Monday, February 20, 2006

Not Much Fun In Funding

I saw a semblence of common sense in the paper this morning . Interesting it came from Post Falls rather than Coeur d'Alene. It involves the timing of a major funding campaign for a 20,000 square foot youth center for the Boys and Girls Club. That they are willing to wait to see what happens with the Kroc Center is wise, since they'll be competing for same pool of contributors.

I've written about these funding issues before. They still bother me. The Boys and Girls Club is looking for $3 million for construction costs. The Kroc Center $5 million for operating costs. Construction costs are a one time issue. Operating costs are not. Then there is the library at $7.2 million and the jail expansion around $50 million still looming out there. (Why the state doesn't budget to build new prisions to house their prisoners to take the burden off the County facilities is a whole different issue.)

What troubles me is what appears to be the cavalier attitude of the power structure. Mayor Bloem states that community resources are expanding. But are they? Yes, there is a building boom going on - but what is the median price of the homes being built? What about where northern Idaho ranks in the creation of livable wage jobs? I'd like to see some studies on income levels coming into the area before our leaders commit to all these projects. The people that are purchasing the million dollar homes along the river and lake are for the most part, part time residents. I doubt they would be long term major donors to any of these projects. Who, other than Patty Duke, of the celebrity population has really put themselves forward?

In talking about the enlarged pie Mayor Bloem goes on to say, "I look at all of these as opportunities with people that are passionate behind them. If they communicate that passion, they will be funded."

Back in the age of dinosaurs when I was doing professional fund raising we didn't begin a build until after we had the funding. Never, ever before. There was an impassioned letter in Sunday's Press from Tracey Vaughn, Artistic Executive Director of the Lake City Playhouse trying to clarify the difference between her venue and the CDA Summer Theatre - both competing for public funding. Then there are all the animal welfare groups continually pleading for public support. There is no less passion for the welfare of animals than for the Kroc Center. And how many others out there? Look at the donor lists - they contain the same names over and over and at some point they will be tapped out. Individual donors can't make up the difference and the big money jobs and industries are not what's coming into the area.

The power brokers are just that - they can make things happen but that doesn't necessarily mean their desires are what is best for the community as a whole. Divvy up the figures and tell me who is actually going to rent the rooms, pay the user fees, etc. at the Kroc Center. Give me some statistics.

What happens to the tax paying public if growth projections are inaccurate or fall short? The levees like in New Orleans won't break and flood us but the levys imposed to bail us out might well sink us.

1 comment:

Phil said...

I think there are a great many people like myself who are willing to pay a high membership fee to the Kroc Center simply because we have no place else to go as a family. The gyms and fitness centers are NOT kid-friendly, we already tried that.

It's sad that Duane Hagadone is sitting on his $20 million garden money, which could go to build a really nice Boys & Girls Center with his name on it. But apparently that's not a suitable legacy for him.