Creating parks, open spaces and recreational facilities is typically a priority for local politicians hoping to score points with constituents. Unfortunately for taxpayers, such projects too often become bogged down in pork and parochialism.
On Tuesday, the Clark County Commission voted to move ahead on a $150 million push to improve and expand the county’s park system. The plan is to float bonds backed by sales tax revenue to pay for the initiative, the first time the county has issued such paper in almost 20 years.
Already, some commissioners are grumbling that the money is inadequate. A wish list in the county’s five-year capital plan includes $1.8 billion — yes, with a “b” — in potential parks and recreational spending. But that ignores fiscal reality. As the county’s CFO pointed out, $150 million is the highest commissioners can go without blowing up the annual general fund budget.
The real sticking point: Where to spend the loot?
“Obviously, $150 million is not going to meet the desires that seven commissioners have up here for parks in their area,” said Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak. “How are we going to rank this? Because we’re all territorial to some extent with our parks that don’t exist.”
The challenge will be to balance the interests of established communities with the needs that accompany growth in newer areas.
It’s no doubt too much to ask that political considerations play a minimal role in the process. But let’s hope commissioners can at least somewhat suppress such instincts in favor of an efficient priority list designed to benefit a broad swath of residents while also helping areas with actual deficiencies.