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Should County Government Fund Parks and Recreation Programs?

At a recent meeting, Carroll County Commissioners debated the role of government in funding local recreation and parks programs.

In a recent meeting of the Carroll County Commissioners to discuss the Master Plan, Commissioner Robin Bartlett-Frazier suggested that the county's parks and recreation program should be self-sustaining.

"Part of this section [in the Master Plan] somewhere should reflect the idea that parks and recreation should be striving to be self-sufficient and especially as we go foward, it will be easy to measure what costs are and to have those costs in the user fees," Bartlett-Frazier said.

Commissioners Doug Howard disagreed saying that while it is ideal when costs are covered through fees, it's not realistic to expect that the programs can be self-sufficient. 

"I think it should reflect that—that that is something we encourage," Howard said. "But I don't believe parks and recreation should pay for itself, it's not a burden we've put on any other department." 

Should Carroll County government fund parks and recreation programs that aren't covered by state government and user fees? Tell us in comments. 

Bartlett-Frazier said that in the past parks and recreation programs weren't even a function of government but rather were taken care of by schools and local organizations such as the Lions Club. 

"Even though it's nice and and does probably add to quality of life in the county, it's not one of those core roles of the county," Bartlett-Frazier said.

Commissioner Dave Roush said that the programs that can sustain themselves should, but that government is necessary to fund parks and programs that cannot sustain themselves. 

"It can't be our goal to have them all be completely self-sufficient," Roush said. "It's difficult to charge a user fee for walking on a trail but not difficult to charge a member fee for something like a dog park or for a tournament organizer for use of a series of fields." 

Bartlett-Frazier said that the parks programs could be self-sufficient if they were run more like a business. 

"If you add up what all of your costs are and figure out what fees should be in place, you do make money which is what businesses do," Bartlett-Frazier said. "Tax dollars comes from all citizens anyway."

Howard said that he would be "100 percent against overcharging citizens for other people's use of other parks." 

"If you ask citizens they'll tell you they want parks, and businesses that come here will you they value that in economic development decisions, so I don't know where you come up with the idea that it's not part of our purview," Howard said. "I don't think citizens would agree with that."

Watch the discussion here on the county's video portal. 

