People come to Golden to live and play, however not everyone plays the same way. How does a municipality choose which quality of life pursuits are worth investing tax payers’ dollars into, and which are not?
This concept came up at the last council meeting as a new rate structure was being set for some of the recreational facilities and programs that the municipality runs.
The Town of Golden wants to make the community a desirable one to live, and offering recreational programs that are affordable is a big part of that.
However, should the people who don’t use these facilities be subsidizing them for the people who do with their tax dollars?
On the other hand, the more people who are attracted to live in town, the more taxpayers there will be, placing less of a burden on each individual.
And on top of that, you can’t put money into every recreational opportunity that’s out there…so how do you choose which ones are more valuable to the community as a whole?
This argument could go back and forth forever, and there’s no right or wrong side. But since this is an opinion page, I’m going to pick one anyway.
Investment in recreation comes back around to benefit the community, whether it’s through increased tourism (bringing in tourism dollars into the businesses), or through permanent resident attraction and retention.
Keeping the costs reasonably low to the users ensures that the programs will be utilized as much as possible. And as the Manager of Recreation said during a council meeting, busy programs and facilities make them look desirable, and attract more users.
The question of which activities should be supported is a much tougher one. The biking and Nordic trails bring in a substantial amount of people, as Coun. Bruce Fairley pointed out during a council meeting, and the Town does not consistently support them with operations (although funds have been made available to these types of clubs in the past for various capital projects).
The bottom line is, these clubs are thriving on their own, thanks in large part to the astounding level of volunteerism. Facilities like the swimming pool and arena, however, cannot survive without the support of the municipality. And there are a lot of people who would think long and hard about making Golden their home if swimming lessons or hockey were not available to them.
And if increasing rates too much is going to decrease the number of users, it won’t help that financial bottom line anyway.
I know it’s a hard pill to swallow for those of us who do not take advantage of these facilities. But they are part of what makes the community what it is, and it would hurt us as a whole if we lost them.