Get government off the golf course

“Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”
—President Ronald Reagan (First Inauguration Speech, 1981)

“While local officials await a study to make the five local municipal golf courses more self-supporting, the Reno City Council has approved raising rates immediately for improvements at Rosewood Lakes Golf Course.” So reported the Reno Gazette-Journal on June 29.

Government has no business subsidizing the citizenry’s recreation, and I’m absolutely tickled pink that some officials have come to the same conclusion. While the city is trying to make the course self-supporting and perhaps take it off the taxpayer dole, readers should recognize it doesn’t exactly require a study to do so—unless the accounting records are lost.

And yet, a study is due to the Council this fall about whether consolidating operations for Roseville Lakes, Northgate, Wildcreek and two of Washoe County’s courses is a good idea. Collectively, the five are apparently scheduled to lose some $2.8 million, which absolutely gives me the warm-fuzzies about our local government’s management skills. (Can anyone tell me again about government being the solution to any problem?)

Only among government bureaucrats is a “study” warranted when deciding to make up one’s mind about a particular course of action. That’s especially true when the solution is so simple. As anyone who has ever balanced a checkbook knows—when one is trying to be self-sufficient, one must at least cover the expenses. Otherwise one must find a way to increase income, cut expenses or both. It definitely does not require a study. It does, however, require a basic understanding of accounting principles.

“I’m a golfer myself. I used to play Rosewood quite a bit when it was in pristine condition five or six years ago. I’m a little disappointed with what’s going on,” sayeth Franco Crivelli, chairman of the Southeast Neighborhood Advisory Board regarding the course.

Yet, he didn’t believe officials should be so unreasonable about the golf course paying for itself. That again begs the question about which is worse: Paid or unpaid representation in government?

And here was Councilwoman Jessica Sferrazza before the vote referencing said courses and their collective $782,000 subsidy: “[W]e have no other choice to raise fees slightly to get maintenance out at the golf course.” Yet, it has occurred to no one that rather than the apologetic nature of “raising fees” someone should perhaps apologize for the $782 large in taxpayer money that went, ah, somewhere?

Or how about this? Rather than just “slightly” raising fees, how about raising them to the point where the government is not competing with local private courses?

Is it too much to ask that in addition to hosing over the local private courses with cut-rate fees, they not do so with the additional expense of taxpayer subsidies?

Here was Councilman Dave Aiazzi: “Rather than trying to stay equal, I would rather beat the pants off of Washoe.”

Quite frankly, I don’t care if Reno beats the pants off the county. Neither the city nor the county has business running golf courses—particularly when they apparently can’t competently do so. Rather than “fix” them, how about selling out to a private entity or at least transferring its management to someone who understands the business of running a self-sufficient golf course? Or better yet, just let Washoe County have a “win.” It isn’t like it would actually be one.

Some of this really is pushing the limits of common sense. Or is it perhaps common governance?

That again perhaps brings us back to Reagan’s assertions.