I am writing to express my dissatisfaction that the City Council did not overturn the mayor’s veto on the recreation fees. I have heard several arguments against the fees (such as the city doesn’t need the revenue or that it is a backdoor tax). I actually think those arguments are weak and easily countered. If those were the arguments against the fee I would also vote to keep the fee. But the arguments for the fee are not that strong either. The only slightly valid argument is the fact that it is a growing program with growing needs but there are other variables to consider that outweigh that factor.
Some arguments for fees are that it’s a standard that is done in other municipalities. I don’t think that argument is ever a proper justification. I agree that we should see what other municipalities are doing, but we still need to formulate our own policy based on our needs. In the Housing Authority we have adopted best practices from other authorities but we have also deviated because it does not meet our needs. Again, just because it is done somewhere else does not make it correct, we can find other municipalities that do not charge for recreation.
My biggest disagreement would be with the usage fee argument. It has been stated that we pay for tolls on the Turnpike; the HOP is not free nor is parking in Hoboken. If we would base everything on a usage fee then residents (mainly seniors) that do not have kids in the school system should not pay that tax in their property tax statement. Some would say that this is comparing apples and oranges but I would claim that they are similar. The reason everyone pays taxes for the school system is because it benefits the whole society. The fact that children have a basic education lifts all boats and improves our society. Again, I would state that the benefits that kids receive from the recreation program are the same. It has been proven that children that are in organized sports do better in school, develop better social skills are more confident and happy. The children are taught leadership qualities, competition, how to persevere, and how to work as a team. Also, the physical exercise they receive especially in this technology age is a huge plus. I would have hoped that the City Council would have seen the benefits that this confers on not just the child but society as a whole. And this benefit far outweighs any other factor or argument. For this reason I would have expected that politics would have been put on hold.
A disappointed constituent,