $9.5 million from the state's Program Open Space fund for buying and developing parkland, the highest amount this decade. For the fiscal year starting July 1, the county is due $438,062 from the local share of that same state program.

That's the lowest amount the county has received this decade, and it led county Recreation and Parks Director Gary J. Arthur to publicly ask county legislators for help.

"I'd appreciate it if our delegation, when times improve, can fund it the way it was," Arthur said recently.

The program's money comes from one-half of 1 percent of real estate transfer tax revenues, which are drastically down statewide due to the recession. In addition, the General Assembly took $21 million from local-share open space funding in the November 2007 special session, according to David Juppe, senior operating budget analyst with the state's Department of Legislative Services.

What is sad is that none of the politicians that Arthur is pandering too seem to be asking why he needs this money. We already have plenty of parks spread all over the county, to say nothing of the open space provided by Columbia. It is almost taken a priori that open space is a great thing. I don’t really see it that way. All of the county parks seem to me to be wildly underused by residents, and the space they provide is not particularly well suited for wildlife. In fact, the Dept of Rec and Parks smears vegetable oil on goose eggs to kill the goose embryos in order to keep the goose population under control. Additionally, spending public money on parks destroys wealth.

Furthermore, the millions of dollars that Arthur is asking the Delegation to steal and give to him could be put to any number of better uses. I would suggest leaving that money in the hands of those in which it was stolen from.

Arthur’s department already has an annual budget of $30 million dollars, and anyone who attended the fireworks at the lake front yesterday saw a fantastic display of all the unneeded trucks and equipment that the Department of Recreation and Parks already has. There were at least 10 large DRP trucks parked along LPP in the GGP parking lot, but my favorite toy that DRP has is the portable stage that the Kinderman performed on. It is a giant mobile stage on wheels that has two hydraulic cylinders that open it up like a clamshell for use or close it up for road transportation. I’d love to know what this contraption cost the taxpayers, and how many hours a year it is used.


Anonymous said...

I heard on one of the Sunday talk shows that most politicians are narcissistic. I'd add that these appointees are arrogant narcissists as well - Have you met him?

These are the people who spend our money. Small wonder we're in our current position.

Anonymous said...

Anyone still consious after receiving your property tax bill this year? Unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who feels that strongly about politicians being narcissistic, arrogant money-wasting rubber stamps to department heads should strongly consider running for office. There will be someone there and decisions have to be made. If they are being made so poorly as evidenced by supporting recreation and parks and property taxes, do something about it.

Freemarket said...

Anon- the problem is not that the wrong people are in office. Many elected officals are great people in their private capacity. The problem is what you have to say and do to get into office. It's the framework, not the faces.