Would you like 40 new basketball courts?

By Chris Story

In terms of effective communication, sometimes it helps advance ones point to draw out to the extreme a concept or idea that may be an unintended, albeit remote, consequence tomorrow of decisions made today.
You no doubt have experience with your own kids, or perhaps your parents, utilizing this tactic to promote a behavior that will ultimately benefit the recipient of your sage and perhaps dire warnings.
But from my elected officials, I expect more.  You deserve to be treated like an able-thinking adult.  For example, at the Sept. 9 Homer City Council meeting, James Dolma’s closing statements included a back-handed thank you for showing up; but chastised that when you come asking for more services you better be prepared to pay higher taxes. “We can have 40 basketball courts if you want, we’ll just raise your taxes,” he said.  This reminds me of the time that Councilman Dolma said that if you didn’t want to pay non-prepared food sales tax in the winter months –  “Perhaps we don’t need a fire department.  Perhaps we don’t need a police station.”
Councilman Lewis closed the Sept. 9 meeting with the comments that, yes, Soldotna has more money for books in their library, yes they are looking to expand the sports center; but remember, they didn’t take a holiday on their non-prepared foods sales tax.
Do you remember when the seven million dollar library was being proposed? The discussion was centered on its aesthetics and purported energy efficiency.  Rumors of its energy efficiency were greatly exaggerated; and for the first several years it appeared that we forgot to budget in for landscaping.  (I know…all part of the LEADS program.  Don’t get me started).
The college proposed a consortium library; NO.  There simply wasn’t room as we were hardly increasing the stack space as it was.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the library and find it to be an asset for the community.
What I’m proposing is a balance between wants and needs.  Rather than immediately going to a tax increase; embrace the concept of doing more with less.
For example, when the city manager proposed purchasing tablet PC’s for all the council members, this very lavish want became an ongoing very expensive need.  Forever more this community will have the continued expense of new, improved, updated and replaced tablets and increased IT for this and future councils.  The want was worthy, a neat and slick way to capture emails for city business and keep separate from personal.  The low, virtually no cost, option of keeping the emails through the city server was cast aside for the expensive ongoing want.
When it came time to update the city comprehensive plan, rather than do so with staff and an ad hock community committee; as had been done during previous revisions, an expensive expert firm from out of town was hired for well over $100,000.
Yes, we’ve been told by the council that it’s expensive to live here and we need to get used to it.  Well, do you want 40 basketball courts?

Chris Story is a lifelong Alaskan, and broker and owner of Story Real Estate. He is also host of “Alaska Matters Radio,” heard Tuesdays from 12:30-1:30 p.m. on KGTL.

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Posted by on Sep 10th, 2013 and filed under Point of View. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Response for “Would you like 40 new basketball courts?”

  1. linda says:

    The city council has money for what they want, kinda like the US government. And just like the US government, the city wants to spend our money on a police state and ignoring the needs and obligations toward the people of Homer.

    We got all kind of extra money from Buccaneer but would the city council actually spend that on the needs of the people. Of course not.

    We have no Boys and Girls club in what is called the most progressive community in Alaska.

    No money for a community center, total condescending rudeness toward anyone suggesting it…. then lo and behold, we’ll get 15 million to build a police station where the boys and girls club use to be and the location everyone wanted for a community center.

    $300,000 to plan the new safety building, more than was needed to rent a new building for the boys and girls club and/or community center.

    This city spends other people’s money like no tomorrow, but when it comes to something the people want, they treat us like little children, like they are the big authoritative bully and we are to sit in a corner.

    What about the money needed for the Kachemak drive bike path? City was irate over the suggestion they spend any money on it. Then they handed out $100,.000 for Bunnell street when anyone who has spent time in Homer realizes there are many many more people using Kachemak drive and it is extremely dangerous right now.

    No money to pay what the city owes to properties damaged by the sewer flooding last winter, but plenty of money to pay lawyers.

    When are we going to say enough is enough? And who is looking into who gets the money the city is handing out because $300,000 for a study…is this money going to friends, connections, relatives of the city council?

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