Taxpayers left bag at Paintsville golf course | Opinion
In the words of Senator Kristin Gillibrand, “If everyone in America can easily see who and why their legislators are asking taxpayers’ money for, we can keep elected officials honest, end the era of political favors and special interests and reduce unnecessary expenses. “Senator Kristin Gillibrand’s words ring true for so many projects and gifts that often go unnoticed in cities across America, the Commonwealth of Kentucky and small towns in the mountains.
Although it is difficult to identify all the projects that deserve careful consideration, one such project that deserves careful consideration is the operation of the Paintsville Golf Course. Golf, like so many other sports, could not exist without taxpayers’ money. And of course, as long as taxpayer funds aren’t misused, most taxpayers don’t object to the use of their tax dollars to support recreation in their communities, including public golf courses.
That said, the operation of the Paintsville Golf Course deserves special scrutiny, especially at a time when smaller communities in the area are struggling to provide even basic government services such as police and fire protection, sanitation, street maintenance and other necessary government services. . A quick glance at Paintsville’s most recent fiscal year budget of approximately $11,465,000, the item that immediately jumps out at the casual observer is the $548,000 approved for the operation of the golf. When one compares the cost of running the golf course to the $790,000 approved for running the police department, one wonders how the current administration can justify this expenditure of taxpayers’ money.
So why should anyone care that the taxpayers of Paintsville are footing the bill for running the golf course? Well, one reason is that the golf course typically only generates fifty percent of the money it needs to operate from membership dues, green fees, and other miscellaneous revenue. The administration must answer the question of whether the taxpayers of Paintsville should foot the bill for a golf course that only serves a small number of local citizens.
For those who simply don’t care about the use of taxpayer funds to operate the golf course, it’s also questionable whether they would care if they knew what else lurks in the ” tall grass” behind the operation of the golf course. A startling issue that surfaced recently through an open-case request was the number of city employees who receive free or discounted memberships to the golf course. Admittedly, it is difficult to interpret the response, however, it appears that at least ninety free or discounted golf passes were issued in 2022.
So another question that begs an answer is how can the city justify giving away free or discounted memberships up to around $90,000 when the golf course is taxpayer funded? Or for that matter, one wonders who approves these free or discounted memberships, who chooses who gets these memberships, and what authority is there for these giveaways of taxpayers’ money?
Of course, one can also ask how much revenue has been lost in recent years to the program from what can only be described as wasteful spending. Assuming at least $90,000 per year over the past five years, the city lost at least $450,000 in revenue. Is it right? Of course, the answer is simple, not only is this giveaway not fair to taxpayers, but this unnecessary giveaway must be stopped immediately.
Finally, I am often criticized for my columns. What you have to understand is that the reason for my columns, titled “Random Thoughts from the Heartland,” is meant to give a voice to those who have no voice; my columns aim to encourage public discussion on topics that often would never see the light of day. My columns are written and intended to challenge the old proverb, “out of sight, out of mind”.
Mark Wohlander, former FBI agent, federal prosecutor and volunteer at the David School in David, Kentucky, writes his columns as “Random Thoughts from the Heartland”, columns intended to give voice to the voiceless and the encourage public dialogue on issues that often would never see the light of day. Other Mark columns and Liberty prints are available at www.fivesmoothstonesky.com.