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The real cost of proposed splash pads

July 24, 2012
Bill Walters, Marshalltown , Times-Republican

The recent drowning of four children is a real tragedy. Some citizens have knee-jerk reactions which I believe are well meaning, but impractical.

They would obligate the taxpayers of Marshalltown to annually fund expenses of five splash pads which could reach $25,000 -$40,000 each. This would include $12,000 to $17,000 per pad upkeep (their estimates), plus you would need to add all the cost of the water and electricity for pumps and lighting, liability insurance, and unknown amounts for park and recreation staff for supervision. As mentioned before, these costs would be ongoing annually, even if the initial cost of $70,000 to $80,000+ each was made by private subscription.

Why not pass an ordinance, if we do not have one now, prohibiting swimming and wading in the Iowa River? Fines and jail time could be severe. Signs noting these ordinances and the consequences could be posted every 100 yards along the river with an illustration. There would be very little continuing costs once these signs are installed, as opposed to the high annual cost of operating splash pads.

Once warnings are posted, the city should not be liable in these areas. It is the responsibility of the parents to keep them out of harms way of all dangerous activities.

I do not believe we can add even more burdensome costs to city government. Last year the taxes I paid the city increased 7 percent from the previous year. Yet the city had to bond $12 million to fix our streets, when this should have been from budgeted annual revenue. Apparently the revenue intended for street repair was funneled into ever-increasing salaries and benefits. Also, we are in the TIF and worse, the abatement projects, thereby burdening current taxpayers for their fire, police, streets, etc. and other city services.

Where is this city administration taking us? Is there ever a thought about reducing the cost of government and its obligations. I believe state and federal grants and guarantees may and should be ending soon. There are many things government just can not afford these days.



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