Slippery Slope: Parkersburg Council spending irresponsibly

Imagine for a moment you are going over finances in your own home, deciding how much will be available to spend for necessary maintenance, paying bills, etc. and one of your children pipes up asking for an unnecessarily expensive new toy. The money is, technically, available, but would be far better spent on keeping a solid roof over that child’s head. Those of us who are making such decisions with our own money know the responsible thing to do is to tell the child no, and use the money where it is needed.

But, it seems, when making decisions with someone else’s (taxpayers’) money, Parkersburg City Council is not prepared to say no, but rather, is willing to spend like drunken sailors on those expensive new toys. In this case, $130,000 — more than $45,000 more than the average home price in Parkersburg — for a slide at the revamped City Park Pool.

Mayor Tom Joyce was understated in telling council “It bothers me … how much money we’re going to allocate toward the slide.”

Council member John Reed used stronger language.

“I don’t know where this is going to end,” he said. “In six years on council, this has to be the most irresponsible amendment to the budget I’ve ever seen.”

Meanwhile, of course, the city is spending less money on paving projects than at any point in the past four years ($1.5 million in the upcoming budget), despite Joyce reminding council “Right now, we’re in a situation where we’ve got less money (for paving) and we’re pretty sure the price is going to go up.”

Council is already spending $2 million on a splash pad and other changes at City Park Pool. Now that figure is bumped up to at least $2.13 million. One wonders how much a “good, fast slide” adds to the cost for insurance on the pool, but that is a discussion for another day.

Council members must find a balance between necessary improvements that will generate a return (monetary or otherwise) for the city and fulfilling all the obligations that come with serving a city this size. And, by the way, infrastructure maintenance SHOULD be considered an obligation.

Yes, of course it would be nice to be able to tack on a slide at the pool and any number of other new toys without worrying about what necessary budget item will suffer as a result. But council must come to the understanding, Parkersburg simply is not swimming in that kind of money.

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