We citizens of Louisville should say “thanks but no thanks” to the generous, wealthy few who are donating money to give our city’s kids places to swim this summer.
OK, fine, we will take the money this time, but no more!
Certainly, the kids should not be the ones who lose because of bad decisions made by the majority of Metro Council members — the people whose job it is to protect all of our interests… and our pools.
But, also, politicians who make bad decisions shouldn’t be bailed out continually by wealthy people and corporations. At some point, it will be necessary for voters — all of us — to feel the pain inflicted by our elected officials so that they can be held accountable for their poor judgment and leadership. They need to be confronted by constituents and asked why they rejected a relatively small tax increase ($12 a month for the average property owner) that so far has resulted in the closure of four pools, two libraries and more.
All of us owe a big thank you to UofL alum and NFL player Jamon Brown, his team — the Atlanta Falcons, which matched his donation — as well as to Papa John’s, which contributed. They stepped up to fill a funding gap and provide an opportunity this summer for kids to use pools at some YMCA locations and Central High School.
This needs to be the last time.
This needs to be the last time the city relies on the largesse of the wealthy to save the city from bad governance. I would go so far as to propose an ordinance prohibiting the city from accepting funding support from individuals to help fill budget gaps.
This year, it’s the city pools. Last year, it was parking fees at Waterfront Park. It took the leadership of businessman and former U.S. Ambassador Matthew Barzun to organize a two-year charitable commitment from several families to retain free parking at the park— preempting a plan that would raise it to $3 for three hours, for a park that sees about 2 million visitors each year.
Also, the Belle of Louisville was saved thanks to charitable support. Louisville Tourism will provide $500,000 to keep it operating.
Charity is important, of course. It helps makes our arts scene world class.
The individuals, families, corporations and organizations who have stepped up to save the city in troubled times deserve praise. And I’m sure they are all happy they could use their good fortune to help — they can afford it.
This is not medieval or Renaissance Europe, which relied heavily upon wealthy patrons, but with a cost.
Next thing you know, we will see Louisville police, brought to you by YUM! and Puff Puff Pass.
The truth is that corporations and the wealthiest families should be asked to pay more in taxes to fund these budget deficits and more — not just in Louisville but across the country. Because if you can afford to make million-dollar charitable donations, then you can afford to pay more in taxes.
I’m certain those who are helping with the pools and the parking at Waterfront Park were truly happy to do it, and they do deserve our thanks and praise. However, those who have been there to save the city in the past won’t always be there — in fact, they probably won’t be there to save us entirely from this current crisis. Our leaders need to know that there is no parachute — no bailout — after this year.
The Metro Council was warned about the budget deficit, but 15 members voted for budget cuts, and they should not be bailed out by the good deeds of a generous few.