All governments spend a lot of money on functions that do not have a direct impact on the average citizen.
For instance, we need to operate landfills, but the average person does not care much about what is spent to operate and maintain them. Employees who work diligently to make sure state rules are observed and that proper permits are given and regulated, money spent on building maintenance and an endless variety of other tasks to keep the government rolling along – all happen without the public noticing much of the work.
There are only a few things that have the visibility to grab the interest and attention of the general public when it comes to the spending of taxpayer money.
Everyone knows something about the local public schools. They impact every corner of the county and even if one has no children in school, there are activities within the public schools and Cecil College that attract interest from the general public. People know all about the condition of their roadways and appreciate the work it takes to remove snow from the road in front of their house. Our public library system has programs for everyone – from infants to senior citizens.
Then there are the parks. For generations, the county was rural and people could just play in their own backyards or on school grounds. With the growth in the community, the importance of providing parks has become more important. As school populations have grown, the sports leagues and the general public cannot rely on the availability of school grounds for their recreational pursuits.
In recent years, Cecil County has made a commitment to improving the park system. With the help of a statewide grant program to purchase parkland, Cecil County has been able to obtain Calvert Regional Park which has been developed through the past few years. The county is set to go to settlement on a park in the eastern end of the county – the old Brantwood golf course.
Public meetings about these projects has attracted a lot of interest with the overwhelming majority of people supporting park development.
That is why it is difficult to understand why County Council members Jackie Gregory and Dan Schneckenburger recently started dragging their feet when it comes to staffing needed positions within the Parks and Recreation Department.
Their comments came when a request for $138,000 in funding was introduced before the County Council.
Park and Recreation has been asked to do a lot with very little for many years. The state standard for staffing calls for one worker per 24 acres of parkland. Cecil County has one worker for 116 acres. With the increased funding, the county’s parks department would still only have one worker for 88 acres.
There may be some political gain in always coming off as a tightwad when it comes to spending, but that strategy backfired when they voted against the county budget and it is also not a good idea when it comes to funding popular park and recreational programs.