Bryan Dangerfield, Director of Athletics and Leisure Services, told the Mesquite City Council during the recent budget hearings that "we want to leave our services affordable, inclusive, and enticing," as he defended against a potential fee increase by patrons of the Recreation Center. "I don't want to price ourselves out of the market."
He explained that the Department's goal was to increase its revenue by increasing the number of patrons rather than increasing the fees charged to Rec Center users.
Dangerfield remarked that the Rec Center covers about 45 percent of its expenses through membership fees.
The very next week, Dangerfield adds an item to the Council's agenda for tonight, May 22, that will increase rents paid by non-profit groups at the City's Mesquite Campus by two cents a square foot plus an additional $10 a month for a "Campus maintenance fee." The CAM increase is on top of the $25 the groups already pay every month. The square footage rental increase puts that fee at 34 cents a square foot.
See Mesquite Citizen Journal story Council to Consider Campus Fee Increase, Econ Dev Proposals
This is the same guy that defends his pricing scheme for out-of-town sports teams that finds you, the taxpayer, subsidizing the operating and maintenance costs of all the soccer fields and ball fields to the tune of thousands of dollars a year.
This is the same guy that defends spending $79,000 a year for "sports marketing" that includes $40,000 a year of your tax dollars for the Long Drivers of America annual golf tournament.
This is the same guy that loves spending your money to bring in tourists for a weekend, hoping they'll spend a few dollars around town and increase the City's tax intake.
This is the same guy that added $100,000 to your budget for repair of the astroturf at the Mesquite Sports and Events Complex that is reserved for sports teams from out of town. (Remember, the average citizen in Mesquite is not allowed to use the MSEC.)
See Mesquite Citizen Journal story Sports Complex RFP, Four New Ambulances Part of Budget Talks
But, giving those people a break who live here day in and day out and spend their money in the City more than just a day or two?
Not so much.
Councilman George Rapson comments that we already subsidize the non-profit groups who use the Mesquite Campus with "reduced" rents; we just don't show it in black and white in the appropriate budget line items.
But we also don't show the exact amounts we spend subsidizing all the out-of-town sportsters on the budget line items. For instance, the soccer organizations that played
tournaments here in January and February paid the City $2,500 (per tournament) for the use of our fields.
Dangerfield reported that it costs us between $4,300 and $4,700 to operate those fields per tournament. Where's that subsidization in the budget.
Where's the line item in the budget that fully shows how much we subsidize the Rec Center users? According to City documents, the Rec Center runs about $270,000 a year to operate just in facility costs. That doesn't include personnel expenditures.
Dangerfield's fee increases for those non-profit groups who do so much to help themselves are on top of this year's Council action to yank all the funding for the non-profits groups except for one - the Mesquite Senior Games. Yep, you guessed it. Many of the participants in those Games are from out of town.
I understand the desire to subsidize all these out-of-towners coming in for sporting events in the hopes it will increase business in the local area. By how much is still a good question that no one has clearly answered.
But c'mon guys. What are you telling us who live here and spend our money in town more than just a day here and there?
A friend commented to me over the weekend that I had "certainly changed my tune" from last year's budget hearings about the City providing funding for non-profit groups in the Arts Community.
While I didn't argue last year against the City giving $10,000 in financial support to the Greater Mesquite Arts Foundation, who in turn supported other art groups, I wasn't all that keen about it either.
That was before I spent the last year attending so many different events and activities sponsored by the Arts community. That's before I learned just how much time and effort these people spend improving our community with all of their donated time and support. That's before I found out how much return the City gets in sales tax from the Arts Community. That's before I witnessed first hand just what the Arts community is all about.
These people, our people, simply don't deserve the double whammy the City is putting on them this year.
In this year's budget process, the Mesquite Toes Tap team simply asked for a reprieve from paying their monthly rent during the summer when they are in hiatus and have no income stream. That request totaled a measly $1,825. They were turned down because of what the City Council admitted is a flawed application process.
That application process isn't the only thing flawed in this whole discussion.
So is Dangerfield's thinking about who deserves what when it comes to spending our money.