Brian October 02, 2012 at 06:27 PM
@JoeEldersburg - the the Occupiers represent what? Exactly!
Sille October 03, 2012 at 12:02 AM
The Federal government runs the National Parks system; the State government runs the State Parks system and other counties in Maryland run park systems. Carroll County should likewise run a parks system that is available for everyone to use. Taxes should continue to pay for these systems. Isn't this the same commissioner who said during the school funding discussion, "Why do we need to be best? What is wrong with being mediocre?" Isn't it also the same commissioner who states that we do not have money to implement programs yet demands annual cuts in the real estate tax? Where is the logic? How can we attract new residents and businesses without offering services?
Buck Harmon October 03, 2012 at 12:13 AM
So then, what you are saying is that the Commissioners are seditious...I'll buy that one Joann....seditious bigots..thank you.
dugAhole October 03, 2012 at 12:41 AM
What a nut job response this is. Guess the next thing to do is place a toll on county road use. Hate to be a business on a county road. I'm tired of hearing how the teenie weenie party interprets the Consititution.
dugAhole October 03, 2012 at 12:45 AM
The far right speaks about tolerance, give me a break. They want governement out of our lives until it hurts their beliefs. Then they want amendments passed to dictate how we should be living our lives according to those beliefs.
Buck Harmon October 03, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Pay to use a public owned park would be a tax or toll that is being suggested by Frazier..??
Buck Harmon October 03, 2012 at 11:58 AM
Are the public parks owned by the government or the people?
WatchingInMtAiry October 03, 2012 at 12:01 PM
As to JoAnn's postings all I can say is: Proverbs 26:4 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. As to the funding of P&R, that while most of Rec Councils are self funding for rec sports, where the county comes in is the maintenance of the parks and facilities (emptying trash, cutting grass, etc.). They also provide assistance in self-help projects ranging from new equipment (lacrosse and soccer goals) to new playground equipment. These are community assets and should continue to be funded at the meager levels that they are today. Here's a snippet of a CCT article from 2009 that truly tells the story: “For hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours, the county taxpayers are contributing $40,000...” Though the county’s money will make a big impact on the improvement projects, Degitz said the local councils still must raise money through registration fees and fundraisers. For every $1 the county’s Bureau of Recreation spends on recreation council programs, Degitz said the councils spend $12. The 12 recreation councils in the county, Degitz said, raise and spend about $4.5 million annually for youth and adult sports and activities.
Buck Harmon October 03, 2012 at 12:48 PM
JoAnn, You are EXACTLY the kind of nasty sounding person that really turns people away from learning the facts associated with the Constitution. Who would want to associate with this kind of narrow and ill tempered mind set. If your goal is to inform the public of the importance of the Constitution's intent and content, I would suggest removing the bad ass attitude that you so frequently project to almost every thread that you participate in. The bully tactic has grown old and those that respect and seek to enforce effective use of the Constitution as it relates to today's America are slowed by people like you, that seem to turn people away because of the bad ass attitude associated with all that you rant.
Buck Harmon October 03, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Very simple JoAnn, The people elect officials and give them orders. If the people say create parks for all to use and enjoy, parks are created...if the people say pay for these parks with tax dollars, parks are paid for with tax dollars..by instruction given by the people. The people give the government orders and the government must do as they say...after all, the money comes from,and belongs to the people. Governments job is to execute the will of the people, the Constitution protects the people from the will of government.
Stacy Fisher October 03, 2012 at 02:01 PM
I believe if it is funded, it should be from a vote of the people, and WITH LOCAL tax dollars or donations ONLY. ONLY local government should have say in local business.
Stacy Fisher October 03, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Exactly! Getting involved is KEY and support is crucial and it bonds the locals together! Nothing like a small town or city that cares about each other and works together to get things done!
Buck Harmon October 03, 2012 at 02:11 PM
There would not be an article or amendment in the Constitution that would tell the people how to give direction to the government . What you seek is not there, and yes , the government is required to fulfill the will of the people...even if it means the creation of and maintenance cost associated with public park space.
Buck Harmon October 03, 2012 at 02:22 PM
The people give the government direction. It is the responsibility of the government to fulfill the direction that direction with regard to how tax dollars are spent...
Buck Harmon October 03, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Public Parks were being initiated and paid for with tax dollars in the days of Grover Cleveland.
Mike R October 03, 2012 at 03:18 PM
I looked over the Constitution and I didn't see any amendments that the government is required to provide roads or education either. Lets do away with those also if we are supposed to go by the Constitution to decide what the governernment should provide or not provide.
Buck Harmon October 03, 2012 at 03:26 PM
The government provides what the taxpayers tell them to provide...taxpayer funds pay for these things. the Constitution was developed to keep the government in check when carrying out these responsibilities.
Joe Cosentini October 03, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Robin Frazier should get in her county paid car and drive over to the Reisterstown Regional Park just over the county line and see what a real athletic facility looks like. Her comments just show how out of touch she is with the people who live in Carroll County.
p martin October 03, 2012 at 06:43 PM
I have kids in sports and I'm a volunteer on the FARC rec council; I personally think FARC runs a lot of good programs, with a lot of volunteers and a few government workers, who do what government should do - help remove road blocks so we can get things done, manage our framework, and provide other help as needed. Teamwork. Are the facilities as good as Howard - maybe not, but our kids are just as enthusiastic. Sure, turf fields are nice, but we don't have them. Both teams play on the same field. Yes,this is your government and your county, so get involved and help. Sitting in front of a computer complaining doesn't help near as much as volunteering to coach or manage a team of kids, or help at the library, or... There is plenty of room for everyone to help.Our kids are the next generation and they deserve the best we can do. Asking the government for more of the money we are borrowing from China just adds to the debt our kids will have to repay, regardless of how you interpret the Constitution and the responsibilities of government. There's no reason we can't continue to do a lot of this rec work ourselves. The more we do, the more control we have over how things turn out. Besides, it's fun! My $.02 worth.
Mike R October 03, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Where in the Constitution does it say that the government has to provide the police force? No Parks, no education, no roads , no police force. If we just go by the Constitution all of the time , the government just collects the taxes and we all get to carry guns. Sounds like an ANARCHY to me !
Mike R October 03, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Hey Robin Give my share of the taxes to parks and rec!!!
Mike R October 03, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Hey Joann, I heard they used your share of the taxes to fix Bixlers Church Road!!
Mike R October 03, 2012 at 08:31 PM
And I guess you believe that parks and rec have nothing to do with health and welfare.
Mike R October 03, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Joann, Tell us, what do you want your taxes to be used for, specifically?
Mike R October 03, 2012 at 08:59 PM
How do you know where your taxes went? Maybe to repair a road somewhere. I know you are not unglued. You have been glued to this all day. Where do you want your "county" taxes to be used? This whole discussion is about Carroll County! I don't think you mean our border with PA .
Buck Harmon October 03, 2012 at 09:38 PM
JoAnn, your arguments are vague and lack fact...as usual. When you speak statistically you need to provide facts that back up assertions...or assumptions. Crime rates in Reisterstown parallel those of Westminster...in fact they are a bit lower. The County Executive form of government that Baltimore County uses seems to be a lot more effective and efficient than the good old boy Commissioner process that is currently being used. The services provided are also more cost effective because of efficiencies in management technique. You don't know what you are talking about once again.
Buck Harmon October 03, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Robin Frazier drives her own car by choice...and the last I checked the expense reports that she was turning in it cost the taxpayers more for her to use her own vehicle than it would to drive a vehicle from the Carroll County motor pool. What's up with that JoAnn?
Mike R October 03, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Joann, I am telling you that you are correct. We don't know where are taxes go specifically. I also want "smaller government" but where you want to make cuts may not agree with me or many others. That is why I want to know what you want your county taxes to go to pay for, specifically?
WatchingInMtAiry October 03, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Great post pmartin. I will say that I agree that local Rec Councils all over the county self-fund their programs. What these Rec Councils (including Freedom) don't always is pay for 100% for upgrades to the facilities. This, as I'm sure you know, is called self-help money. These go for things like new goals, walls, field maintenance, etc. You apply for it in Feb and Sept. If this funding was cut off, the Rec Councils would be in trouble. You'd see a slow decay of the parks, which will drastically effect quality of life in the county. Thanks for volunteering with FARC -- somebody has to :D
Mike R October 04, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Robin give my tax money to parks and rec

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