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Splashing in Cash

We’ve never liked the “G” word around here. “GROWTH” is a four-letter word in Boulder City. Our controlled growth ordinances are among the most stringent in the U.S. “Development” is another naughty word that we don’t like saying much.

But maybe we’ve been so concerned about that kind of growth that we haven’t paid nearly enough attention to another kind that’s been happening right under our noses? Instead, maybe we need to be a little more alarmed about the ever-growing girth of our local government.

When I was mayor, the city’s annual general fund budget was in the $31-$33 million range. That seems like forever ago, but it’s only been four years. This year, our City Council approved staff’s whopping $47 million general fund budget. That’s a $15 million increase, or half again as much as when I served. That means we’ve grown government by 50% in just a few short years. BIG government just doesn’t seem to fit with our treasured slow-growth mentality and celebrated small-town charm.

It also feels like we could have paid for the design of a new swimming pool three times over if we hadn’t been increasing other expenditures so much. Maybe even for construction of the entire project?

Have we lost sight of how critical that new pool is? The existing pool is over 40 years old, no longer suitable for competitive meets, and beyond repair. Our Parks and Recreation Department Director, Roger Hall, has been telling us that for at least a decade. City Council candidates, including those currently serving on Council, have repeatedly proclaimed that a new pool was among their top two or three priorities.

Conceptual designs for the new pool were prepared as early as 2016. Educational outreach campaigns were launched shortly thereafter. Public surveys were conducted as well. An anonymous donor contributed $1.3 million in May 2019. A new ad hoc swimming pool advisory committee was then tasked with scaling back the project’s scope in September 2019. The Finance Department unveiled a new five-step funding plan in February 2020. And ballot questions to help fund the plan have since been approved with great anticipation by our citizens.

But now, over seven years after we began the process in earnest, we still don’t have a new pool. In fact, we haven’t even begun the actual design work. So, why not? Why, with all this money being used to grow the size of our government, haven’t we even started the real design work?

I’m told that the city now has over $12 million sitting in a swimming pool fund just waiting to be spent. Apparently what we’re waiting for are more funds from the sale of Tract 350 for the construction of residences around Boulder Creek Golf Course. Ninety percent (90%) of those sale proceeds will go toward the new pool. Toll Brothers previously submitted a successful proposal to purchase that land. But their high-density layout wasn’t very popular, so the City Council sent Toll Brothers back to the drawing board. Word on the street has it that Toll Brothers is preparing to re-submit a new design.

Meanwhile, time marches on, and the cost of designing and constructing a new aquatic center keeps escalating. And if we keep waiting, the cost will only continue to skyrocket further.

The city decided against a full-blown aquatic facility complete with a fitness center, concessions, and new racquetball courts after voters expressed their concern with the projected $30-$40 million price tag back in 2019. So, the ad hoc committee cut the scope way back, more studies were commissioned, and lots and lots of waiting then occurred.

But all this waiting is only resulting in the very problem many were trying to avoid in the first place–a price tag that exceeds $30-$40 million. Only now we’re going to get far less bang for our buck.

I’m not opposed to using Toll Brothers’ money to construct our new pool. But let’s hurry and get it before it ends up buying us no more than a covered kiddie pool and a few life preservers. Otherwise, we need to find the money elsewhere and fast.

Did anyone think to look in the city’s own $47 M/year coffers? Seems like a good place to start if you ask me.

New law shapes golf course design

I like golf. While I was in college, I decided to take a class in golf – you could call it a “golf course” course. I figured it would be a great way to relax, enjoy nature, and (maybe) boost my grade point average at the same time! For a semester, I learned the basics: how to drive, chip, putt. It was enjoyable. Many of my classmates that semester had been golfing for years. They were better than me, but I was determined to get a good grade out of the class.

The art of communication in consciousness

For Memorial Day I am exploring human consciousness with you. Many misunderstandings have been fought over the lack of a mutual perspective among the parties involved. What better gift is there than one that assists in the art of communication? My work in formulating the discipline of Aquarian Theosophy has led me to the following understanding of humanities’ reality; consciousness is the basis of understanding.

Alumni events, marriage and a real Nazi

Ron’s column from a few weeks ago inspired me to tell a story about a weird event from my past. Mine is not as exciting as his in that there is no wrestler named Silo Sam. But there is at least one Nazi. And, no, not the current “I disagree with your politics so you are a Nazi” version. An actual card-carrying member of the party.

Las Vegas Veterans’ Memorial to Boulder City?

Veterans’ memorials can be found all over the Silver State. They are well deserved. They honor individuals who served the nation, and also commemorate battles and events regarding the many military anniversaries in Nevada.

City manager bids fond farewell

I may be leaving Boulder City, but it was not an easy decision. From the first time I came in and met the staff and community leaders, I saw a city filled with people who truly care about where they live and work. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to work with some incredible people.

Is the grass always greener?

Many people in the past played a golf game to cement a business deal, didn’t they? They also played golf to socialize. Has Boulder City recognized lessening play on golf courses? Or, from another perspective, what happens when million-dollar homes are placed around our open space golf course with views of the McCullough Mountains? Do fewer people play golf on the Boulder Creek golf course?

Parting is such sweet sorrow

Shakespeare was the man when it came to comedy and tragedy. His ability to make people feel the intense emotions of the characters is still imitated today. The past few months have been filled with a bit of excited anticipation at City Hall as several longtime and high-level employees have found new roles in other acts. I’m here to borrow some Shakespearean lines, the first being from Ophelia, “We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” (Hamlet)

Me, my brother and Silo Sam

Recently, I’ve been enjoying watching shows on A&E related to professional wrestling back in the earlier days, with profiles on wrestlers I grew up watching as well as classic rivalries.