Letter to the Editor

WECRD is misspending your money

Friday, February 12, 2010

Dear editor:

Well, yet another year has gone by with respect to the WECRD (Western Elmore County Recreation District). Here is where we stand:

No facility has been built. Little to no recreation is being provided by this taxing district for the youth or general population of this area.

In 2007, the WECRD Board voted to change from a $34.50 annual per-household fee to their current taxing structure of .0006% of the net assessed value of property. This move nearly doubled their tax revenue for one year and was contrary to what was voted for under the WECRD's original "plan" or sale to the public. An "overwhelming 60% of the voters voted 'YES', forming the WECRD" but it is important to note that it was not 60% of the population within this taxing district that voted "YES" -- it was 60% of those who actually voted (big difference).

For the Air Force Appreciation Day festivities, the WECRD spent $1,833.15 on their float, booths, etc.

In fiscal year 2009 the WECRD "donated" the following dollar amounts to local "recreation" projects in the community: $95 to Parks & Recreation for the summer concerts in the park; $95 to Parks & Recreation for sponsorship (with a large billing) for pool party sponsorship; $250 to Mountain Home Arts Council for "Gold" patronage membership; $200 to MHHS for an "all activities sponsorship" paid in advance, for three years (in other words the money was donated in 2007 to cover a three-year time period at $200 per year). The total donated back to the community for "recreation" by this "recreation district" for fiscal year 2009 was $640.

For fiscal year 2009, the WECRD raised, according to the audit report, $428,462 in tax revenue alone. Their total operating revenue for fiscal year 2009 was $451,376. Total operating expenditures were, according to their audit report, $120,773 and all paid by you and me as taxpayers within this taxing district.

So, to recap, the WECRD gave less than 0.15% of their annual tax revenue back to the community to support "recreation." This organization spent more on a parade to promote the WECRD Board than they did on recreation and our youth! Your tax dollars at work!

By Idaho Law, this is what a "Recreation District" should be:

TITLE 31/COUNTIES AND COUNTY LAW/CHAPTER 43/RECREATION DISTRICTS/31-4316 -- Purpose of district. "Each district is organized for the uses and purposes of acquiring, providing, maintaining and operating public recreation centers, swimming facilities, pools, picnic areas, camping facilities, ball parks, handball courts, tennis courts, marine and snowmobile facilities, recreational pathways, ski areas, and golf courses and public transportation systems and facilities serving the district together with all related grounds, buildings, equipment and apparatus for the use of the residents of the district and the public generally."

Funny, support of the MHAC seems to be missing from the purpose of a "Recreation District."

So now the question is, do YOU feel that you have received, by law, what is required of this taxing district?

The WECRD Board spent $725 for a total of three photos for the AFAD flyer. The photos were of the WECRD directors. Do you feel this was a good use of YOUR tax dollars?

How about this one. There was a Chamber Open House recently. This was not open to the public and was by invitation only (needed to be a Chamber member). A lady at the Chamber Office, when I called to ask questions indicated that the Chamber had "encouraged the WECRD to open the event to the public." She stated that she was not sure if they had done this or not. Well, according to Judy, the WECRD Secretary, it was not open to the public. However, the WECRD spent $43.86 (by their records) to host(ess) this event, which was paid for with public funds, but the public was not invited (or was excluded).

The funny thing is that there are laws that govern what money can be spent on. Do the arts fall into what a recreation district should be supporting? I myself would have to say no, based on my reading of the law, which is pretty clear on this subject. Nothing like a recreation district that will support anything as long as it is not recreation. Does this make you feel like you have received what you have paid for for right around ten years? I certainly hope not. Nearly two million dollars collected over the years and not so much as a soccer field or baseball diamond to show for it. Certainly we could do better things with our tax dollars.

The WECRD charged me $70 plus $4.20 for copy fees to obtain this information. I hope the public has found it useful because they sure did not want anybody to know what they are up to or how they are spending YOUR money.

Tracy A. Lauric