The Money Pit of Regional Cooperation 

There are many realities that make Richmond what it is (“Regional Castaway,” Back Page, June 30). One perennial favorite is when some residents propose new fixes that inevitably require new tax money. Amazingly in Richmond we often have so-called experts who suggest the fix to Richmond's issues is to raise the taxes in the counties. They phrase it as regional cooperation. Perhaps politicians in the metro area are slow learners and the residents have short memories.

There is no question that the City of Richmond is surrounded by several counties; that's the way it has been for centuries. Some pundits keep looking for ways to twist and turn geographical proximity and reveal some great solution that has eluded others. Too often the proposed secret elixir includes funding from the counties as if they have endlessly deep pockets. Local governments have enough financial issues without tackling another regional cooperation money pit.

Is the region broken? Some suggest it is. Some deny that there is a problem. The truth is between the two extremes. Some want to castigate a political system. That is an easy target. It is too easy to point a finger at any government entity and make it a scapegoat for what ails the world, the country, the state or a locality. Let's not forget special interest groups that organize to push their needs and projects.

A recent comment suggested that there is “an obvious need for a new venue for sporting events, concerts and the like.” Obvious? If it were really obvious then certainly residents would be willing to provide the money without government funding. A need postulates more than a desire by a few.

Some suggest that the residents of the metro area ask their elected officials to put a “priority on considering a true sports entertainment district along the Boulevard.” I'm a resident. I do not subscribe to this proposal. There are many more pressing concerns in the Richmond metro area than sports and entertainment. 

I do not support an upgraded Diamond or even a new ballpark. Perhaps if I owned real estate in the immediate area or was associated with the real estate industry I would reconsider.

I do not believe the timing is right for any regional cooperation that seeks more funding from all taxpayers. The proponents of these new projects can show the need by raising private funding and proving that demand will allow them to be entirely self-sufficient. The backers also could sponsor a public fundraiser.

The castaways in the Richmond area are the taxpayers who watch their taxes rise, their services decline, and new proposals from special interests that will inevitably raise their taxes again. The real sport in Richmond is staying ahead of the tax man.
Gordon Andrews



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