Yes on Prop. A Vote, Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Why I Support Proposition A

Rolla's 1/4 Cent Dedicated
Parks and Recreation Sales Tax

Rolla's park's are deteriorating. Buehler Park (the park I'm most familiar with) alone has lost a pterodon swing, a bench swing, a merry-go-round, its bathroom facilities, and its water line in recent years. Other than a small bench, none of this equipment has been replaced. Other parks are deteriorating too. It takes money to run a good park system. New playground equipment is not cheap.

The City has a multi-million dollar investment in The Centre. They had hoped that revenue would cover operating expenses. It hasn't. Without adequate funding the Centre will deteriorate and recreational offerings may have to be cut.

If we don't keep up our parks and recreation system, Rolla will also deteriorate. The first thing people notice coming to town is our parks. If we allow our park system to run down, people will go elsewhere, revenue will decrease, and we end up on a downward spiral. We must make our parks and recreational facilities the best that they can be.

The consequences of allowing our parks to deteriorate further could be dire. Children with recreational opportunities are far less likely to get involved in crime. Crime hurts us all. Police are far more expensive than parks. We can pay a little now ... or pay a lot later.

Healthy citizens stay fit. Medical intervention is far more expensive than recreation. Healthy workers do better work and take fewer sick days. We can pay a little now ... or pay a lot later.

I support Proposition A, Rolla's dedicated Parks and Recreation tax. Please consider voting YES on Prop. A, Tuesday, April 8, 2014.

Below are my responses to some arguments
presented by opponents of Proposition A:

“ Hold officials to their PROMISE of 100% recapture of Centre's operational expense.”

How do you hold someone to an unrealistic promise that cannot be kept? It's impossible! So let's go on from here. Now that almost everybody agrees that the promise was unrealistic, we should be discussing how to make the best of the situation.

“ [F]ind a way to break even or go out of business.”

Rolla has invested many millions of dollars in The Centre. Liquidating this investment at 10 cents on the dollar for lack of a few percent of operating funds should be unthinkable.

“ The Centre competes [with private businesses].”

You can't have it both ways. Opponents of Proposition A want the Centre to be run like a business but not compete with local businesses. Business is all about competition; offering a better product for less. The city of Rolla is NOT a business.

“ [A] Park tax should [be] for PARKS ONLY, not The Centre's deficit.”

This is not a parks only tax. This is a parks and recreation tax. The two go together. They are not separate issues. A park is first and foremost a place people go to for recreation; so is The Centre.

“ I have been chastised that this is just a very small amount, but folks, this nation got seventeen trillion dollars in debt mostly by small amounts.”

ABSOLUTELY FALSE! The United States got $17 trillion in debt financing a military that cost almost as much as the rest of the world combined, fighting a 14-year-long war of choice that 2/3 of all Americans now oppose, bailing out huge financial institutions like Morgan-Chase and Bank of America, giving massive subsidies to the fossil-fuel and nuclear energy industries, allowing some of our wealthiest corporation like General Electric to pay ZERO taxes, and eroding our tax base by encouraging corporations like Briggs and Stratton to move jobs overseas.

The United States did not go into debt financing parks and recreation centers!

“ I absolutely reject the notion that a regressive sales tax, which hits the poor the hardest, should be enacted so those that can afford a membership at the Centre have their enjoyment subsidized. ”

This is an argument I made in 2011 in three separate letters to the Rolla Daily News. The only response I received was from Bob McKune who claimed the Recreation for Everyone Foundation took care of those who were unable to afford Centre memberships. On further questioning McKune admitted that he only gave out 35 to 40 partial scholarships annually. What a joke! Many families in Rolla can't even afford membership at reduced rates.

16 years ago I suggested to Bill Moorkamp, John Butz, Lou Magdits and many others that recouping operating expenses was the WRONG GOAL and the goal of The Centre should be to provide the best health and recreational opportunities possible to the most people. As far as I can remember, I was a minority of one.

Whether or not Proposition A passes, I hope we can now talk seriously about providing the opportunity of Centre membership to ALL Rolla residents. Had we done this 16 years ago, chances are we would not be looking at a tax increase now. Had we done this, the Centre might even have succeeded in recouping 100% of its operating expenses.

Economically disadvantaged families have paid and will continue to pay more than their fair share of the cost of constructing and operating The Centre. It is past time that they too should receive the benefits of Centre membership.

paid for by Tom Sager