By RICHARD SKOLNIK
The County’s recent decision to charge the Little League over $40,000 for using playing fields reminds us that the County needs to find new ways of doing business.
The County has found ways to subsidize businesses that “want to invest in Los Alamos.” It has done this most recently, for example, for businesses that have failed to honor their commitment to the arrangements made for such subsidies. In addition, the County offered these subsidies, including $1.8 million of land, on the basis of limited analysis of the economic costs and returns to the community and no analysis of how the estimated returns on the proposed investments compared with other potential uses of County funds.
By contrast, I want to suggest that the County can get a very high rate of economic and social return on around $40,000 of subsidies to the Little League and related subsidies to similar not-for-profit organizations. Such returns would include, among other things the (net) economic and social value of: the enhanced physical and mental health of children that comes from participating in community-based activities; the reduction in undesirable behaviors that are associated with children’s engaging in a range of out-of-school activities; and, the impact on individuals and on the community of adults who participate in not-for profit organizations like the Little League. These returns would compare favorably with those that could be achieved by the County’s spending the same amounts on other things.
The County needs to help ensure that our community groups thrive. It must stop telling us why good things can’t be done and focus instead on making them happen.