Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Hazardous Spending

Something is wrong with a city's priorities when running golf courses comes
before paying employees.

Mesa spends $2.5 million to run two city-owned golf courses. At the same
time, city employees are being asked to forgo cost-of-living adjustments for
the next two years.

While glittering greens may look great in convention brochures and nicely
complement the other 19 golf courses in Mesa, a round on the municipal back
nine is cold comfort to those employees facing de facto pay cuts.

Reasonable people may disagree about the proper role of government; but
municipal golf courses shouldn't cause much contention.

After all, it is hard to discern the public benefit in a playing a round of
golf. When you consider that public courses are draining precious tax
dollars from payrolls, something is clearly amiss. Public parks with swing
sets and slides, these are not.

Mesa is not alone in financing lavish personal recreation at public expense.
Tempe and Glendale each run two courses; Kingman, Page, and Casa Grande have
eighteen holes each. These one- and two-course operations are positively
quaint compared to other Arizona cities. Tucson has 5 city-owned courses,
Phoenix runs 7, Sun City has 8.

Maybe these public links wouldn't seem so fantastical if Arizona didn't have
over 300 privately owned courses, many of them reasonably priced and most
open to the public. But even if the market was not already well served by
the private sector, government-run luxuries like golf courses make about as
much sense as government-run amusement parks or night clubs- none at all.


Bad management yields Mesa deficit

Getting Greens in the Black: Golf-Course Privatization Trends and Practices

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