Monday, March 09, 2009

Montgomery County Priorities--Not Good, Unless you Own a Horse

the last time I checked, the state of Maryland was facing something like a $2 billion budget shortfall (although I haven't heard how much money we are punishing our children for with Obama Handout money). Montgomery County Maryland has its own better than half a billion dollar shortfall (estimated to be $520 million and maybe growing), so you would think that the Montgomery County Politburo Council, would be looking long and hard at spending priorities. Well, apparently they areby dropping $700,000 for an equestrian center in upper Montgomery County.
The state has already spent nearly $700,000 to build the Woodstock Equestrian Center near Beallsville.

Now the county is planning to add more funds. This coming Tuesday (March 10), the County Council will seek approval to add funding for the project. The County Planning Board has requested a special appropriation of an additional $750,000 to pay for an outdoor riding ring, terraced seating, a storage area for jumps and maintenance equipment. A “special appropriation” means they can appropriate this with reduced oversight and procedure. Why? Because, as the funding request notes, “The County Council declares that this action is necessary to act without delay in the public interest.”

Whenever you hear someone citing “the public interest”, it’s time to reach for your wallet. What’s the “public interest” here? The county cites “recreational opportunities”. Recreation — for whom? We’re not talking about playground basketball here. Riding horses is an expensive hobby, undertaken by folks with a lot of disposable income. Those who benefit from the center should be paying for it – not the taxpayers. But this is a typical MoCo ploy; taking money from taxpayers to subsidize the leisure of the rich.
I really question the mindset of a county council who thinks this is a spending priority. I know that you can't cut all parks and recreation spending, but seriously, how many people is this going to serve?

For that kind of money, you can maintain a lot of parkland that already exists or pools or basketball courts, tennis courts or dozens of other facilities that are used by more than a handful of people.

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