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Luther Stueland, Published February 13 2011

‘Amenities’ heap debt on Moorhead taxpayers

It was encouraging that several Moorhead City Council members were open to, at least, considering my proposal to sell the two golf courses and other city-owned property during a recent discussion about our growing liabilities.

But I got the impression from the Jan. 28 Forum coverage that a couple of council members think hiring a private firm to manage the golf courses might solve the problem. I believe that approach misses the point and would unfairly disparage the conscientious, capable individuals who currently manage, operate and maintain these and other city gems.

Criticism would be more appropriately directed at council decisions to borrow against our homes for speculation in more “amenities” than the market could support and continuing approval of budgets that don’t address the root cause of the imbalance. The often-asserted notion that “the local market doesn’t allow you to charge what the true cost would be” for these services is the flawed justification used to then demand our citizens make up the difference for what those same people won’t voluntarily allow.

If these city-owned ventures are as popular as many claim, it shouldn’t take the threat of government aggression to sustain them. Instead, we should defend taxpayers from exposure to nonperforming assets.

In addition to ceasing government’s economic meddling, my assertion is that shedding burdensome debt is an important priority. Add city obligations to what our federal and state governments have borrowed, and it is painfully obvious that the time for prudent action is now.

We have used a political credit card to live beyond our means, and it is immoral to pass that bill on to our children. By beginning to put our local government house in order now, we can better position our community to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the future.

Stueland is a member of the Moorhead City Council.