A three member majority of the Mesquite City council voted Tuesday to spend funds to study the cost of building a multipurpose covered tent near the Mesquite Sports and Event Center site.
Originally called the Mesquite Indoor Sports Complex, officials are now touting the site as a multiple events complex in order to better sell it to the community.
Councilmen Allan Litman and Kraig Hafen voted against the expenditure on pragmatic grounds.
Litman argued against spending money on a design without a comprehensive business plan and the availability of funds. Hafen objected to taking money from other accounts to pay for the project with only assumed benefits.
Councilman George Rapson, arguing for the project, noted that spending money on projects that didn't make profits was a good thing. He pointed to spending on roads as projects that “don't make a dime.”
The Rapson argument was typical of those who fail to understand that government expenditures must only go to projects that have a clear, measurable, social or economic benefit. Roads do make profits for the businesses that depend upon them to move goods and services from point A to B in an efficient and economical way.
Councilman Geno Withelder argued that since his work companions are for the project, he is for the project. Councilman Karl Gustaveson said that they were only voting to spend money to determine the costs of building the complex.
Litman and Hafen, correctly, were not necessarily arguing against the project,
they were arguing for a better economic understanding before launching into projects.
Panic is the best way to describe those supporting the complex. They seem to argue the economic non sequitur that: “if we build it, they will come.”
Resident Robert Shively, a proponent of the “build it, they will come school of economics,” offered that opponents were naysayers without merit and made the illogical comparison between the value of sports complexes in Rochester, Minn., to the potential benefit of the same in the local area.
The most flagrant polemic was seemingly directed at Councilman Hafen by Interim City Manager Kurt Sawyer.
Sawyer attempted to argued that taking economic risks was partly responsible for moving the community from the days when diary cattle roamed the area to its present condition. The reference was an obvious slight to the Hafen family dairy business.
Karen Fielding, President of the Mesquite Chamber of Commerce, argued for the project. Of all the organizations that should understand the need for solid economic planning, it should be the Chamber. Obviously they don't.
Does the City need another indoor event center? Probably not, since one currently exists at the CasaBlanca and there are any number of vacant buildings that could be converted if the need did exist.
This argument is not about the need for economic development. That need is obvious. The argument is about the lack of economic sense applied to decisions made by some of the city councilmen. But this is nothing new.