Should Yellowstone County Taxpayers Continue to Help Fund Recreational Opportunities?
Did you folks know that Metra has never made a profit since its conception?
We had John Ostlund, Yellowstone County commissioner, and MetraPark General Manager Tim Goodridge on air this morning to discuss the private management of Metra and its facilities and in that discussion learned that 2022 was the best year ever since it was built. For fiscal 2022, looks like a deficit of $800,000-$900,000.
The main focal point of the discussion is: Can private do it better than the county? Many things would have to be ironed out. They recently heard from privately managed facilities in Casper and Sioux Falls, both comparable to our markets. I asked if they are running profitably while still providing what the public wanted without a huge taxpayer subsidy. They did not have that information readily available.
The commissioners have the power to implement a policy of fiscal responsibility. In other words, instead of needing to supplement the budget with tax dollars, they could enact a policy that Metra has to pay its own way.
In Montana, we have it in our constitution that the state operates with a balanced budget. So the question really is, are we willing to all pay for recreational opportunities with our tax dollars?
I also asked if we had private management pay for all utilities, labor, insurance, and facility maintenance and upkeep to reduce tax-payer liability if they would be on board. I didn't get an answer; they would have to see it first.
No matter what in today's world, we ALL have to prioritize our spending and budgets, period. And like you, have to really think about what is the most important thing ...there's only so much to go around.
Here's our full audio from this morning if you'd like to listen:
See ya tomorrow at 5 a.m.